So here we are, officially halfway into the season. Now, on cue, it's time for Origin to take the spotlight away from what is shaping up to be the most fascinating NRL season in years. Still, an interesting game tonight to kick-off the round, Manly v Cowboys. The former are still in the hunt for a finals spot, the latter are gone (surely - when do you make a certain call here? I'm not brave enough, again). Both sides are pretty much equally affected by Origin. It's the first cold snap in NSW tonight, so that favours the hosts. It'll be interesting to see what crowd numbers rock up to Brookie on a chilly Thursday night, with Origin all over the media? Tomorrow's Rabbs v Sharks should be the game of the round, again despite Origin. Its seems odd that the Blues are in training but the Sharks still have Dugan, Moylan, Fifita, Graham and Gallen to call upon. It shows NSW is heading in a new direction, team-wise. I'm keen to see how the Burgess brothers go against a bigger pack, after they waltzed through the Warriors middle last weekend. Eels v Knights. A bit sad that. Two sides well off the pace this year, it must be so disappointing to their loyal fans, and those two sides really do have great fans. They'll both be back soon, let's hope. Rugby League needs a strong Parramatta and Newcastle. In many ways those two areas are traditional heartland for the game. Chooks v Tigers, seven v eight, with the Broncos on the same points but with a much poorer for and against. Still, if either side loses, they drop out of the eight. That's always something to play for. Cronk turning out for his club during Origin? That also means a big change for the Maroons. Eight teams guaranteed two competition points this round without even playing. Why?