10 Commandments of SuperCoach – 2020 edition & Bonus Podcast

Welcome to the seventh annual 10 Commandments of SuperCoach, a collection of wisdom and tired old jokes accumulated over many years.

This SC Talk annual tradition has been around longer than 14 of the 16 NRL coaches. In fact, the first edition was so long ago that Sonny Bill Williams played rugby league, a Morris twin wanted to move clubs to play with his brother and a Fifita had been arrested in the offseason.

How times change, eh?

But like Cooper Cronk’s nose, SuperCoach has gotten harder to pick every year and the avalanche of detailed data now available means this humble tome’s place is not to bury you in numbers but to serve as a gentle reminder to make smart decisions.

So, in the interests of helping us not make the same mistakes as last year (and the year before that, and the…) the Commandments are arriving on the eve of the season kick off, to help avoid any last-minute mishaps. Like “Darius Boyd’s gone vegan and is in great shape, CTW is a wasteland and he’s only $333k!” -level of mishap.

Now that he’s a vegan, Darius can’t quite deadlift what he used to…

First year players should consult our FAQ for the basics of the game and common terms.

And this year we have the 10 Commandments featured in a podcast just in case you’d prefer that format.

1- Count thy pennies in preseason

There’s almost too much information available on teams and players of interest but the fundamental goal of a Round 1 team remains unchanged – get the best bang for your buck.

Getting the right blend of scoring and growth in Team Value is critical to a successful year and the recipe for success over the years is to stock your team with guns and young, cheap players. But with an average of $384,000 per slot and most guns starting at $550k plus, you’ll need to be more picky than Josh Reynolds when it comes to choosing your girlfriends players.

If the next young star isn’t in the Round 1 team, think long and hard about whether to believe the hype. Will Jake Averillo or Bradman Best be last season’s Bronson Xerri or Albert Hopoate? Get it wrong and you’ll be looking for the Delete Team button even earlier than usual.

2- Thou shalt conserve trades, for they are the way to salvation

Trades remain the most valuable resource in the game, like a Value Pack of three-ply at a West Sydney Woolies.

Bye planning is far less of an issue nowadays with the changes to the NRL schedule however, the significant reduction of dual position players means that trades are as valuable, or more, than ever.

Gone are the days of being able to move players around to make just about any trade possible. Of the 35 players to average 60PPG* last season, only four of them are dual position. And let’s face it, you’re unlikely to want to play Latrell at FLB and McInnes is long term injured, so it’s really only two.

Now, swapping out that injured fullback for a hooker is far harder (if not impossible). What was possible with one trade is now likely to take two. And like a packet of double coat Tim Tams, you’ll blow through the whole lot before you know it and be left feeling queasy and a little bit ashamed of yourself.

*not counting long term injured players such as Matt Lodge, or Lloyd Perrett who only played one game.

3- Knoweth the three seasons and plan accordingly  

Many NRL teams split the season up into three distinct parts and Supercoaches should be no different. These seasons are:

  • Rounds 1-11 – cash generation
  • Rounds 12-16 – origin/bye period
  • Rounds 17-25 – the run home

The stock market aspect of Supercoach requires careful consideration and planning. The first part of the year should be a mad scramble to generate as much Team Value as possible while still keeping pace with the points leaders. Identifying the right cash cows and undervalued players is essential to grow your Team Value to bring in a fistful of guns later in the year.

The second season is less of a nightmare, where the shift to one bye and a standalone rep weekend helping reduce the planning headache – but anyone thinking these tweaks will prevent veterans being rested are fooling themselves.

Top coaches have been giving their stars an additional game off during this part of the season to keep them fresh for the run home and that won’t change. It’s usually anyone’s guess which game that might be, so having a backup plan for your origin players is essential.

The third part of the SuperCoach season is like the final straight in the Melbourne Cup. Everything up to this point is about ensuring you’re in a good position when the whip comes out. And that means being able to field the best 17 possible. Dump anyone who isn’t scoring premium points and go like stink.

