We did it folks. It’s been a royally awful year but together, we’ve made it (almost) through to the end. But, as it has all season long, 2020 has one final kick in the beans for us. Seriously though, what the f*ck are those teams lists? They’re awful. We’ve been well and truly screwed for round 20 and so many of us won’t even be able to field a full squad.
But that’s where the captaincy loophole can work out for us. With a guaranteed donut, or maximum of only 17 players taking the field, it’s an automatic shot with your vice captain without the worry of working out if an AE will ruin the score for you. Because nobody likes those AE’s. Or maths for that matter.
So, for the last time this year, let’s take a good look at some captains options to bring you home.
Kalyn Ponga – Round 19 Score – 82 – 2020 Position Average – 50.0
Gone are the days where we can lock in anyone against the Titans. They are so much improved this year and in my humble opinion, Justin Holbrook deserves serious consideration in the coach of the year discussions. On the flip side, RIP to anyone who traded in, and captained, Tom Trbojevic against these boys. I did warn you last week he was a “long shot”, but jeez. That was next level bad. I know the narrative is to say that he got hurt again, but playing 62 minutes and still only posting 12 points (0.19 PPM) proves that he was definitively shut out. But, he had a complete nightmare game on return and it’s hard to see Ponga following suit.
He was great against the Dragons coming back from his own week off. He had 82 points including a try, two try assists and two linebreak assists. What is absolutely maddening about that game though is that Ponga was also slated to kick goals before Tex Hoy hurt himself in the lead up to the game and Mason Lino was recalled. Lino potted 28 points from goal kicks, which should / could have been KP’s. I’m writing a strongly worded email to the boys here and the DT to have these added to Ponga’s score. So, if you’ll all sign my petition, it would be greatly appreciated.
Back to this week, and here’s why I believe Ponga is still a good bet. Unlike Manly, the Knights still have something to play for this year. There’s a home final on the line. Newcastle is currently sitting in 6th on the ladder, but if they lose and the Bunnies jag a win in the following game, they drop to 7th. It can make a huge difference for week 1 of the finals. Ponga will need to play a key part to ensure the win, and will be looking to add to the scores of 90, 98, 83 and 54 he’s had against the Titans. I really like him to get the weekend started off the right way for us. But, the problem with running with Ponga as a VC is that it rules out any sort of play on Tedesco.
James Tedesco – Round 19 Score – DNP (rest) – 2020 Position Average – 56.4
Our captain article wouldn’t be complete without Supercoaches 2020 MVP. And realistically, Teddy is a decent straight captain play against the Rabbitohs on Friday night and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone doing so. But, he does come with his own challenges. Mainly in the form of the South Sydney Rabbitohs who have been red-hot over the past few weeks. In saying that, the best thing they’ve done over that time is lose to the Dogs last week to help them climb off the bottom of the ladder. 94% of the NRL fanbases salute you boys.
Teddy has had his ups and downs in these Sydney derbies. He’s played in five of them since joining the tri-colours, having scored 60, 57, 23 and 78 over the past two years, before dropping a 103 on them in round 3 this year. Also, in his final two Tigers years, he played them four times for 59, 126, 71 and 57. And this year, Souths have been pretty good against fullbacks but they can give up a big score to the top guys and top teams. It was only three weeks back when Ryan Papenhuyzen scored 105 on them.
Like Newcastle, the Roosters still have the fate of their post-season resting of the outcome of this game. A win and they play the Storm in week 1. A loss and it’s the Panthers. It’s really a much of a muchness in the grand scheme of things but you’d have to assume they’re playing for the win based on the team list that’s been named. And that means a locked-in and dangerous Teddy.
Payne Haas – Round 19 Score – DNP (rest) – 2020 Position Average – 64.1
Remember when the Broncos v Cowboys matches were the highlight of the NRL season? Every single time these teams faced off it would be decided by a field goal. Those were the good old days. However, both teams are a shell of their former selves and there’s little to look forward to on Thursday night. One thing though is the battle between premier big men Payne Haas and Jason Taumalolo. Both of these monsters are classic lock in captains but playing in game 1 means you’ll be missing out on a lot of other potential huge scorers and, on a week like this, why waste a free hit?
