It was almost 2 weeks ago now, but round 14 was a crushing weekend, all puns intended. We had four instances of crusher tackles reported, and two of those resulted in lengthy suspensions that have ultimately screwed SuperCoaches out of significant round 16 players. Thanks for nothing Fifi and Barnett. Then there were the supposed safety captain choices failing on us at our time of need. Lolo had just 63. Cook 55, Ponga 60 (as my captain and VC respectively). Bateman had his worst game of the season (excluding injury) with just 49.
On top of that was the “have-nots” and the “what-ifs”. Topping this list was Turbo Tom, who just exploded against the Dragons for 167 points. St George were already the easiest team for fullbacks to score on before that and it definitely won’t have changed afterwards. It was a masterclass and extremely hard to watch as a non-owner. Speaking of non-owner, I held off trading in Matto (74) and Latrell (97) for fear of Origin recalls. I held off RTS (84) and Maumalo (104) because of big BE’s.
But perhaps most crushing of all, was seeing Joey Manu score nearly 140 in the position that James Tedesco was supposed to be playing as my captain. That one really hurt.
I’ve put that all behind me now. I’m all about redemption for my team and the best way to do that is to find the best possible captain pick this week. And I’ve got some beauties for you. Keep in mind, I haven’t mentioned Lolo as he’s pretty much a lock-in Captain choice every week if you want to go that way (side note: Lolo had 99 against St George in round 1).
Damian Cook – Previous Score – 55 – Position Average – 54
We’ve been given a peace offering from the SuperCoach Gods heading into round 15. The Rabbits v Tigers game on Thursday night provides the perfect chance to run a VC as heaps of SuperCoach relevant players will be running out there, and there’s no better option than the best SC Hooker in the game. Cook may have had a rough couple of weeks around the first bye weekend (a 2RA of 40.5), and Wests are just a middle of the pack team when it comes to hookers scoring, but it was only in round 11 when he completely tore apart the Tigers to the tune of 124 SuperCoach points. Subsequently, that was the last time the Bunnies tasted success, losing their next three encounters. There will be a big effort here to rectify that. Cook also had 70 and 68 on them last season.
Michael Morgan – Previous Score – 93 – Position Average – 49.46
With the addition of Scott Drinkwater to the Cowboys, not only does Morgo get to move back into the playmaking role he’s owned for most of the season, but he gets another weapon in the side. A kid described by Billy Slater as being more talented than both Hughes and Papenhuyzen. Those are some big wraps by a man that should know what he’s talking about. But this is about Morgo. He’s been on the up since I traded him out following two games in the 20’s. The past four matches, he’s had 52, 61, 58 and 93 in the tough loss to the Tigers. The Cowboys opened the 2019 campaign against the Dragons and on that night, Morgo produced a 72 point game. He also scored 79 on them the last time he faced them, back in 2017.
Latrell Mitchell – Previous Score – 97 – Position Average – 50
Good ol’ Lazy Latrell may not seem like the greatest option this weekend. He’s not the most renowned worker (obviously). His confidence may have just taken a hit after the Origin axing. And the Chooks are facing the league leading, stingy Melbourne Storm. But let me tell you why it’s not as bad as it looks on paper. We all know his potency with the ball in hand, and just before the break, with his sky blue jersey hanging in the balance, ‘Trell showed just what he could do with 2 tries, a linebreak, linebreak assist, 5 goals and 97 SC points. And then there was that 161 point game in round 8 against Wests. So even with the 30 and 40 point games he’s prone to, his 5RA is over 80 points. But what about the Storm factor? Well, left side players score very well against them actually. They’re the third easiest side to score on from left centre, allowing over 50 PPG this year, one of which was Latrell’s own 86 point game in round 6. Plus, in a horrific (HORRIFIC) game in round 14, Hymel Hunt scored 59 points while even completely bombing an easy and certain try. It was disgusting. Point is, I’m nervous about not owning Latrell this week.
