Well, that weekend certainly dampened our SuperCoach spirits. Both figuratively, as all our preseason research and consideration crashed and burnt just like some of our players (every single year it happens). And then literally, as the torrential rain across the eastern parts of the country made for some horrible handling conditions and generally lower scores. Five of the eight games were played in terrible conditions so I wouldn’t be worrying too much about a particularly low score here or there. If you’ve managed to sneak away with a 50+ captains score, then I think you’re doing pretty well to start off with. And if not, it could always have been worse. You could have always been one of the 11+% of coaches who straight captained Teddy for his 23 points. Unless you were, then I’m sorry.
Heading into round 2, we’ve now got a bit more of an idea of how teams will be looking to play and who we should be targeting with our Captains. In years gone by, we’d be throwing the C on a skill player against the Titans for instance, and this year….. well, we still will. But also, the Bulldogs first outing gave me some confidence in Parramatta this weekend. Shaun Lane anyone??
The other news is the shock return of another Captain-able player. In a panicked response to only beating the woeful Titans by 21 points, the Raiders have rushed back dangerous winger Jordan Rapana. The early return from injury coupled with a game against the Melbourne Storm doesn’t exactly scream pick me though. Wait and see how this one plays out.
Damien Cook – Previous Score – 55 – 2018 Points to Position – 13 – 3 Rd P2P – 16
This one’s easy. Reigning SuperCoach player of the year, playing in the first game of the weekend. Yes, please. Even though he only returned a score of 55 in round one, the score was still good for a 10th placed finish out of all hooker eligible players. Of the nine above him, five scored tries, one (Jazz Tevaga) is a second rower, another (Andrew McCullough) played in great conditions and a last (Cam Smith) unicorned to a better score. So, all things considered, Cook had a pretty decent night out. He played the entire 80 minutes, in one of those rain-soaked affairs and had 43 points through Base+Power stats plus the one Try Assist to Sam Burgess. Last season, Cook averaged another around 30 points per game in non-base stat scoring, almost double the 16 he had in the rain. With a return to normal conditions, I expect a return to normal scoring. And then there are his last three scores on the Dragons (68, 82 and 123).
Michael Morgan – Previous Score – 72 – 2018 Points to Position – 11 – 3 Rd P2P – 11
Michael Morgan was outstanding last weekend, but can he back it up in the Queensland Derby at Suncorp on Friday night? (Cue the Juzzy comments). Morgo scored 72 points in the northerners win but has averaged more than that against the Broncos since 2015. Over those last six games, he has scored 77, 80, 51, 92, 45 and 126. An incredible run of sustained form. Last week, the Broncos gave up a whopping 105 points to lead playmaker Cameron Munster, a player much like Morgo, as the Storm ran over the Broncos to open the NRL season. (Cue the Catfish comments). It’s sure to be another Queensland epic between the two good Sunshine State teams. Morgo will feature heavily once more.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 26 – 2018 Points to Position – 2 – 3 Rd P2P – 12
SJ had a shocker to start his second NRL era. As a Knights fan, it was a welcomed sight, but it has opened up questions about how he’ll adapt to the new team. But his chance at redemption comes against the perfect opponent. This is where I’ll regret not starting with SJ. I mentioned, “an incredible run of sustained form” just above here. But if that’s what Morgo has had, I’m not sure how you would class Johnson’s stats against Gold Coast. Hold onto your hats boys and girls. SJ’s last EIGHT games against the Titans go 65, 82, 97, 147, 65, 110, 66, 153. I’ve been on board for three of those top 4 games. It’s been glorious. If you’re one of the approximately 1900 people who have currently traded the man out, give yourself an uppercut.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – 63 – 2018 Points to Position – 5 – 3 Rd P2P – 4
The next two men both featured as Captain picks last week and gave us back respectable results in an unpredictable weekend. So. I’m rolling with them again. Fifi went full beast-mode on Friday afternoon. He played a mammoth 73 minutes against the Knights and produced a huge workload of 31 tackles and 16 hitups. His score could have been a lot higher too as 12 of those hitups were less than 8 metre runs. The Knights pack is greatly improved from last season, and you could argue that the Titans are too, but the four front rowers are the Raiders produced 40 total runs in week 1 and 24 of them were over 8 metres. In the pouring rain too. So Fifita could have a better day than he did a week ago and add to his previous games of 55, 74, 57, 103, 93, 66 and another 93.
Jai Arrow – Previous Score – 60 – 2018 Points to Position – 4 – 3 Rd P2P – 14
Don’t do something stupid like trade out Jai Arrow based on his round 1 minutes. Once for the ones up the back. Don’t trade out Jai Arrow. He had horrible conditions, an early shower and still knocked out a score of 60. Yes, he only played 55 minutes but do you remember what I’ve said over and over again about his games of 55+ mins last year? 80+ PPG is what. And he only played those few minutes due to injuries. I will admit here that the Knights forwards didn’t have the greatest afternoon against the Sharks, however, workhorse David Klemmer knocked out 69 points, 59 of which were straight base stats. That’s kind of what I would be expecting from Jai, with hopefully a few more offloads thrown in for luck. And then maybe he’ll return a score of 86 from 57 minutes, just like he had against Cronulla last year.
