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I’m coming at you a day late this week for a few reasons, but mainly for having to wait until after Origin to see what the NRL landscape was going to be. Because of that, Stilesy’s late mail has dropped already and will be continually updated in the lead up to each game. Head on over there to check it out in a very pivotal weekend of updates.
This is such a difficult week for captains, possibly even more so than last week. Following the Wednesday Origin, we have every team back in the fold. But unlike last week, we don’t know heading in who’s healthy and who will actually be there on game day. I’ve heard Turbo say that he’d back up, but reports on Thursday have confirmed he’ll be rested. Teddy has been carrying some injuries but Coach Robinson has said he expects Teddy to be playing on Saturday. Many of the Panthers are being rested also, except for possibly Liam Martin. Cook and Murray are being sat but Latrell and Su’A will back up. It’s all up in the air. Eye’s will be firmly on Stilesy’s mail all weekend.
That being said, I’ve gone through our options (as we currently know them) to find round 14’s best options. Although you may notice that none of those options features fullbacks against the league worst Broncos (99.69 PPG) or 2nd worst Raiders (86.92 PPG). Unfortunately, these teams play each other and the two options we have in this match are Bailey Simonsson and Herbie Farnworth. It’s such a disappointment after recent scoring trends.
Disclaimer: The following is not a science by any means. Nothing written below is gospel. The final decision is up to you.
James Tedesco – Round 13 Score – DNP (Origin) – P2P Average – 75.77 – Captaincy Rate – %
I was all amped up for a Turbo VC this week. He and Manly are playing the Cowboys and their 77 PPG to fullbacks, but Tom and his hammies backing up up from that Origin performance just 46 hours later was always going to be at very long odds. So I suppose a fall-back option of Teddy isn’t the worst option. Reports suggest he is playing at this stage but keep a very close eye on the teams lists leading into this game.
Luckily for Teddy managers, he comes up against the Titans. They’re allowing 75 PPG, including a 156 to Jamayne Isaako and 116 to Tom Trbojevic. The Titans have been a step up from some of their previous seasons but are still giving up plenty of points both on the NRL field and in the SuperCoach world. In those previous seasons, Teddy has enjoyed this matchup. He scored 80 on them last season and 155, 82 and 91 over the three seasons prior to that. He has a career 80 point average on the Gold Coast club over nine games, making them a top three team of his. As has been stated above though, keep an eye on the final team lists, and be prepared for the possibility of a mid-game rest if the Chooks have this tied up early on. But if that’s the case, you’d expect that Teddy will have done his damage already.
Valentine Holmes – Round 13 Score – DNP (Origin) – P2P Average – 66.25 – Captaincy Rate – %
Val is another who is said to be backing up but after getting pummelled relentlessly on Wednesday night, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him rested. If he does play though, he gets to face a Manly side without Tom Trbojevic, and we saw how that went to start the season. They’re still allowing 66 PPG, which is around mid-range as far as fullbacks scoring goes, but pre-Tom (rounds 1-5) that rate was up around 82 PPG. That would put them at 4th easiest to score on the P2P charts.
And Val has been incredible this year. He’s coming off back-to-back tons against the Knights and Warriors, which may not seem like a huge deal but those teams are only allowing the 7th and 11th best averages to the fullback position this year. Val hasn’t played the Eagles for a few years now but had 71 on them last time he did, when with Cronulla in 2018. He may be a little sore as well but without Turbo, the matchup is too tasty to turn down.
Alex Johnston – Round 13 Score – DNP (Bye) – P2P Average – 80.54 – Captaincy Rate – %
AJ is shaping up as a really high-risk, high-reward play against the Knights this weekend. I’ve mentioned how fullbacks are the only position that have 80 PPG averages against some opposition teams, with three teams currently allowing over that mark on the year. However, after Maika Sivo’s destruction of the Knights edge defence, left wingers have joined them with a now 80.54 PPG rate. Over the last two months, the man on the left wing has scored:
- Corey Thompson – 104
- Connor Tracey – 114
- Brian To’o – 89
- Daniel Tupou – 102
- Bailey Simonsson – 79
- Tommy Talau – 74
- Murray Tualagi – 145
- Reuben Garrick – 54
- Maika Sivo – 124
That’s a nine game average of 98.33 PPG. That’s the reward part. The risk part is that AJ definitely has a low score in him. He has five games this season of 33 or less. Three of those came against the Roosters (13), Storm (21) and Panthers (22) so can be excused IMO. But the other two were against the Tigers (26) and Dogs (33). Other than that, AJ has one other score of 50 points and otherwise hasn’t scored below 73. He’s been a pretty consistent play all year and the Bunnies love playing on that left edge. So that and the Knights right edge deficiencies combine for a very nice AJ option.
** The obvious choice in this game is likely Cody Walker who could destroy that right edge defence as well. If A.J. goes huge it will likely be because Cody is feeding him tries. I will say though, the Knights are keeping left halves to the second worst rate of the position, at just 43.92 PPG. I don’t know why. Right halves are scoring over 70 PPG on the same team but for whatever reason, the wingers success is not matching up with the half’s stats.