Cameron Smith – Previous Score – 50 – Position Average – 56.4
Smith is what you call a big game player and a top four battle is about as big as it gets in the middle of the NRL season. Smith loves playing the Chooks. He’s dominated them across his entire career and holds a 5 year average of 76 PPG against them, including an 80 in their round 6 encounter. He always performed very well against them. Then there’s this year where the prominent number 9’s have scored at a rate of 56.4 PPG (good for top 5), which even includes 74 points at the hands of Jeremy Marshall-King in round 14. Smith will be one of the better choices this week, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t hate watching him play last round.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – 167 – Position Average – 52.5
If I’m a nervous non-owner of Latrell, then I’m terrified of Tom this week. It’s not just the 167 from last week, although that definitely comes into play, but everything is looking like a positive for the man heading into his matchup with the Titans. First, there’s his form. His year-to-date average is 109.75, and yes it’s from just 4 games but it’s still incredible. 2 of the 4 games have gone over 150. Second, there’s his opponent. Gold Coast are in dire straits. They’ve won just 1 game in the last two months of the season, and are barely keeping their heads above water (water being the Dogs and wooden spoon). They’re desperately missing Ryan James on the field, but now will also be without Jai Arrow and Kevin Proctor too. They’re allowing 52.5 PPG to fullbacks on the season and just had RTS put 84 on them in round 14. Then finally, there’s his history against the Titans. 4 career games; a 112 PPG average; low of 70; a SuperCoach record 194 when they met last year (as my skipper). Actually, looking at all that I might have to work out a way to just get him in.
Nathan Brown – Previous Score – 62 – Position Average – 58.57
Nathan Brown is back to doing what Nathan Brown does best. In his first full game back from injury (and by “full game” I mean he started at Lock), Brown played 59 minutes and knocked up a very solid 62 points. Now that was in an absolute towelling of the Broncos so it presumably could have been more on both counts if the contest was closer, but this is the kind of floor the workhorse has so it was good to see. And the Broncos are one of the harder sides to score on from the Lock position. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the Raiders are at the other end of the scale, ranking 5th and allowing closer to 60 PPG. Old man Gal just had 54 on them in round 14, in 51 minutes. I’m expecting a closer game this time than their first matchup this season; a 19-0 drubbing going the way of the Raiders. At home, the Eels are a different side usually, however this game has been taken to Darwin. But whatever the result, Brownie is a safe 65 ish score at the least. (mmmmm, Brownie).
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 60 – Position Average – 55.13
It’s been a terrible few weeks for Ponga but this could be the bounceback game he needs. Hopefully anyway. If there’s one thing I like more than the Knights winning, it’s the Broncos losing. KP had a quiet, almost non-existent game against the Storm and still managed to score 60 points. It was roughly 20 points more than they’ve been allowing on average. Before that was the multiple tons and 90’s that see his 5RA remain at a very healthy 94 PPG. The Broncos are also one of the easier sides for fullbacks to score on. Not St George levels of easy, but top 5 at over 55 per game. Gutherson scored 59 points last round following up from his brutal concussion game. Working in Ponga’s favour is that the game is back home in front of the Hunter faithful. He’s produced a 74.2 average there this year, including two games when he was at 5/8 to start the year. His last game there? 112 against the Chooks.