Shaun Lane – Previous Score – 73 – 2018 Points to Position – 7 – 3 Rd P2P – 16
Told you. Lane was extremely impressive in his Eels debut. He’s not a huge base stat guy, but he did have 45 and then added another 30 (almost) through his trademark attacking with a deft offload putting Michael Jennings over to score. He then went awful close to scoring as well, chasing down a Mitch Moses grubber that was just cleaned up by Waqa Blake. And now, as I mentioned earlier, Lane gets to run out against this year’s wooden spooners. The Warriors back rowers had scores of 49, 53, 62 and 67 against the Dogs in a 40-6 scoreline game. They would have spent the majority of their afternoon standing around watching goal kicking practice and still knocked up those scores. Lane is a better-attacking player than those four guys, and he hasn’t scored a try in over 1 NRL game, so he’s due.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 38 – 2018 Points to Position – 6 – 3 Rd P2P – 10
I’ve promoted two of my avoids last week into this risky category and they both play in the same game. First of all, my man-crush. Ponga had a quiet afternoon vs the Sharks for his 38 points. The whole game was lacking flair for the majority of it and if that’s Ponga’s floor in those types of outings I’ll be a very happy man. The Panthers though seem to be in shambles after their offseason from hell. Dylan Brown (49) and Mitch Moses (69) had a great time guiding last years spooners to their first positive points differential in about two years. If those boys can torch Penrith like that, I can’t wait to see what Ponga and co. produce on Saturday arvo. Wenin has already publicly stated that he’ll be running with Kaptain Ponga. Will you join him?
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – 25 – 2018 Points to Position – 5 – 3 Rd P2P – 6
The problem with these P2P rankings is that they’re based on last years teams and results. While they can give you an indication, coaching/players movements and adapting game plans provide dramatically changing results from one season to the next. Just ask Shaun Johnson if the Knights were easy to score on last weekend. Be that as it may, Cleary has made a habit of putting up big numbers against my guys. With 74, 78 and 109 in his last three, I’m a little bit nervous for a huge bounce-back game. As stated by other authors, Cleary was millimetres from doubling his score if Blake could have grounded a ball, so I wouldn’t worry about his 25 point game if you’re an owner. It would be a big risk to take with the state of the Panthers at the moment, but it could be a masterstroke. If not, prepare yourself for the flood of Cleary trades in a week’s time.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – 23 – 2018 Points to Position – 12 – 3 Rd P2P – 14
Ok, Teddy. I made a lot of moves late in the piece to get you in. A score of 23 isn’t good enough. I need a bounce-back week here. Which is exactly what I’m expecting to be honest. Remember in round 1 last year when Teddy stunk it up with 35 points and then followed it up with a 113? He could do something exactly the same against a hapless Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday night. Teddy’s last six games against the Silvertails has seen him produce scores of 113, 48, 137, 47, 157 and 60. So the question becomes not if he can bounce back, but when will he stop?
Gareth Widdop – Previous Score – 21 – 2018 Points to Position – 16 – 3 Rd P2P – 15
For the last two seasons, Widdop has spent multiple weeks as the highest scoring player in the competition. So, it’s a big surprise really that Mary would move him out of his favoured position to accommodate Corey Norman, who has also played at fullback in his career mind you. Widdop’s 21 point game was actually supported by eight points in goal kicks. It’s a very worrying sight, especially as he comes up against the hardest side for fullbacks to score on last year and the same team that held Teddy to his paltry score. Mary is apparently open to tinkering with the combinations over the coming weeks. But that’s more reason to avoid. We don’t know where he will be playing.
Josh Hodgson – Previous Score – 47 – 2018 Points to Position – 16 – 3 Rd P2P – 10
Hodgson was so close to being in my round one side and would have been if I could have rustled up the funds. He’s one of the better hookers in the game and has the very handy added bonus of playing the first bye weekend. But alas, I couldn’t afford him and had to settle for Jake Friend instead. Damn. The next thing going against Hodgson this week is his match up against the Melbourne Storm. It’s not really the death trap that it once was, but it’s still no easy feat. Macca had a 58 against the Storm in week 1. If they can turn around and lock up the Green Machine the same way they did the Bronco’s, it’s going to be a rough outing for everyone involved. Plus, if you’re captaining Hodgson, that means you can’t vice-captain Cook. Don’t do that.
Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 12 – 2018 Points to Position – 6 – 3 Rd P2P – 12
I’m not sure what’s going on down at Bondi, but something isn’t right. Maybe Gus’ shoulder is worse than anyone realised. Maybe the Chooks bought him simply so the Rabbits didn’t have him. Maybe, just MAYBE, Aubo is that damn good. Whatever the case, you absolutely cannot trust Crichton with the armband until he’s pumping out consistent scoring and minutes again. Even if he is a late call up to the starting side this weekend, we don’t know what sort of shenanigans Robbo will be getting up to. At least his price will soon be super juicy for those that didn’t start the year with him.
I managed to scrape my way to the magic 1k barrier, raising the bat with a 1,007 despite suffering through the adversity of Nathan Brown’s ripped tit. I mean, I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him too but it almost cost me a four-digit finish.
I ended up going with Jurbo for the Captaincy, and it served. With all the weather reports across the weekend, I tried to play it smart. I was on Jurbo when it started pouring in Leichhardt. I wanted to make the change to Arrow, but being at multiple kids birthday parties meant I missed the lockout. I was mad at first, then ok when Jurbo knocked up 61. Then relieved when I saw the rain at the Gold Coast. Then laughing after Arrow’s early shower on a score of 47 (ish). And then finally, mad again as I ended up losing out on 2 extra points after updates on Monday, which would have meant that I beat Wenin’s first up score. Moral of the story: don’t let social outings steal your focus.
This week, thanks to the omission of Bailey Simonsson, I’ve been “gifted” a VC opportunity. I’ll be throwing the blue on Damien Cook and will be absolutely delighted to watch him tear about the Dragons, kind of like he did in the Charity Shield. On the small chance that he doesn’t do so, I will be tossing coin between Shaun Lane and new recruit, Matt Moylan as a roll of the dice.
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.