When will it stop? Yes, we may have come out of the other side of the bye rounds but we haven’t got back to normalcy just yet. Origin continues to ruin SuperCoach. Tedesco hasn’t been named this week, his second rest of the period. It’s a huge omission for owners hoping he would be able to back up and that he had his break after the last Origin game, but it’s not to be. Plus, Ponga remains out and Cleary has only been named in the reserves as a longshot to return. David Klemmer, Ben Hunt and Paul Vaughan (and others) are both named in the reserves also. On top of that, we’re missing Jai Arrow which may not be a direct impact of Origin but could likely be attributed to the three games he had in nine days (SoO1 5 June, r13 9 June, r14 14 June).
And I’m writing all of this on the morning of Origin 3, so we’re yet to even see the outcomes and aftermath of the decider. Strap yourself in for another rocky weekend of injuries, late withdrawals and reduced minutes. I hope you’ve got Stilesy (@AStilesAuthor) notifications on.
Finally, we’ve got a huge milestone being hit by one of the NRL’s greatest and most loved players. I am of course talking about Benji Marshall, who brings up #300 against the Eels during the battle of BankWest. Benji has to be one of the all-time entertainers of the game and it will be a huge pleasure to watch him bring up this milestone.
Just kidding, there is obviously one other guy with a big milestone being hit. It’s Gavin Cooper who also joins the 300-club. That’s all. Let’s check out round 17.
Connor Watson – Previous Score – 27 – Position Average – 60.33
Thanks to the decider, round 17 starts on Friday evening, however I don’t love the first match up. The Coast don’t have many (if any) decent captain options and the best ones for the Panthers are either injured or backing up. So I skip to game 2 of the weekend and to Connor Watson. He’s not the Knights fullback I would have liked to have been previewing, but against the Doggies, he’ll do in a pinch. Canterbury are second only to the Dragons in regard to points given up to fullbacks despite giving Moylan just 49 last time out. If you’d watched that game, you’d know Moylan actually had a ‘mare so it’s a decent score. And the three scores allowed prior to that were 136, 69 and 64. It’s a long shot but one that could pay huge dividends.
Cody Walker – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 52.47
With the tough schedule and late start to the round following SoO3, I’ve pushed into Saturday for the Vice-Captains this week. It really hasn’t been the greatest period of Cody’s career. He scored 20 in round 11, had that awful Origin debut, was dropped for the follow up, then has scored 36 and 59. But you can’t keep a talent like him quiet for too long, even though Manly might seem a difficult task on paper. These sides met earlier this year and in that one, Cody had 64. In years gone past he’s had 63, 25, 117, 65 and 65 against the SilverTails, who will also have DCE and both TurBros backing up, if playing at all.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Previous Score – 41 – Position Average – 54.33
My second Saturday VC is more of a gut feel and/or hope I think. There is still some logic applied though. Similar to the Watson write up, Moylan was the last man to play RTS’s next opponent, the Broncos. He had 40 points in 58 minutes in a bad game, before being pulled to rest a suspect hammy. The two games leading into that were against Kurt Mann (58) and Clint Gutherson (59). This season, Brisbane are the fifth easiest side to score on, which includes another 41 point game from RTS in round 11. He also had just 66 and 38 last season too and 54, 43, 80 and 64 on Brisbane in past seasons. But I still like the idea of him as a VC.
Payne Haas – Previous Score – 96 – Position Average – 52.97
Honestly, how good is this kid? He has to be the SuperCoach rookie of the year, surely. Feel free to argue this but I don’t think I’ll be persuaded. Which is tough for me to admit as an avid Broncos hater. However, a 2019 average of about 74 points, a low score of 51 and 5RA of 76 is incredible. One of those huge games this year came against the Warriors in round 11, when he had 74 points against a side averaging just under 53 points allowed to opposing props. This average has been blown away lately though. In the past three weeks, starting props have scored 40, 37 (Gavet, King), 78, 90 (JFH, Tamou), 75, 86 (Fotuaika, Wallace). Herman Ese’ese also had 79 last week.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – DNP (Susp) – Position Average – 48.03
It is very rare that I’ll suggest two props as safe captains, but I just can’t wait to get big Fifi back into my squad this weekend. He’s got a lot to make up for after the suspension cost me a vital member of my round 16 side. And he should be up for a huge one. He had his Tongan jersey taken away thanks to that suspension, has missed the Sharks collapse in recent weeks, and will be without Gallen who was injured last week and Wade Graham, who got hurt in SoO3 (guy can’t catch a break). And of course, it is Cam Smith’s #400 milestone game. I had to mention it eventually.
Ryan Matterson – Previous Score – 101 – Position Average – 52.87
Making up for Fifi’s absence last week was Matto who beasted the Tigers game and cracked the ton. Matterson was my #1 pick for the weekend and didn’t let me down, even though I actually ran the VC on Latrell in the same game. Matto’s 74 point 5RA is one of the best in the comp right now and he doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. He only had 54 on the Eels earlier this year, his equal second worst score of the season. And the Eels have proven to be one of the harder sides to score on from right 2RF, but his current form is amazing and I’ll be backing him in once again.
