‘Football huh? Scores went back to being close this past weekend and we got to see some cracking games, like the two on Sunday. Those games were not only blockbusters that lived up to the billing, but the SuperCoach stars produced the goods. Smith (100), Munster (127), Tedesco (82) and Bateman (80), are all popular players and they all scored excellently. Other popular players; Cook and Murray, weren’t outstanding but scored respectably. And then the next level guys like Hodgson, Croker, Keary and Crichton also had decent outings. It meant scores were well up again, which is more fun for everyone.
It was a tough round for captains matchups last week, made harder by the weather in parts. This week is just the opposite. We’ve got a lot of great options all across the weekend. Turbo is due a big score. Cook plays the club that kept Lichaa over him (the disrespect). The Broncos and Panthers square of in a direct battle to cement a top 8 position. And another top 4 blockbuster is on the cards down in Canberra. Plus, the way the Titans are gifting points at the moment, I’m tempted to just list every single Eels player but I’ve kept it to just two. Let’s check it out.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Scores – 46 – Position Averages – 46.4
It’s not a hard decision this week. I know I said something similar last weekend, but then the weather went and ruined that. As a result, Turbo scored his second straight 40 point game. Also, Manly lost to New Zealand just as they were making a push for a top 4 berth. That should have them all riled up for the Tigers. Wests have been hard to score on from fullback this year, and kept DWZ to 34 last weekend. Only three guys have scored about 70 on them. But now, they’ll be without Farah and Mbye for the foreseeable future plus Garner suspended, which drastically weakens the side. So, with all that and adding Turbo’s 71.2 average over his past 5 Tigers games (including 131 in 2017), I don’t know why you’d look anywhere else. Seriously, I don’t know why I’m bothering with two more VC options. Although…
Clint Gutherson – Previous Score – 53 – Position Average – 65.75
Over the past few months, I’ve been going on a bit about how easy fullbacks have it against the Dragons. Well, hot on their tails (double Dragon pun there) is the Gold Coast Titans. They are allowing a whopping 65 PPG to fullbacks on the year, including Teddy’s 155 score two weeks ago. They did just keep Corey Norman to 44 points, but it’s Corey Norman. Everyone else in the Dragons side dominated. Leading into Teddy’s game, the Titans had allowed a 5RA of 93 to the position. Incredible. But what about Gutho who scored 53 last week even with two tries. Is he a worthwhile play? You could argue for and against it. On one hand, Brad Arthur is ruining him with 20 minute hooking shenanigans each week. Gutho scored about 2 points during that stretch last weekend. On the other hand, he has a 84.75 average from his most recent 4 games on the Gold Coasters. This one is away from BankWest, but I’m expecting another onslaught for the hapless Titans. Sorry to their fan/s.
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – 139 – Position Average – 42.05
How long is Maloney out? Can we extend it? Kid was sensational last week and knocked out his first ton in over two years. He’s regularly getting 80’s and 90’s but doesn’t seem to go that step further. Until he did. It was fun to watch for those that played him. It was awful for those that decided he was a trade-out following the 34 points from the week before. When will people learn? Cleary has played the Broncos three times. He’s scored 57 twice and last year he had 80. The Broncos were a better side then too, but they did manage to hold Michael Morgan to just 36 points in the shame-of-the-year contender. Seriously, what an awful game that was. But anyway, Cleary is a great play this weekend.
Payne Haas – Previous Score – 79 – Position Average – 52.35
Despite playing the Friday night game (insert Broncos early-round gripe here), Haas must be considered almost every week. He is as safe a captain as it gets. The guy constantly knocks out 70’s and if he isn’t doing that, he’s upping it to a triple-figure score. And he’s practically a rookie still. The guy is going to be on everyone’s SuperCoach teams for a very long time. But being a rook and having never played the Panthers, I can’t give you a rundown of past performances. All you need to know is that Haas has a low score of 51 this year and he’s only scored under 70 another three times.