This is when having a couple of trades to spare will be a godsend, because nothing will sink your hopes faster than a couple of million bucks’ worth of injured guns on your bench with no way of swapping them out.

4- Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the armband

Time waits for no man and that includes the SuperCoach stars of yesteryear you could rely on as ‘set and forget’ captaincy choices. The armband belongs to the young blokes now.

The average age of the top 15 players last year was just 24.0*, with no Burgess, Gallen or Fifita in sight. In fact, only one player in the top 15 was older than 27 and that was because Cameron Smith is functionally immortal. Take Smith out and the average age drops to 23.2. Incredible.

The average age of the top 15 players in 2018 was 24.13, demonstrating that it isn’t just one superstar crop of players skewing the results (otherwise the average age would increase, not decrease). Every year the younger blokes outperform the experienced Guns, so factor that into your thinking. 

Are these two rookies in the SC system yet? Wait…is the second one Jack De Belin?!?

What about those who put up the top 15 individual game scores last season? Their average age of the players was even younger at just 23.8*, with 11 of the 15 aged 25 or under.  Bloody millennials.

*age at the start of the season

5- Damned are the talentless, for they are a trap

Every year we get them, the surprise Round 1 selection in nobody’s preseason ‘best 17’ that lures Supercoaches in, with their cheap price and cash cow potential. Then the whistle blows and they handle themselves as well as that Balinese bloke who picked a fight with Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Even if they aren’t strictly a shock selection, if it seems too good to be true, then it very often is.

For example, Bailey Simonsson was a hugely popular Round 1 pick after nabbing a wing spot outside Joey Leilua at the Raiders. Despite having a boatload of other CTW cheapies to choose from, he had a starting role in a quality side, good bloodlines (his dad was an All Black), he was a perfect selection. Instead what you got was Lachlan Maranta in lime green.

Lachlan taking a moment to ponder where it all went wrong…

Even in what was, in my opinion, the best year ever for cheapies, there were still some other shockers – Adam Keighran, Tom Opacic, Christian Crichton, Jack Hetherington, Hame Sele, the list goes on. The lesson here is don’t fall for the left field selection in Round 1, particularly at a club with a new coach because they rarely know their best lineup from the get-go (beware anyone starting with Knights or Titans cheapies).

6- Damnation awaits those who chase last week’s points (AKA don’t buy David Fusitua*)

Every year and sometimes several times in a season, an SC-irrelevant or fringe player will explode with a career game and tens of thousands of SuperCoaches rush to trade him in.

But before falling over yourself in the rush to trade them in, understand that chasing last week’s points is a trap.

Even as a quick cash grab, these deals often don’t work out, given much of the rise in price generally occurs before you buy in. This has been an annual Commandment but, in the race to gain an edge, a trend has reared its ugly head in recent times.

I call them each way bets – mid-pricers you buy when you’re partly trying to chase quick cash but also half hoping the player kicks on and you can keep him around. Maybe you’re banking on pedigree from years past or you’ve convinced yourself an inconsistent player finally ‘gets it’.

But what usually happens is that they don’t earn enough cash to be worth the immediate trade out and you end up holding them after the cash rise is gone and all you’re left with is mediocre scoring and the need to burn another trade to move them on.

Examples of each way bets from last year include:

  • Luke Keary – 105 in rd2, then peaked at a $60k gain in rd4 before losing $80k by the first bye
  • Blake Ferguson – 85 in rd8, then 31, 43, 42, 37, losing $95k
  • Mahe Fonua – 96 in rd7, then 22, 37, 30 and dropped, losing $50k
  • Boyd Cordner – 93 in rd8, then 33PPG over next five games (one injury score), losing $165k 
  • Josh Addo-Carr – 104 in rd11, then went 29, 46, 53, 19, 37, losing $95k

All these each way bets were top 10 trade ins the week after they went large. This is the Supercoach equivalent of buying Rugby Union broadcast rights (overpriced, no return on investment and a pretty mediocre product).