Clint Gutherson – Round 13 Score – 121 – P2P Average – 68.62 – Captaincy Rate – %
The King is back. Or at least he was against the Knights last week when he dropped his fourth ton of the year and first since his original three-game burst back in rounds 6-8. And this weekend’s game against the Tigers presents the opportunity for a secondary run for Gutho. The Eels and Tigers met in the battle of the West in round 4. Parramatta took that game 36-22 but it was a lot closer than that. The score was 24-22 before the Eels, through Gutherson and former right winger Fergo, scored tries within the final three minutes of the game. That try helped Gutho to a score of 81.
The Tigers have somewhat turned their season around though. They’ve kept Dylan Edwards to 38 (sans 70% of the regular Penrith team) and Cody Ramsey to 30 in the last two weeks. But I mean, the sentence almost explains itself right? The Panthers and Dragons combined to score 24 points in those two games. The week before that, Reece Walsh had his 129 point breakout game against them in a 30-26 Tigers loss, which is more where I see the score line being with the Eels involved. And including that Walsh score, the Tigers have allowed four separate tons so far this year. Can Gutho make it five for him and them?
Nicho Hynes – Round 13 Score – 73 – P2P Average – 74.0 – Captaincy Rate – %
Melbourne come up against the Warriors for the second time this season, the first being the annual ANZAC day match in which Nicho first took over from Ryan Papenhuyzen and his purple patch began. Nicho jumped off with 98 points that day, then has since followed up with 69, 96, 182, 138, 156 and last weeks 73. The best part about last week’s score was that he was very quiet. For most of the game he appeared to be well-held and the Titans really took it to the understrength Storm. Then he still finished with a good score.
And I said before how the Warriors are just the 7th ranked side for fullbacks to score on but looking more closely into it, it’s not actually the whole story. That includes a 14 from Dylan Walker when he tore his hammy, plus low scores from Tex Hoy and CNK. Over the last month in particular (excluding last week’s bye obviously), fullbacks have scored 100, 65, 58 and 191 on the Warriors. It’s a solid matchup and hopefully Nicho can back up his 98 from the first time around and give us one more hurrah before the return of Papy possibly as early as next weekend.
Angus Crichton – Round 13 Score – DNP (Bye) – P2P Average – 53.23 – Captaincy Rate – %
This choice is based on the thought that Angus is going to be fired up at having to miss NSW big Origin win because of the suspension he was handed following the Broncos game. So his recent history is huge shock loss, suspension, missed club game, missed Origin. He should be back with a vengeance this weekend.
And he was coming into some really nice form too. He’d scored 87 in that loss and 119 against the Cowboys in Magic Round. And Saturday afternoon’s return game makes it the three Queensland clubs in a row. And that Titans side is without A.J. Brimson and Mo Fotuaika after Origin through rest and suspension respectively. They also have Tino a bit banged up and Fifita both backing up, if they do get up at all. It’s a weakened side that could get worse.
Meanwhile, although Angus hasn’t played the Titans much in his career, when he has he’s made the most of it. In his two meetings with them he had 80 points in 2019, and 166 back in 2017 as a Bunny. Hopefully for any managers out there, he’ll go close to another 100 this week.
Matt Dufty – Round 13 Score – 156 – P2P Average – 86.5 – Captaincy Rate – %
After spruiking Matt Dufty for weeks now but being scared off because of his recent injury troubles, the man came back against the Broncos to register the rounds top score. Well done to whoever got on board for that one. And even better if you had the VC or C on him. That would have seen you climbing up the rankings in a quick hurry. And he’s every chance to back it up again this week.
I said to start the piece that fullbacks against the Broncos and Raiders are the two highest P2P’s across the competition, but only fractionally behind them is the Bulldogs giving up 86.5 PPG. Here’s a quick round up of the past five superstar fullbacks to have faced them.
- Stephen Crichton – 86
- A.J. Brimson – 90
- Caleb Aekins – 87
- Matt Dufty – 111
- Clint Gutherson – 140
And to be fair, the previous five were equally impressive, with just the one bust. So it’s been a very long sustained run of huge scores against the Dogs and as you can see, one of those was Matt Dufty in round 9, just before he got hurt during Magic Round. He’s been in great form, almost as if to prove to the Dragons and Hook that they don’t know what they’re doing by letting him go.
With the limited options we have and the uncertainty surrounding the ones that we do, I’ve decided to forgo the avoids this week.
For me, I’ll likely be aiming to take the shot on an AJ or Cody VC, possibly even a Sam Walker VC if I get really ballsy (i.e. drunk) and back that up with Nicho Hynes on Sunday afternoon.
And one more reminder to check Stilesy’s mail both here and on twitter at @AStilesAuthor.
As always, you can ask me any follow-ups in the comments below, or even hit me up on twitter @dlake631, and hopefully I’ll be able to help some more. Good luck for the round ahead.