John Bateman – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 62.8
Originally, I was looking at Bateman as a safe pick, but he was bumped in favour of the three men above. Still he’s on the cusp and I like him against the Dragons who are one of two sides allowing over 60 PPG to right 2RF’s. If you have a quick scan of who the last five guys in that position were, you come up with: Joe Stimson (84), Shane Wright (67), Curtis Sironen (65), Raymond Faitala-Mariner (73), Briton Nikora (63). Stop me when you find the premium 2RF gun in there. It’s an amazing run, and despite the slower patch for Bateman right now (5RA of 56.4), he’s a prime candidate for a monster bounce-back game.
Latrell Mitchell – Previous Score – 110 – Position Average – 41.93
Thank you Latrell. His score (VC looped) solely brought some respectability to my side. It wasn’t looking great early on, but a dominant second half had me a happy man. To be completely honest, ‘Trell has responded well to his NSW axing with scores of 97, 38 (at 5/8 vs Melbourne) and 110. I can excuse that middle score playing out of position and against defensive heavyweights. He had 75 against the Cowboys last year, and the ‘Boys will be missing Morgo after that sickening head knock on Wednesday night. Hoping he’s all ok, and also hoping that Latrell keeps providing these giants scores.
Clint Gutherson – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 44.6
Gutho actually has one of the harder matchups this weekend as the Tigers rank bottom three in opposing fullback average allowed. The past five games against them have been awful. CNK (40), Kahu (14 in 85 minutes), Corey Allan (44 and 36) and Joey Manu (22 and concussion) have been a major part of that. In fact, the highest fullback score on Wests this year is 88, from the King himself. He scored 17 on them last season (as wooden spooners) and 71, 100, 68 and 26 in the seasons before that. Wests aren’t too Origin affected, making the play a big risk. But then again, neither are the Eels.
Cam Murray – Previous Score – 43 – Position Average – 53.73
I’ll back what Wenin said in his WTA on Tuesday. Murray is an outstanding talent, but it appears that the Origin commitment is wearing his down a bit. He’s young, it’s to be expected, but even still a 3RA of 45 points is awful for one of the premier 2RF’s of this year. The kid only played 32 minutes, which would point to him being fresh enough to back up, but he was involved and active throughout and as such may see a reduced workload, especially with Sam back too. It feels to me like the kid needs a rest but when or if that comes is anyone’s guess. It might simply be a case of load management.
Sam Burgess – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 56
Feels like I’m picking on the Bunnies a little bit here but this is basically just a warning to temper expectation on Sammy Boy in his return. It’s not like he’s been suspended (as usual) for a few weeks and comes in ready to rip. He’s coming back from shoulder surgery so could very well be eased in. Leading up to the surgery, Burgess was only scoring in the 40’s and 50’s, which could be a result of the gammy shoulder. He had 77 on Manly in round 4 this year, but has previous games of 68, 47, 65, 83 and 43.
As always, I just have to urge you to be wary of all the guys who will be backing up from the Wednesday night game. Perhaps you should be hanging all your captaincy hopes on someone who may be a late out. I’ve avoided writing about them above where I could, but I’ve mentioned one or two below in the others of interest. Just have a backup plan if you are going to go that way.
Others of Interest
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 55.73
If Cleary gets promoted from the reserves, and it’s a big “if”, then I love the match up for him. He has scores of 82, 75 and 74 on the Titans in his past three, including round 5 this year.
Viliame Kikau – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 55.93
Same game and matchup for Kicker except he’s on a massive roll. Last five scores this year are 70, 70, 111, 42 and 70. And he’s also had 78 in that earlier encounter.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 47.73
Turbo had a much quieter game for NSW than he did in the 2nd encounter so there’s hope for a back up against a team he had 58 points in 42 minutes on in round 4. However Manly won’t risk his hammies again so prepare for the withdrawal.
Tevita Pangai – Previous Score – 106 – Position Average – 56.4
Was the Sharks domination a one-off, or a sign of things to come? NZ aren’t as strong as Cronulla and yet TPJ has only scored 33 and 25 against them over the past two seasons.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 20 – Position Average – 34.53
I’m praying that Cleary gets up so I don’t have to play SJ again. Not sure what’s going on there but something isn’t right. And playing against the hardest team in the SuperCoach comp? No thanks.
Cam McInnes – Previous Score – 76 – Position Average – 51.13
McInnes has been huge lately. He has games of 65 and 76 since succumbing to concussion in round 14. He also had 69 points against the Raiders last season.
Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad – Previous Score – DNP (Bye) – Position Average – 68.07
CNK finally broke back out for a huge game in round 15, with 88 points. It had been a lean period for the kid but that should see some confidence back, and he plays the Dragons with that very encouraging fullback average.
Just to confirm before I get the litany of “where’s Lolo?” comments, I’m still not writing about him because he’s an every week option. You really shouldn’t need me to tell you that he’s good. He is. Don’t question it.
I, for one, am really glad that the byes are behind us, even if we’re not completely out of the woods just yet. At least we have full amount of teams to choose from. I’m going to start throwing some caution to the wind in my captain picks I think. I’ll line up Turbo as VC, with RTS to step into both the fullback slot and VC responsibility should Tommy not back up. As captain, I might take a sneaky stab at Bateman.
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.