*David Fusitua was inducted into the Don’t Chase Last Week’s Points Hall of Fame last year and is no longer eligible for mention in this Commandment.

7- Blessed be the healthy       

Many SuperCoaches don’t understand that the ability to stay healthy is a skill – a very valuable one when it comes time to settle on which players to start with. Health can be difficult to determine at a time of year when “training the house down” is the go-to phrase used to describe a player returning from injury, scandal or whatever the hell happened to Coen Hess the last two years.

“I was told to either get in shape or rent my forehead out as a billboard. Both options were lucrative, but I decided to train the house down and shape up…”

Injury-prone Guns are high-risk high-reward gambles…there’s a reason so many have Josh Dugan, Adam Reynolds and Nathan Brown on their ‘never again’ list. Similarly, a big reason that quality veterans (and previously popular SuperCoach options) such as Jake Friend and Jack Bird are cheaper this year is that they struggle to stay on the field.

Health isn’t the only consideration, with off-field shenanigans playing an ever-increasing role in who suits up on gameday. We’ve heard that enough is enough from the NRL brass for years now but, as we saw with Jack De Belin, they will take action.

You need to be good AND lucky to make a run at the overall prize or to win your H2H league, so you’re just asking for trouble by picking a stack of injury or scandal-prone players.

8- Thou shalt not rage trade Guns

If one of your Guns has a shocker, particularly if they had the armband on, most of us immediately want to teach the prick a lesson by dumping him for someone who won’t let you down.

We’ve all been there and it can be hard to resist, especially if they play for your real-life team which lost. The temptation to avoid the inevitable price drop only makes it harder to stay away from the trade button.

It’s important to remember that, a) you don’t lose money if you never trade them out, and b) you’re burning two trades if you need to bring them back.

Before trading a Gun, ask yourself why they went poorly. SuperCoaches abandoned James Tedesco like rats from a sinking ship after he scored 23 and 52 to start last season. Of course, those two games were played in torrential rain – the next two games were dry and he scored 133 and 84. Not rocket science.

But sometimes poor scores are confirmation of fears you had with putting them in in the first place – was Paul Gallen too old or was he undervalued (with no Origin and other injuries in the Sharks pack)? Well, that one was answered pretty quickly.

The trick is to have a clear head when you make the call. If you must, work your rage out by trading them for Darius Boyd before the lockout (how humiliating for them).

Hypothetical reasons to trade a Gun might include that they’re no longer kicking goals (Latrell Mitchell), they’ve had a drama-filled offseason and aren’t focused (Latrell Mitchell) or that somehow, despite their well-earned reputation for laziness, shifting to play the most active position in the sport did not work out (Latrell Mitchell).

9- Thou shalt not overreact to scoring changes

Every year brings change to either NRL or SuperCoach rules that have us endlessly searching for meaning and impact but, inevitably, any change is more minor than first anticipated.

Last year’s changes included scrapping the controversial Last Touch Assist and adding the Try Contribution (TC) stat. When he announced the changes, friend of the site Tom Sangster outlined how halves would benefit and hookers disadvantaged by the new scoring. Cue massive overreaction by SuperCoaches desperate for any edge over the field, no matter how small.

The end result was the halves “benefitting” so much that not a single one finished in the top 10, while Damian Cook and Cameron Smith each finished in the top six (with Smith boosting his average by more than 10PPG). 

No SuperCoach rule changes were announced this season but the NRL has introduced, among others, the new 20/40 kick and variable locations for scrums that, in theory, should lead to fun set plays.

But don’t fall into the trap of overanalysing their impact on your team – even when more significant NRL or SuperCoach changes have been introduced in years past, there’s been little real effect on scoring over the course of a full season.  Unless you think Dean Pay is giddy at the chance to roll out trick plays from midfield scrums? Or Wayne Bennett? Or Des Hasler? Or Wood Enspoon (I think that’s the name of the new Titans coach)?

These changes are flavour enhancers – not game changers – and shouldn’t affect your Round One team decisions.