That’s where Haas becomes a VC option, albeit a “long shot”. He’s just about guaranteed to knock out a score in the 70-80 point range. And any sort of attacking stat he adds can push him into triple figures, something he did three times last season but has yet to achieve this year. So, he’s due. Although, he did have a 97 against Canberra.
The good news is that the Cowboys give up a league-leading 64 PPG to opposing props this year, most of which aren’t nearly the same calibre of player that Payne Haas is. He had 74 points on them in round 1 of the season, as well as 79 against them last year. Two very solid performances to build off.
Cam McInnes – Round 19 Score – 47 – 2020 Position Average – 44.2
I normally wouldn’t go anywhere near a guy playing against the Storm but McInnes intrigues me for two reasons. The first is that he’s a no nonsense workhorse. The second is that the Storm have apparently picked up a QCup team while staying on the Sunshine Coast and are now playing them this week.
Cam had a rough weekend against the Knights in round 19, but there weren’t many who did play well. And there wasn’t much of a chance for him to get into the game. Now with the suspension of Ben Hunt, McInnes reclaims his number 9 jersey. Here’s a little bit of an exert from last week when I had written about him:
Cam McInnes has been a superstar all season, but the move into lock has been a bit of a wash. It’s not that he’s at all bad there but he’s averaged 72.6 at lock vs 79 from hooker.
He then went on to score 48 from lock against the Knights to prove my point. So it’s good he’s been moved back even though the Storm only let hookers score 44 PPG. In the last few years, McInnes has scores of 76, 62, 72 and 68 on them too. And that’s at full strength. I’m not relying on any of those usual stats with the team that’s going to be running out on Sunday evening. He could go very large.
Ryan Matterson – Round 19 Score – 67 – 2020 Position Average – 51.4
We can be fairly certain that Matterson is going to play since the Eels need to win this game to guarantee a top four finish. As much as the Tigers faithful don’t like it because they’re in a very real danger of missing out on their coveted 9th placed finish. The Eels currently sit in 4th, one game ahead of the Raiders but with a worse points differential. If Canberra beat the Shaun Johnson-less Sharks, they would briefly jump ahead of Parramatta into the top four. The real spanner in the works of this is that Canberra have dropped just about everyone for their final game and they play the game directly ahead of the Eels. Meaning if they lose, the Eels can’t drop out of 4th. However, they can still climb up to 3rd but that would rely on a Roosters loss, who also play ahead of them. Point is, the Eels will know the fate of their season before kickoff of their game. So keep an eye out for any team list shenanigans leading into the game.
For Matto, this is a huge grudge match. Not only did he spurn this club after just one season there in 2019, but at their first meeting this season the Tigers came out to target their former teammate. And they did. My trade in that week, Matto lasted 15 minutes before being blasted into oblivion by Russell Packer. He played no further part of the game, finishing on 8 points. That one sucked, but hey. 2020, right?
Previous to that, Matto had a series of modest scores on the Tigers being 57, 48, 58 and 64. By no means a lock in captain but he’s entered into premium territory and should finish his big season with another big game.
Angus Crichton – Round 19 Score – 63 – 2020 Position Average – 61.3
This is an intriguing naming. We’ve only ever seen Gussy play lock once (from what I can recall) which was round 18 against the Knights when he was named on the bench but brought up to lock for kickoff. He scored 84 that day from 69 minutes, and it could mean very big numbers for the man again in the last game of the year. He’s a devastating runner on his day and we’ve seen him put up some huge numbers out wide. Now he’ll have extra opportunities to get his hands on the ball being in the middle all game. Not that he’ll see 80 minutes. He only played 60 on the left last week against the Sharks.
Crichton is still pushing out a PPM of 1.09 across the season with some of his better rates coming from games with reduced minutes. So even if he gets 65-70 minutes, he’s looking at a score in range of 78-85 points for the game, with the potential for more against his former employers. Since leaving, Crichton is getting better with each matchup. He had 12 in round 1 last season, playing off the bench after an interrupted off-season. Later that year he scored 56 on them. Had 40 against them in the first week of the 2019 finals, then met them in round 3 this year with a 69 point game. His stocks are rising.