Cam Smith– Previous Score – 100 – Position Average – 53.1
Can someone explain the Cam Smith phenomenon to me. What is going on? He is on a career-best SuperCoach run at the moment (unsubstantiated claim). His last five scores have been 100, 108, 53, 102 and 101. That is a completely insane run and consistency. This dude is supposed to be old and slowing down. It’s not all roses for this gun though. Canberra are one of the tougher teams this year, and while hookers have had some success on them (ranked 6th), they kept Sam Verrills to 20 points last week and Smith himself only scored 46 in round 2. In the previous few years aren’t amazing either: 43, 63, 44, 81 and 80. So there’s a bit of a history vs current form situation. And looking at what he just did to another top 4 side, I’m backing current form.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 99 – Position Average – 51.85
Way to step up SJ. After the Turbo/weather news, I panic switched my captained to Johnson. Then halfway through the game, I was adamant I’d captained the wrong halfback, as Cleary was on a tear. I mean, I still did but SJ’s class throughout the game lead to a fantastic score for me. One that I was more than happy with. It caps a remarkable five-week run for an average of 88.6 with another favourable matchup against St George coming up. They are ranked 5th at ease of scoring for right side halves and gave Ryley Jacks 62 points last week (who I actually think plays the other side but Peachey (43) isn’t a half in my book). SJ only had 45 on them last year; 55, 64 and 79 before that, but he’s in incredible form and I wouldn’t talk anyone out of captaining him this weekend. Just be wary of a Cleary VC ruining the option for you.
Viliame Kikau – Previous Score – 41 – Position Average – 53.95
Third guy from the same game but a far more risky proposition than the other two considering his repeat 40’s lately. Since it’s an early game, I guess you could VC Kickers if that was your flavour but I’d much rather take the shot on a high-ceiling type. Kikau could be that although with a career high of 101, it doesn’t seem likely. Instead, you’d be hoping for a Kenny-Bromwich-like 124 breakout game against a terrible defence such as the Broncos right side. Kikau had a score of 69 on the Broncos in their one matchup last season and it wasn’t all that long ago he was busting out 70’s for fun.
Cameron Munster – Previous Score – 127 – Position Average – 50.05
At the risk of chasing last week’s points, I bring you Cam Munster. How good was he against the Bunnies? In fact, he’s been pretty amazing over the past few months. He was easily Queensland’s man-of-the-series, and his latest SuperCoach scores have been 127, 94, 44, 90, 50 and then 91. Like his namesake, Munster was pretty subpar in that round 2 game. He had just 41 that day, a Storm 12 point win. But with the way the Raiders are playing now, he’ll need to repeat the performance from last game. Luke Keary had 53 points against them in the best game of round 21. This game is shaping up to be the game of round 22, and hopefully for owners, Munster steps up in this big game.
Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 74 – Position Average – 55.8
This is the version of Angus Crichton that we were expecting when he joined the Roosters this season. The hard-running, attack-stat-stuffing, premium 2nd rower producing captainable scores weekly. But for whatever reason, he’s been relegated to the bench and bit roles for most of the year. Until Boyd Cordner’s old man injury has gifted Gussy a solid run in the starting side. He’s taken the opportunity with almost two hands, banking 74 and 80 in the last two games. Angus also had a 94 on the Warriors when he played them last year, albeit as a member of the Bunnies. Cordner is expected to miss another game or even two, but if he comes back this week (as he’s hinted at doing), this changes my confidence. One to watch.
