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It’s been a really long week in rugaleeg. Starting last TLT with Matto (expectedly) missing, then Thursday seeing Cleary and Papenhuyzen pulled out of team lists, and finally the wicked injury toll across the eight games that saw scores drop dramatically from the first two weeks. As JT mentioned in his weekly wrap, there wouldn’t have been a single SuperCoach playing who got away without being affected in one way or another.
But those were last week’s problems. We’ve probably all used our max trades to fix any injury issues we have suffered and are looking ahead to the Easter weekend. And my oh my, what a Thursday/Friday combination of games we have. It’s shaping up to be a very Good Friday indeed.
Disclaimer: The following is not a science by any means. Nothing written below is gospel. The final decision is up to you.
PSA: Before considering any potential VC selections, be aware that a fullback VC rules out a Teddy loop.
I had to get away from the usual “Best, Next, Long Shot” format for this week Vice Captaincy options. Considering the games we have available to us in the three early slots, there are just way too many options to just pick three, and none that really class as a long shot. I’ll do my best to keep it brief though.
Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles, 7:05pm Thursday, Lottoland
See what I mean? You could legitimately choose three VC options from this game alone, let alone the two that follow on Friday.
The Panthers will turn up for this game with all of Cleary (95.5 PPG / 33.0 Points to Position (P2P)), Luai (73 PPG / 70.7 P2P), To’o (65.3 PPG / 62.7 P2P), Kikau (75.3 PPG / 71.3 P2P), Crichton (45.7 PPG / 102.0 P2P), and Capewell (66.3 PPG / 50.0 P2P) as legitimate vice-captaincy options, possibly even straight-out captains.
Cleary is obviously the standout name here, but is coming coming from a concussion stint. These protocols are there to ensure sufferers are fully cleared and healthy before making a return, so if Cleary is out there, I have no doubt he’ll be at his best. And I really hope he is. He scored 138 on Manly last season in a 30 point drubbing. His previous scores on the Eagles are 97, 12, 64, 88, 44 and 105. The 12 pointer there was a really bad game for Cleary in 2018, in which he was also sin-binned. But otherwise, it’s all positive.
If you were feeling really brave, you could even take a stab with Charlie Staines (28 PPG / 53.0 P2P) who broke his duck last weekend. And we saw the Chooks send a lot of traffic down that edge in round 1, leading to a triple from Morris.
The only real options for the Eagles are DCE (51.3 PPG/ 36.3 P2P) and Jake Trbojevic (58.7 PPG/ 55.7 P2P). Maybe Josh Schuster (68 PPG/ 38.7 P2P). But you couldn’t, could you?
Canterbury Bulldogs vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, 3:05pm Friday, Stadium Australia
And then there’s the Bunnies coming up against the Dogs, who just had the 2020 Spooners beat them 28 to zip. It’s doesn’t get much worse than that.
For Souths, you’ve got Walker (78 PPG / 70.0 P2P), Latrell (84 PPG / .7 P2P), Johnston (65.3 PPG / .7 P2P), Murray (57.3 PPG / .3 P2P), and even potentially Cook (61.3 PPG / .0 P2P), although he’ll also feature a bit later. Plus maybe even Arrow (63 PPG / 75.0 P2P) if he gets the time off the bench.
It’s the left-side attack that the Bunnies are so well-known for. Cody combining with a sweeping Latrell and AJ hugging the sideline have caused opposition nothing but headaches this year. In fact, that combo terrorised the Roosters just last weekend.
All eyes are on Cody Walker this week though. The left playmaker facing these Dogs so far this season has been sensational. Connor Watson scored 53 in 52 minutes filling in for the injured Kurt Mann, Jarome Luai (94) went close to a ton in round 2, and even Anthony Milford (63) fared quite well…..for him.
There’s also some excitement for Latrell Mitchell, and rightly so. Issako just scored 114 from fullback last weekend, although the two previous fullbacks, Tex Hoy and Dylan Edwards, had just 81 combined.
For the Dogs……I dunno… Adam Elliott (72.7 PPG / 54.7 P2P)? Nah, just stick to Souths.
Melbourne Storm vs Brisbane Broncos, 7:05pm Friday, AAMI Park
The Storm have less options by number, but not by quality. Papenhuyzen (98.5 PPG / 43.0 P2P) and Munster (72 PPG / 41.7 P2P) are the headliners, with Cheese (56.0 PPG / 68.3 P2P) also popular. And then there’s the boom-or-bust Fox (38 PPG / 49.7 P2P).
As a Lil’ Papy manager, I’m super excited for the Friday night matchup. But for whatever reason, fullbacks haven’t been great against the Broncos this year. I can understand Corey Allan’s (36) score considering the score line, and Gutho (75) was pretty solid with most of that coming in the second half. But 18 points for AJ Brimson? That’s stumped me. Papy has two scores against the Broncos in his career of 122 and 96. All aboard!
