After finishing Round 2 of the 2018 season in the lofty overall position of 4th (first time I can remember not being in the 5-digits so early), I’m feeling the pressure to get my year off to a flier again. It’s amazing just what that can do for your team. You don’t have to take as many risks to claw your way back so soon into the year and you can even hold trades early if you get it right – a miracle, I know! While it’s not completely make or break getting every single POD right first up, it’s bloody helpful if you can get close.
In all honesty, I can’t put last year’s start down to anything more than pretty much dumb luck. Outside of a decision to go with a hooking combination of Cook and Havili and leave Smith out against plenty of expert advice not to, and not starting everyone’s #1 cheapie Sione Katoa (the Sharks’ one, Surge), it
Guys like Euan Aitken, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Elliott Whitehead managed to fall over the line (several times in my boy Whitehead’s case) or set tries up and belt out some big, gun-like scores for me. Enough to put my neck out above the pack, who had maybe played it a little too safe or a little too wild with their picks here. Now, obviously you can’t really bank on that sort of thing happening every year, but maybe lightning will strike twice!
In order to fit mid-range guys like Shaun Lane, Isaiah Papal’ii and Kerrod Holland in around my set-and-forget second row, I’ve had to cut back on my out-and-out guns in other positions. No Ponga, no Marty, no Cook, no Cleary. I’m taking one hell of a gamble in doing that, given the high ownership of those players listed and their potential to go large. But, by going with attacking mid-rangers in those positions, I’m giving myself a chance that one or more of them can nab some attacking stats and go close to matching the scores I’m likely forsaking. I don’t expect them to turn into guns, but I’m hedging my bets there. If they go big, great. I’ll have some great price rises to put towards turning them into the players I’ve missed out on down the track. If not, the damage is limited by their middling prices.
It’s a gamble, but one out of five times, it’s worked every time.
So, NRLSCTalk Community – unleash your constructive and unconstructive criticism!
Like every SuperCoach player, we’ve basically taken what we can get with the cheapies on offer. It’s the only way we can stick guns in basically every position. So I won’t go into too much detail with those guys, other than making sure you consider your matchups carefully when moving your CTW cheapies into your starting side. It’s also the toughest position to get right in the first place given the scoring volatility, so I feel like stacking the CTW with cheapies as I’ve done here is limiting the risk.
Outside of these, there are several players who have never left my side since Day 1. Of course, James Tedesco, Andrew Fifita and Jake Trbjovic for obvious reasons. But let me put my Cowboys-brand Howdy Hat on here for a moment and go through my other non-negotiables:
Jason Taumalolo: SuperCoaches have been convincing themselves all pre-season that this guy is just not worth it. The heat early on, moving to an edge, losing the GOAT in Johnathan Thurston being some of the main factors. Anything and everything they can think of. I have to laugh.
The heat might be an issue to some soft-bellied southerners, but you would imagine in his 10th pre-season training in it that he’d be a little used to it by now. Have you ever seen this guy look tired? He runs as hard at 80 minutes as he does in the first. Not an issue.
Splitting game time between an edge and the middle will only open up the opportunity for some huge attacking stats running at smaller men, and he’ll still have time at lock to put in plenty of base stats. Not an issue.
The loss of JT is a tough one for the club, but the guy won a Dally M teaming up with Michael Morgan in 2017. Not an issue.
This guy is a beast who is now needed to lead the club from the front to make up for a poor last year. When he fires early, there’ll be plenty of catching up for those that doubted the Great One.
Michael Morgan: The price is right. The heir to JT’s halfback throne and the guy who has plenty of form leading this side without him as he did in 2017? The guy who will be taking on one hell of a workload in driving the attack of this side around with bit-part players in TMM and Jordan Kahu in the spine and playing behind one of the best forward packs in the competition? There is absolutely no way this guy doesn’t break the $600k mark at some point this year, and possibly quite early on. He looked as composed as ever in the trial against the Storm and I see no need to reconsider my early call. The discount he gives on other premium options in the halves helps fund the all-out guns I’ve gone with, and that’s value in itself.
Jai Arrow: He was a lock for me as soon as word came out that he was relatively injury-free in the off-season, and I only needed one look at him in the trial game against the Broncos to see he’s ready to do it all again this year. His price is outstanding for the value he can push out. You just can’t keep out guys that keep this busy. Welcome back, Jai!
The Risky Picks
Of course, nobody can start the year without taking a few risks. I’ve stacked the CTW position with cheapies, but this is where they have the most upside. The biggest punts I’ve taken outside of these, are:
Josh Hodgson: Well, not just the fact that I’m playing him, as he is a tremendous SuperCoach player, but the fact I’ve gone without Cook in doing so. He’s primed for an 80-minute run free from injuries and with plenty of attacking work to be done in a side with lots of skill. But I’m banking on those attacking stats happening to make up the gap between him and Cook. I need Hodgson to be running plenty and I need the scorers to be kind on him when he’s feeding the Raiders forwards close to the line.
Kerrod Holland: He’s by far the most expensive CTW I have, and I tossed up between moving him to HOK in place of Friend and finding someone else, but I couldn’t see many other CTWs that offered his value in that positon. He’s kicking goals in place of Martin which is a boost, but will there be enough opportunities given the side he’s playing in? The Dogs looked very comfortable shifting it his way in the trials (as they did at the back end of last year), but even without tries and goals, his BPPG of 32 when playing at centre last year (and 30 BPPG when playing centre in 2016) puts him at a gun-level floor for CTW.
Nathan Cleary. This is a guy that I had considered a lock from the get-go, right up until this last week when off-field turmoil at his club has thrown more than a few question marks in the air about just how well they will start off the year. On the field wasn’t much better either, as they were beaten 20-0 at home in a terrible performance against the Eels of all teams. It was enough to make me downgrade him to a safer option in Cameron Munster, and gave me a handy boost to my cash balance in the process. It’ll be tough, but there’s a huge risk that he puts all of the negativity behind him and comes out all guns blazing. As a goalkicking half with great base stats, he’s one that could definitely hurt me if my replacement fails to fire.
If I traded my Howdy Hat for a Salary Sombrero
Kalyn Ponga: Not just because he’s a gun player, but as Wilfred pointed out in his fantastic halves article, I’m going completely against the grain by not picking him based on his high ownership %. If he gets going, it’s going to be very tough to find a way to upgrade to him unless I get some juicy price rises early from the litany of CTW cheapies I have. I’m listening to my heart more than my head here, as I still harbour somewhat of a grudge for my own club not finding room in the sombrero for him, and I have my doubts about his ability to churn out as many regular high scores in the #6 jersey. But, no question about it, if I could afford him on top of the guys I’ve gone with already, he’d be the first in. All aboard the death-ride express!