For what it’s worth, I don’t hate Matterson this week. But he’s probably the only Tiger I’d be willing to even play. You wouldn’t captain any of them, but a VC throw might pique your interest on Thursday night. Problem is, it’s just an awful situation for the club this week, especially nearing finals with them trying to secure a spot in the top 8. They’re missing their inspirational leader, club captain and a starting second-rower, and they get to play an Eagles side fighting for a top 4 spot coming off a shock loss. Nothing is going right for Wests leading into this game. Realistically, you won’t own too many of their players. I guess this is more aimed at Marsters, who despite Mbye getting injured, still couldn’t regain kicking duties. And for me, I’m steering well clear of Nofoaluma this week. If you won’t use it on Tom, just save your VC for a better day.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 48 – Position Average – 54.7
It’s a dark day when I’m recommending avoiding Ponga. If I’m being honest, I mostly just want a place to vent about the rubbish Knights. What, in the actual f, is going on with this club? They’re looking every bit of the wooden spoon sides that were running out two or three years ago, but worse because this team has some “talent” throughout. It’s been extremely frustrating to watch. I’m far more confident in this coming week than I have been recently, as the Cowboys are in as bad (or worse) shape than the Knights are and I’ve been looking forward to this game as one to get us back on track. With the NQ club allowing over 50 points to fullbacks in 2019, the potential is there for the Ponga bounce back we’ve all been looking for. In saying that, if the boys lose this game I think that will be the end of me for the rest of the NRL year.
Jazz Tevaga – Previous Score – 78 – Position Average – 54.95
Jazz continued his epic run last week with another 70+ game, giving him a 5RA of 75.4 now. But, he was struggling throughout the game until ducking over for a try from dummy half very late in the piece. It boosted his score by almost 30 points in that one play (due to associated linebreak). The rain was obviously belting down, but those are the type of tackling conditions that Jazz should be thriving in. It’s the dummy half work that is killing him. He’s just shuffling the ball out and not making any of the runs he has been, so if named in that role this week, he’s a borderline sit, let alone a captain choice.
Mitchell Moses – Previous Score – 70 – Position Average – 57.5
Similar to Gutho’s write up, Moses’ potential this week is HUGE. Ben Hunt (99) and Gareth Widdop (104) went nuts last week; the very same Garteh Widdop who scored 6 points the week before. Just imagine what someone good can do.
Anthony Milford – Previous Score – 42 – Position Average – 47.35
42 points with a try. Milford keeps finding new ways to disappoint owners. He has a recent average of 78.6 on the Panthers, including a 136 in 2017. And Catfish is refusing to lose faith, so there’s that.
Jason Taumalolo – Previous Score – 55 – Position Average – 48.95
Is big JT as “lock-in” as we once proclaimed him to be? After not scoring under 70 in his first seven (healthy) games, he’s now gone under that mark five times in his last seven games, culminating in his season-worst 55 last week. But he plays the Knights, so a return to form is coming.
Cameron Murray – Previous Score – 62 – Position Average – 56.6
I’m very intrigued by Murray this week. He had 72 against the Dogs in round 6, and past scores of 48, 78 and 65. Ryan Matterson scored 92 on them last week despite the Tigers loss.
Ken Maumalo – Previous Score – 96 – Position Average – 37.05
Here’s Big Ken’s form line from the past six games (inconsequential order): 52, 91, 45, 95, 45, 96. If the pattern continues, we’re in for another sub-50 game, and against the Roosters, it might just happen.
Paul Vaughan – Previous Score – 90 – Position Average – 53.58
Having been looking closely at Josh Papalii as a POD trade-in, I was pointed in the Paul Vaughan direction and let me tell you, he’s been pretty good. In the five since Origin, big Paulie has scored 44 (direct after game 3), 77, 72, 44 and 90.
Wade Graham – Previous Score – 93 – Position Average – 53.55
And just quietly, how good is Wade Graham going? A 98 and 93 since returning from injury. Take a bow.
SJ completely bailed me out last weekend and kept the solid run of captains scores going. It didn’t look so good early on, but his brilliance came to the fore when the Sharks really needed it. I can’t imagine the frustrations of former owners who traded him out after that 20 point game and benching.
Turbo is my VC this week (weather permitting). I’ll be somewhat surprised if I need to then use the captain’s armband but if I do, I’ll be looking squarely at my Eels prospects. Even if it is on the Coast, I have a feeling that one is going to get real ugly.
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. And keep an eye out for an NFL piece dropping later this week. We’re not too far away now.