Ryan Papenhuyzen – Round 19 Score – DNP (inj) – 2020 Position Average – 60.1
Lil’ Papy was on a roll leading into his two week break thanks to a troublesome achilles. Smart by the Storm for giving the kid a rest. You don’t want that to go on you. It could derail your entire finals. Just ask the Sharkies. Seriously though, thoughts are with Shaun Johnson for a speedy recovery. He doesn’t deserve to go out this way.
Back to Papenhuyzen though, he remains a fantastic option simply because of volume. Have you seen their outs list? Check out Wenin’s Teams Analysis for the run down and you’ll see he’s the only one left playing there. One of the very first things I did this week after seeing the team lists was to check who was playing against the Raiders and the Storm for some boom-type players. But it turns out it’s the Sharks and Dragons so that helps no one*.
Fact is though, Papy was banging out huge scores pre-injury including two tons in his last two games. And he even kicked goals in the Storm’s round 14 game when Smith wasn’t there. So there’s a chance he gets that again this week. Papy has only played the Dragons once, in round 16 last season, scoring 24 points in 22 minutes off the bench. He’ll be better than that though.
*When I say no one, that’s not definitive. I had considered Zac Lomax after his huge 126 point outing last weekend. However, that game followed an 80 minute performance where he put 10 points up against the Raiders, but a full-strength Raiders I might add. He’s never played the Storm so there’s no past stats to go on and the Storm allow just 32.6 PPG to right centres, so it’s no sure bet but it’s the opposition that makes it tempting.
Daly Cherry-Evans – Round 19 Score – 86 – 2020 Position Average – 59.6
We all love and appreciate the Warriors this year more than any other, but unfortunately their run has finally come to a very sad end. Not only falling just short of a finals birth, captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has fallen to injury in the second last round of the year. It’s not the way things should have ended but it has and now DCE gets to work his magic on a depleted side who he’s always had success against. DCE’s scores on the Kiwi’s over the past few seasons have been 31, 95, 59, 50, 156, 29 and then a 75 when these sides met in round 13.
He’s been pretty outstanding anyway this year and is on a 5RA of 79.8 points and two tons in his past three games. The added bonus of goal kicking duties has definitely helped his cause, but we can’t rely on that this week with Reuben Garrick back in the side. Still, he’s been instrumental in steering his team around the park and setting up tries at will, plus jagging a few of his own along the way. If that continues, DCE is just the sort of pod play to give you a bump heading towards Mad Monday.
Nathan Cleary – Round 19 Score – 72 – 2020 Position Average – 62.7
Cleary features as a “long shot” purely because I’m not entirely convinced that he doesn’t get rested on Saturday afternoon. From all reports, the Panthers players all want to play and there’s talk of continuity for the team leading into the finals campaign, but the minor premiership has been wrapped up, and I see you there on the bench Matt Burton.
But if he does, he (and Luai) could go huge against a Dogs side you love giving up points all across the park. Let’s not spend too much time banging on about a guy who’s 72 points last week were his lowest score of the past two months, hey? Just know he’s going to be amazing, if he plays.
As I do every year in the final round of the season, I don’t have any avoids for you this week. We have neither the trades nor the depth to be worrying about who not to be putting the captaincy on. With the exception of those running for the top gig or in a H2H final, everyone else can take it very easy and enjoy the final weekend of Supercoach. And I say, go crazy with it.
I went with my heart last week in captaining Ponga over Munster and it worked out for me. For the final time in 2020, I’m going to follow my heart again and VC Ponga over Tedesco on Friday night. It’s a big play but sitting at a rank of 26k heading into the last game of the year, I really don’t have anything to lose. If that doesn’t go according to plan, I’ve got a pretty handy backup in Cleary (if he plays) or maybe I’ll even bring in DCE if I’m feeling crazy.
As much as this year has sucked for me on the Supercoach front, I’ve still had a lot of fun writing this for you guys. The interactions on here and in the Twitterverse are always enjoyable. Thank you all for a great and huge season and I’m looking forward to being back next year. Look for us to bring you some exciting content leading into the 2021 season.
And 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.