Left halves have also been struggling a little bit, but that’s more for the personnel than the defence they’ve faced. Moses (55) in his first game after switching sides, and Ash Taylor (38) were sub-par, while Averillo (32) was so bad he ended up getting dropped. Munster is a touch better than those three though and has scores of 77, 94, 105, 75 and 71 over the last three seasons. Not to mention the finals last season….. Lol.
But unlike the first two games, this bottom-feeder team has a bit of SuperCoach relevance. Haas is back (46.8 P2P) but is in just 2% of teams due to missing the first three rounds. TPJ (87 PPG / 46.8 P2P) would have been an interesting proposition prior to his demotion to the bench. Riki (58.3 PPG / 58.0 P2P) is also prominent in teams. Melbourne are traditionally a very stingy SuperCoach sides, but have allowed Capewell (95) and Lane (57) to score pretty well on the right flank. However, Su’A (22 in 37 mins) was the third man to face them.
Otherwise, it’s only cheapies (Niu, Isaako, Mead) or the irrelevant (Milford).
Angus Crichton – Round 3 Score – 59 – 2020 Position Average – 56.10
Back to regular programming now, and Angus is piquing my interest as a safety net skipper.
He didn’t play the Warriors last season, but in the few years prior had scores of 101, 94, 69 and 63. He’s always played well against them. Meanwhile, our Kiwi brothers have had to face some decent backrowers already this year. Round 1 saw Dave Fifita, fresh out of hospital, score 60 in 71 minutes. Round 2 was 85 points for Mitch Barnett and then Elliott Whitehead had 59 last week.
Last week was a bit of a down game for Gus and the Chooks, and he still almost scored 60. The Warriors, for all the love the deservedly get, aren’t at the same level as the Bunnies but they aren’t easy-beats either. And the new Bondi spine leaves us with some questions heading into the weekend. But one thing that isn’t up for debate is how hard Crichton will go about it.
David Fifita – Round 3 Score – 112 – 2020 Position Average – 55.80
Speaking of David Fifita (a couple of times now), the Maroons enforcer has taken his game to another level on the Gold Coast. As mentioned, 60 points in 71 minutes after a stint in hospital, followed by a 105 point / 65 minutes HIA affected game. And then last weekend’s 112 masterpiece as my captain. He helped me to my season high score and a much needed jump in the overall standings.
If it wasn’t for him going from the Broncos / Cowboys double to a…. let’s say slightly tougher matchup with the Raiders, then he’d likely still claim top spot in this weeks article. In saying that, he’s never had a huge problem with Canberra, scoring 80 and 66 in his two proper games against them (he also scored 35 on them in 46 minutes, r16 of 2018 in the #17 jersey). And the left side second rowers to play Canberra so far have been Luciano Leilua (63), Wade Graham (60), and Eliesa Katoa (50 in 58 mins). They’re not the best SuperCoach options but have scored pretty well anyway. So, a team like the Titans with Fifita on that edge strikes me as another great play.
Tyson Frizell – Round 3 Score – 81 – 2020 Position Average – 53.95
It’s a Grudge Match. I’ve had this one lined up since preseason since Frizell gets his first run at his former team. I’ll be dropping a few extra dollars on an anytime try scorer bet too.
Being his first game against the Dragons, I obviously can’t give you any stats for past scores he’s had on them. They don’t exist. I mean, I could go back to 2011-12 when he was a young pup at Cronulla, but (a) they wouldn’t be relevant, and (b) he never played St George anyway.
I can tell you that right side second rowers have scored just 44 PPG against the Dragons, but they were Briton Nikora, Mitchell Dunn and Jack Gosiewksi. So again, not completely relevant.
And I mentioned it in the preseason a number of times; the Knights are using Frizell as an attacking weapon. To date, 2020 was his best SuperCoach season and yet, of his 20 games, he only scored above 65 on six occasions. Since the move, he’s got scores of 78, 66 and 81. Then there’s that little bit extra a player gets facing their old club for the first time that isn’t something that can be measured, but it is there. Frizell will be extra motivated to show the Dragons just what they shouldn’t have let get away.
Mitchell Barnett – Round 3 Score – 77 – 2020 Position Average – 58.40
Barnett has been a revelation this year even being moved to an edge. The worry was that he would miss out on his standard base stat workrate, but he’s more than made up for it with extra attacking stats and goal kicking. He has a 3RA of 89 points to start the year, 11 PPG of which has come from the kicking tee. He just scored 77 points against Wests despite shooting 0/2 before giving up the job to Tex Hoy.
However, that’s the worry this week. The reason Barnett gave it up was because of “cramping” in his calf, which actually turned out to be a calf strain. He’s had scans and been cleared of anything serious. Newcastle Herald journalist and Knights insider Barry Toohey reported that he’s spoken to Barney who wants to play, but he may no longer be kicking.
Going back to the last few years, Barnett has scores of 64, 81, 38, 36, 46, 36, 62, 90 and 94, but as I mentioned, those were in different roles. Barnett is a different player this year, he’s been getting way more involved in the gritty work even out wide. He’s averaging 60 base and power points each game, a nice floor to build a big score. Add in his attacking upside, and looking at how Wade Graham (57), Coen Hess (55) and Josh Schuster (90) fared at left 2RF against St George, I’m still confident of a strong score even without the kicking.
