JASON. TAUMALOLO. He’s not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed, and he answered the call when we needed him most. A 138 point demolition of the Titans, when almost everyone had him as captain, on a bye affected weekend, was a gift from the SuperCoach Gods. I can do nothing else but stand and salute you. Thank you.
With the first of the bye rounds out of the way, we can now return to (semi) normal programming, with a keen eye on the round 16 bye week. We have to start considering the guns that play that round and making moves to shore up our sides with the 11 trades we have left until then. You’ll find a few of those guys mentioned below too.
Fair warning before we get started. It might be best to take a good hard look at any of your Origin players who will potentially be backing up after Wednesday night. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the Friday and Saturday players be withdrawals, so have a plan in place and don’t let yourself get caught out. Make sure you check out Stilsey’s Mail in what’s going to be a massive round for the poor guy. But he’s handling the responsibility with aplomb. Wacko who, amirite?
Mitchell Pearce – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 42.8
Pearce has been on some sort of a role lately. The man is playing so well that his name was even brought up in Origin discussions, despite his horrendous record. Not coincidentally, his own form has matched that of Newcastle’s resurgence and he’s sporting an incredible 5RA of 90.8 PPG, with a low score of 75 during that time. This week is a big test for both he and the Knights, taking on the premiership near-favourite Rabbitohs. They’re the 3rd stingiest side when it comes to opposing halfbacks, and traditionally aren’t a team Pearce does well against. What I do like though, is the weeks rest verse a bruised and battered Bunnies side with Origin stars either backing up or out, and Sam Burgess playing injured.
John Bateman – Previous Score – 79 – Position Average – 56.9
The West Tigers are the easiest side to score on if you’re a left-side 2RF, so I had to get Bate-Gun back into my side ASAP. It helps too that I want so very much to get Croker out of my side. So it’s Raider-to-Raider for me this week. And I will likely even throw the VC on SuperCoach’s favourite Brit (yeh, Sam Burgess. Shots fired). Bateman pumped out a 79 on return from a facial fracture injury layoff. Yes, the try helped but he still looked busy as always. His low score this year is 57, excluding the injury affected game and even then he had 21 in 26 minutes. The man is a beast and the only thing holding me back from straight Captaining him (that isn’t named Lolo), is the fact he plays on Friday night.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 39.7
If it weren’t for the triple-figure BE, I’d be all over RTS this weekend. He plays the Storm who are the hardest team to score against from a SuperCoach standpoint, and Roger’s recent scores against them haven’t been amazing (42, 59, 59, 7, 88, 39, 103) but there’s one thing working in his favour. The game is in New Zealand on Saturday. Not only does that mean a long haul flight for the Storm to even get there, but a good chunk of the side (four to be exact) just played in the State of Origin on Wednesday night. So, they can’t go over and get accustomed to being there ahead of time, and the flight means a tough recovery for them. I’m expecting a very hard fought game from the Dubs, lead by their Captain.
Cam Smith – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 57.7
The one major player for Melbourne who didn’t feature on Wednesday night. Smithers is looming as one of the better options for round 16 (unless you’re Wenin) and he could even get it started as early as this weekend. He’s not playing too bad for an old man, with a 5RA of 69.8 and he has a fine history on the Warriors. His last nine encounters with them have seen him scoring at 75.9 PPG, including an 84 point outing in round 7 this year. Plus, New Zealand are allowing close to 60 PPG to opposing hookers in 2019, good for 4th most in the comp.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 61.5
Fifita is another man with a fantastic matchup. The Eels are giving up the highest scores to starting front rowers this year, including 88 and 70 (Scott and McLean), 58 and 76 (Tamou and Grant), 78 and 42 (Burgess x2) just over the past three games. If those names can do that, imagine how high Fifita will go. His numbers against the Eels are already super impressive, averaging 84 in his last five games thanks to scores of 89, 66, 72, 104 and another 89 from round 4 this season. If you haven’t already got him, mark Fifi as a trade this week. If you do, consider chucking the armband on the big fella.
Jason Taumalolo – Previous Score – 138 – Position Average – 51.7
Do I even need to say anything more? His play is speaking for itself.
James Fisher-Harris – Previous Score – 78 – Position Average – 60
Wenin and I spoke a bit about JFH on the podcast this week, and it’s because the man is one of the top range 2RF’s in the game this year. Better yet, he can be played as a FRF. He’s already averaging 65 points on the season, but when you only factor the games he’s played at Lock, where he’s named again this week, that average jumps up to 68.5. His scores against the Roosters previously have been abysmal (24.5 PPG), but to be fair, he’s not been entirely relevant until now so I’m willing to overlook that. The Chooks for their part even allow a high scoring rate to Locks and they’re another team who has a few either out (like Cordner) or backing up from Origin (like Teddy…..hopefully).
