The run home for all 16 NRL teams over the closing rounds, finishing scenarios and who faces the toughest schedule.
The NRL has told referees to properly follow conversion protocols, promising there will be no embarrassing repeat of Nathan Cleary’s preliminary final misplacement in the grand final.
Cleary took a conversion from well infield of where he should have after Penrith’s second try against Melbourne on Saturday.
The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley estimated the kick position was seven metres out of place, with head office lucky the Panthers halfback missed the shot.
The onus for the error has been put squarely on officials, with Annesley confirming it was on both referee Gerard Sutton and the touch judge to line up the kick.
Under the NRL’s official processes, the touch judge is meant to stand where the try is scored, before the referee walks backwards to line up where the shot is taken.
But Annesley admitted that process had fallen by the wayside, and told referees it had to be followed correctly in Sunday’s decider between South Sydney and Penrith and beyond.
“That process failed and it shouldn’t have failed. And it won’t fail again in the grand final,” Annesley said.
“I have made it absolutely clear that the process needs to be reinforced to the referees.”
It’s not the first time such drama has struck a finals match, with a 2014 golden-point semi-final between Manly and Canterbury having a similar issue when the Sea Eagles took a kick at a wider point from where the try was scored.
Meanwhile, Annesley said the NRL would not release findings from investigations into concussion checks.
Jarome Luai created headlines at the weekend when he claimed he “blacked out” when hit high by Cameron Munster in Saturday’s preliminary final.
The Penrith five-eighth was taken from the field for HIA and later returned, telling media afterwards he passed his check “pretty easily”.
All HIAs are reviewed by the NRL, but the league has a long-standing policy of not releasing findings.
Annesley on Monday said players can be “a bit loose with how they express themselves”, and stood by the NRL’s position.
“These are matters that are dealt with by ethical and medical people,” he said.
“It’s not our position to question their judgment in terms of the medical decisions they make.
“The medical people involved are doctors who are entitled not to have their medical opinion questioned publicly.”
When put to him that it would clear doctors if the findings of high-interest cases were released, Annesley was adamant the NRL was not trying to hide anything.
“It’s a bit like saying these are all the drivers who drove under the speed limit,” he said.