Gus' set of six

Bouncing back: Aku Uate and the Knights.

Bouncing back: Aku Uate and the Knights. Photo: Max Mason Hubers

The six salient points Phil Gould noticed from the first week of the 2013 NRL competition.

1. I feel for the Raiders fans.
Coaches call them the ‘‘modern-day superstars’’. These are the selfish players who simply see the game as a life-support system just for them. They can be hard to handle. The self-published images of Canberra pair Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson drinking  on a rooftop and flipping the bird to the world must have been like a dagger through the heart of passionate Canberra fans who made the trek to Penrith on Sunday to support their team in the opening game of the season. Fans really hurt when their team loses. However, it must hurt even more to see how two of their most talented players reacted to the loss. If Dugan and Ferguson can’t show their club, their teammates and their fans more respect than that, then they don’t deserve any respect in return.

2. Johnathan Thurston’s re-signing with the Cowboys is  a win for loyalty.
We often hear people bemoan the fact that the days of a player’s loyalty to a team’s colours are dead and gone. Well,the re-signing of the champion playmaker by North Queensland this week is a win for some old-fashioned values. People might be interested to know that Thurston made a decision to stay at the Cowboys even before a financial deal with his club had been finalised.  He made a decision based on where he and his family wanted to live their lives and the fact he wanted to win a premiership with his present team. He may not have to wait too long for that victory lap to happen.

Modern-day superstar: Josh Dugan.

Modern-day superstar: Josh Dugan. Photo: Colleen Petch

3. Referees are sounding better.
Congratulations to new referees’ coach Daniel Anderson and his troops for some of the promising changes they have introduced  this year. I know the competition is only one week old; however, it’s obvious some of the new systems are already a huge improvement on what we’ve seen in previous years. I particularly like the fact the referees are quieter during the run of play. No more screaming at players on every tackle as they try to choreograph the speed of play. It used to drive me insane. Less is more with Anderson and it suits the referees perfectly. They seem happier and far more composed. That can only be a good thing. Just don’t start me on the obstruction rule, though. AARRGGHHH!!!

4. Don’t dump on the Tigers just yet.
Yes I know it wasn’t pretty, but don’t go giving up on  Wests Tigers just yet. It happens to all teams at one time or another. You think you are ready to go but for some reason once you take the field nothing seems to fall into place. The Tigers got themselves into a tailspin on Monday night against the Knights and just couldn’t stop themselves from spiralling out of control. There have been a number of changes to this club and this team over the past six months. Chemistry is sometimes just as important as talent when it comes to building a team. They will get it right soon enough. I’m not giving up on them.

5. Greg Inglis can win the Rabbitohs a competition.
The move to fullback last season has ignited so many of the qualities and talents in this young man that may have otherwise lay dormant if he had remained simply a ball-runner playing out wide in the centres. His positional play, awareness, work ethic and attention to detail have impressed me greatly in the past 12 months. His passing game is getting better by the week. Inglis no longer stands back and waits for other players to make him look good. This is a player who now makes others look good. He is brilliant.

Brilliant: Greg Inglis of the Rabbitohs.

Brilliant: Greg Inglis of the Rabbitohs. Photo: Getty Images

6. Mr Bennett has been busy this off-season.
I warned last week  we could well see a huge bounce-back factor from the Newcastle club this season after their coach, Wayne Bennett, missed finals football for the first in a long time last year. Monday night’s blistering victory over  Wests Tigers showed that the old coach has been  busy during the summer months putting the steel back into this football team. They were awesome. Forget the score. It was the manner of the performance. It was a typical Wayne Bennett early-season blitz. Fast, powerful, clinical; there was also beauty in its simplicity. The coach  might be ready for another tilt at a title.