Clint Gutherson – Round 3 Score – 87 – 2020 Position Average – 62.45
This one is predicated on Mitch Moses being a withdrawal due to the concussion protocols, in which case, Gutho becomes the Eels goal kicker against a team who has allowed 90 points to be scored against them in the opening three weeks. For the goal kickers specifically, 14.7 PPG have been added to scores from that stat alone.
On top of that, the Tigers have allowed scores of 48 to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 111 for James Tedesco, and craziest of all, 103 to Tex Hoy. A 3RA of 87.3. That’s bound to happen when your defence is giving up so many points, and for the Eels, Gutho is so heavily involved in everything they do. This man ran over 10km in last weekend’s game. He’s everywhere. I get tired having to drive that far to the shop and back.
Recent scores Clint has against the Tigers have been 57, 77, 55, 88, 17, 71 and 100. The 17 is slightly concerning as it was still in 80 minutes but I can’t see that happening again this week. Sorry Tigers fans.
Zac Lomax – Round 3 Score – 90 – 2020 Position Average – 55.30
I’m not entirely excited by this one. They’re playing my team after all, but the Knights weakest point is their outside backs. And Lomax doesn’t have to worry about the Bradman Best matchup which swings things drastically in his favour.
Lomax had his breakout season in 2020, and he scored three tons across the year, none were bigger than the 126 points he put on the Knights at the back end of the year. And for those thinking that the Knights will win this game, that score came in a 42-18 Knights win too. He scored a double that day, and now this week he’ll be running at Enari Tuala and Hymel Hunt most likely.
Damien Cook – Round 3 Score – 46 – 2020 Position Average – 59.00
Amongst all the hype with the Bunnies and this weekend’s matchup, I just can’t get excited about Damien Cook. He was a big part of my plans for the majority of the preseason, but concerns about how his role in the team with a healthy Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker caused me to shuffle him out, and I’m glad I did. Those concerns have proven valid. Cody and Trell are running the show, reducing Cook to little more than a dummy half distributor.
He does have a ton this year, when the Bunnies towelled up Manly. And I’m also aware that his two bad games have come against the Storm and Roosters, but Souths dominated in the latter game and Cook still wasn’t involved. Besides, those tougher opponents never used to hurt him. He has always risen to the occasion in the bigger games.
I’m not saying he can’t go big this week. I’m just saying I wouldn’t rely on him doing so and waste either captaincy role.
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui – Round 3 Score – 61 – 2020 Position Average – 67.65
Another with a new role, big Tino has been shifted into the prop rotation at the Titans. It’s fitting seeing how most of us are running with him in our front row anyway, but it’s not what we want from a SuperCoach point of view. Where is that barn-storming, tackle-breaking, try-scoring forward we saw at the Storm and in preseason? Has the speed of the game this year become too much for the kid? Or is David Fifita just stealing all the glory?
To be fair, he did have his season high in that role last week, but it was just 61 points. I’ll take that from a somewhat cut-priced starter, but not in a higher role for my squad.
Tino scored 54 on the Raiders in round 9 last year. He was starting edge forward that day and played the full 80. In two other games against them he’s scored 11 (in 10 mins off the bench) and 19 (in 21 mins off the bench).
Tohu Harris – Round 3 Score – 87 – 2020 Position Average – 61.00
I’m going out on a limb here and suggesting that this is the week Tohu let’s his managers down. He’s been awesome all season long. Neither role nor rotation nor game flow has slowed him down. But he faces a big test this week against the Chooks.
They’re not the same team they were a week ago. Injuries have made sure of that. But the pack is still a strong one. Featuring an all-representative engine room of Isaac Liu, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Jared Warea-Hargreaves, Sitili Tupouniua, Angus Crichton, plus the returning Victor Radley, the Roosters big boys will be aiming up to lay a foundation for the new recruits to work from.
In all that, and coming off a big loss, I think Sydney will be all in this game from the get-go and Tohu has his hands full. Although, he did have 76 points on them last year. Maybe I’m expecting too much.
This is a story about an ordinary man…
When he was made, they found something wrong with him…
And threw him away like a piece of rubbish into an old dark storeroom…
Then, from inner Sydney, a wealthy man, brought him to life with his magic sombrero!
He took him to Bondi Beach where the SuperCoach Gods gave him special powers…
That man became…..
Final Thoughts & The People’s Team Captain
It’s truly shaping up to be a huge captains week. There are so many potentially great matchups that it’s actually making it difficult to narrow it down to just two people. My favourites this week are Cody and Papy for big games, followed by Cleary and Teddy, but really, it could go any way.
As for myself, I’ll more than likely run with Cody as my VC in the early Friday game. Remember, that one kicks off mid-afternoon on Friday because of the public holiday. Set your teams early so as to not be caught out. My plan is to not have to use the captaincy but if I do, I might go back to ol’ reliable.
Now with that analysis over, it’s time for you to have your say on who should be the VC and C in Round 3 for the people’s team.
Live results below.
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.