Viliame Kikau – Previous Score – 70 – Position Average – 54.77
I want to so badly believe that Kikau is back, and it’s looking that way. He has played 80 minutes in each of his past 4 games, and the scores have been 70, 42, 111 and 70. If you exclude the fact that he missed the crucial round 12 game, it’s been easily his best period of the season. He has averaged nearly 20 points more in that stint than he did across the opening 9 rounds of the year, and his score of 70 against the Bunnies was also roughly 20 points more than they were allowing to left hand 2RF’s. Kikau has always enjoyed playing the Warriors too. That first 70 point game of his I mentioned came in round 10 against the side, and he had 54 and 101 on them last season.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 39 – Position Average – 52
This is the pick I’m least convinced about but the one with the highest risk/reward payoff. It’s no secret that SJ is having an awful year by his high standards. He’s had just two games over 60 points all year against 4 under 45. That makes it sound worse than it is. He’s only played one other game than those because of injury. Needless to say we want more. So bring in the Dogs. Last round, the Raiders came in allowing 41 PPG to SJ’s halves spot, and he scored 39. It was just his first game back from injury and the Dogs are much more giving. They kept Cronk to 43 points, but he’s never been a big scorer. The week before Ben Hunt dropped 101 on them. In Johnson’s last four games against the Dogs, his scores have been 88, 58, 72 and 87. It was at the Warriors but then the Dogs were also better than they currently are too. SJ’s try-scoring double for New Zealand this past week will have gone a long way to boost his confidence and that, with his 76 PPG recent Dogs history sees him as a prime “breakout” candidate.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – DNP (rested) – Position Average – 40.3
Huge call this one. It always is when I’m “avoiding” a guy of Teddy’s ilk. But playing the Storm is a very difficult prospect. As I said, Ponga scored 60 against Melbourne one round ago, and that is the 2nd highest fullback score against them this year. RTS had just 28 when he faced them. And then there was Gutho’s magical outing. I’m sure JT remembers that one fondly. Melbourne have allowed just a pinch over 40 PPG. Teddy has also faced the Storm this year. He had 52. His recent games against them have been 56, 54, 67 and 41. In the interest of full disclosure, he did have a 134 way back in 2015 but that seems the outlier here doesn’t it?
Anthony Milford – Previous Score – 30 – Position Average – 43
Round 14 saw the real Tony return. It’s not that he scored so poorly because the Broncos were well beaten. It was that he suckered so many in after back-to-back 70+ games and then disappeared again. I won’t deny it. The Milf has a huge record vs my Knights. Last 5 games he’s had scores of 100, 64, 153, 72 and 114. He can definitely turn it on. The problem with that is that was when the Knights were wooden spoon contenders. This year they’re sitting at 5th on the ladder with the 4th best defence in the NRL (by points allowed anyway). Milford just had the best matchup for left halves against the Eels. He scored 30. The Knights are at the other end of that spectrum. This isn’t Milford’s week.
John Bateman – Previous Score – 49 – Position Average – 52.93
For not really any other reason than I was looking for a third avoid pick and he, unfortunately, fit the bill. As I said earlier in this piece, Bateman had his worst NRL game last round against the Sharks. It was to be expected as Cronulla are the hardest team to score on from his position on the field. Life only gets slightly easier this week though as the Eels rank 13th in that category despite Gillett putting 89 on them (he scored a try). I expect that Bateman will be better than his last outing, but then again I also expect the Eels to be better than they were last time too. I’m looking elsewhere this time.
David Nofoaluma – Previous Score – 76 – Position Average – 34.63
Nofo has a great track record against Souths. He scored 55 in round 11, his first game of the year. And before he’s scored 39, 61, 67, 109, 73, 83 and 70. Brian To’o just scored 78 on them too.
Cam Murray – Previous Score – 56 – Position Average – 56.8
And then there’s Cam Murray who had 120 on the Tigers in round 11.
Scott Drinkwater – Previous Score – N/A – Position Average – 69
Nobody should have him but he plays the Dragons who, as I mentioned earlier, allow heaps of points to fullbacks.
Jake Trbojevic – Previous Score – 71 – Position Average – 62.7
May as well just play all your Eagles this week. The Titans are a rabble. Jurbo’s most recent games on them are 59, 115, 51, 123, 71 and 46.
Cam Munster – Previous Score – 40 – Position Average – 47.69
Smarting from a game I’m choosing not to speak about, Munster will be wanting to unleash against the epitome of NSW rugby league.
Clint Gutherson – Previous Score – 59 – Position Average – 44.07
King has a career (6 game) average of only 39 points against Canberra. They’re his 2nd worst team to play. They’re also one of the hardest teams to score on this year.
James Maloney – Previous Score – 51 – Position Average – 57.07
It’s Maloney without Cleary. He averaged 73 PPG in the six games he played without the kid last season.
It’s been a long time between SuperCoach drinks and I will not look back at past rounds, no matter how much under 1000 they were. I’m just focusing on what lies ahead.
Cook on Thursday night against a team he recently destroyed, it’s just too tempting to pass up as a VC opportunity. Then my captain will be either one of the Trbojevic brothers. Tom if I figure out a way to make that trade; Jake if I can’t.
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.