Sam Burgess – Previous Score – 54 – Position Average – 52.7
“Vice” Captain Risky in this case, with Sam playing that first game of the weekend. I was extremely close to listing the big Brit as an “avoid” but the Friday game slot and previous scores vs Newcastle saved him. I mentioned this on the Pod, but Sammy didn’t play the Knights last year. In the three games he did play them in 2016-17, his scores were 135, 102 and 55. Which is insane numbers and exactly what you want from your Vice-Captain. His issue at the moment is that wing, which requires a clean up. He’s put that off for a week so he can have one more game before having to miss a few (and it had to be against my Knights). I think he’ll be out for a big game. If not, he’s just the VC anyway.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – DNP – Position Average – 56.2
Normally, I’m waiting on Turbo given he’s back from a hamstring injury. And as a non-owner, I’m not in a hurry to trade him in until I see he’s fully recovered. But also as a non-owner, I’m very aware that when Turbo returned from a hammy complaint earlier this year he posted a 152 point bonanza. The worry is that he then had 58 in a little over a half before busting that same hammy again. The Eagles have been extra cautious with the man this second time round, even holding him back a little extra so as to avoid the first Origin encounter. But he’s back now and his first matchup is against the Cowboys who are ranked 2nd in scores allowed to fullbacks. So it’s a good week to return.
Anthony Milford – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 54.8
Thought I’d throw this one in for Wenin, who’s been trying to recruit members to #teamMilford this week (even after #teamTapine failed so miserably too). Working in his favour is the matchup with the Titans, who are allowing the 5th highest scores to five-eighths this year. In fact, every five-eighth who’s played them recently has gone gangbusters. Cust, Foran, Flanagan and Asiata have combined to post an average of 67.3 PPG over the last four weeks, so Milford has that working in his favour. But in his Broncos career, Milford has had up and down success against the Titans. His average on them from 7 games is 58.1 and scores ranging from 98 to 32. FWIW, I don’t hate the idea of Milford this week, but not particularly long-term.
Robbie Farah – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 53.3
I was closely monitoring Farah as a potential Smith alternative for round 16, but that was up until the Tigers game against Souths. He had his worst game of the year by a long, long way (excluding the concussion game) and it wasn’t even because the Bunnies are a tough opponent, but it was a direct result of Jacob Liddle’s inclusion to the side. Farah stated at the start of the season that he’d be happy to play alongside and mentor the young rake, but up until round 11 that hadn’t happened. And then all of a sudden, Liddle is on the interchange and plays 35 minutes in a direct split with Farah. It’s killed him as a SuperCoach option, let alone a Captain.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 44.9
Just to be clear, I am very interested in getting SJ into my team once he’s 100% fit and healthy, but that’s not this week. FWIW, I think SJ is a late inclusion for the Sharks but those hamstring issues are always worth taking a week to sit back and watch how he goes on return (Turbo aside). And obviously, if he’s not playing this is an irrelevant post. But if he does make his way into the side, it’s an easy wait and see moment. Don’t do it.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs St George Dragons
Not just for the guys playing as Captain options, but avoid this game altogether. Doesn’t strike me as an entertaining affair.
Some others of Interest
Mitch Barnett – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 50.8
As mentioned in WTA, Wenin and I have been chatting Barnett this week. He’s played 80 minutes every game since Guerra got hurt, with the exception of two HIA’s, and averaged 63,1 PPG. That jumps to 71.4 PPG in non-HIA games. And he kicked when Ponga went out vs Chooks.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – BYE – Position Average – 47.4
Ponga is on fire this year. But he won’t play on Friday. Confirmed now.
Jordan Rapana – Previous Score – DNP – Position Average – 39
Returning a week too late for bye planning, but just in time if you’re an owner (somehow. Draft maybe?). Rapana’s last five scores against the Tigers are 62, 136, 82, 163, 78.
Josh Papalii – Previous Score – 63 – Position Average – 49.9
Just a quick one on Papalii despite his Origin appearance two days prior. His last six games against the Tigers have been 100, 82, 112, 92, 56, 60. But then again, I’m sceptical that he backs up.
Nathan Brown – Previous Score – DNP – Position Average – 63.4
Brown has been spoken about as making his return this round, so I’d be surprised if he isn’t promoted to at least the bench. His last three games against the Sharks have seen him score in the 60’s.
Michael Morgan – Previous Score – DNP – Position Average – 51
Morgo at fullback is…….interesting. Since 2015, he’s had four games in the #1; two in 2015 and two in 2018. He’s averaged 40.
Just one more time, I’d like to raise a glass to Taumalolo. It was a phenomenal game. Controversial maybe, but still amazing.
As mentioned throughout, I’m not going too crazy this weekend. Throwing the VC on Bateman more than likely, and then following up with Taumalolo again. I just can’t go past him. The man is averaging 96.8 in games that he hasn’t been injured. Wow.
As always, you can ask me any follow-ups in the comments below and hopefully I’ll be able to help some more. Good luck.