10- Honour and trust thy gut, for it shall keep you sane

Like Anthony Milford’s love for a Quarter Pounder, this Commandment stands the test of time.

“Aw yeah, I’m making it a double Quarter Pounder tonight. I don’t care what Darius says!“

At the end of the day, you want to be able to feel good about your team and your decisions. If you’re genuinely torn on whether to take the advice of a fellow coach or go another way, then go with your gut. If it turns out to be wrong, at least it was your call – nothing is more frustrating than going against your instincts and having it blow up in your face.

Of particular note is the panic many SuperCoaches experience during the first rolling lockout of the year, when months of planning gets flushed down the toilet because one fringe SC-relevant player goes large and they make kneejerk trades before the round is over to free up cash to bring them in the next week.

Rest assured this is very amusing to everyone else in your league and it rarely works. All you’ve done is torn up your carefully constructed squad to fit Corey Oates in your team. Congratulations.

Popular trade ins after Round 1 last year include:

  • James Tamou – 106 then 47avg the next four games
  • Jesse Bromwich – 89 then 46avg the next six games
  • Solomone Kata – 96 then 29avg the next four games and was dropped
  • Jake Friend – 95 then injured, 21 off the bench, injured, injured, injured.

It’s just not worth it.

Thanks to all who’ve enjoyed the 10 Commandments over the years. This will be my last one and it has been an absolute blast to write. There’s so much amazing SuperCoach content to consume now that it’s time to put this one to pasture.

Good luck with the season and may all your Guns fire and trades pay off!

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marmalade
marmalade (@marmalade)
Keeper
2 months ago

Another masterpiece Surge, looks like I will be going out with a bang by selecting Fusitua in my CTW, hope your onto something there. All the very best!

PnoyBronx
PnoyBronx (@br0nc0s4l1f3)
Borderline keeper
2 months ago

Commandment 4-When choosing between two players, I am now gonna make my ultimate decision base on their age
(eg. Moses vs Cleary-Cleary I think is younger by a couple of years, so Cleary it is),
unless Commandment 10 tells me otherwise (eg. Arrow vs Murray- gut says go Arrow, so Arrow it is).

Great read Surge, looking forward to many more great articles through out the year.

carlosthedwarf
carlosthedwarf (@carlosthedwarf)
Admin
Gun
2 months ago

I feel attacked by the double coat Tim Tam comment.

Will miss these Joe, wish you were hanging around.

carlosthedwarf
carlosthedwarf (@carlosthedwarf)
Admin
Gun
Reply to  Surgebuster
2 months ago

Excellent news.

Stilesy
Stilesy (@stilesy)
Admin
Gun
2 months ago

What a note to go out on Joe. Cracking read mate, you will be missed! A stalwart of the site and SuperCoach community :salutes:

The Pretender
The Pretender (@the-pretender)
Gun
Reply to  Stilesy
2 months ago

He has been. I am glad he will still be around as I love his anecdotes. Good to see you around Stilesy, you have been immense this preseason.

Stilesy
Stilesy (@stilesy)
Admin
Gun
Reply to  The Pretender
2 months ago

Thanks mate! Hopefully I’ve been some help.

BT
BT (@bt)
Gun
2 months ago

Great stuff as always Surge! Still after all these years, I can’t seem to follow them. They always seem to get written on opposite day….

Aizen1986
Aizen1986 (@aizen1986)
Gun
2 months ago

Brilliant as always Surge cheers, enjoy your retirement

Monty Burns
Monty Burns (@mackeydevils)
Gun
2 months ago

Thanks Surge. A fitting note to bow out of SC content creation on.

If no one else picks up the mantle next year i reckon we’ll all relapse. And won’t someone think of the rookie SCers !

perrin_07
perrin_07 (@perrin_07)
Gun
2 months ago

Excellent as always surge

Janty
Janty (@janty)
2 months ago

One mistake I make every season is to go too cheap in CTW to start the season.

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