I’ll just say it straight up. I was wrong about the Bunnies last week. Wow, what a game. They were phenomenal, with none better than our old mate Captain Cook. But before anyone jumps down my throat for not suggesting him this week, or says something along the lines of “Captaining Cook every week for the rest of the year”, I’d just like to say that yes, I do think he’s a great option every week. He’s proven that across the season and has been as close to a lock in captain that we’ve had since the peak CP13 days. But I’m not here to point out the obvious. I’m here to look into some different options for round 22.
But before I do, we’ve been gifted another great deal from the team at PlayOn just for NRL SuperCoach Talk – it’s a private NRL contest for Thursday night – a $5 Double Up. Finish above half the field and double your money. On top of the cash, 1st place will receive a free $20 entry into the $2,500 Premier League game on Saturday. If you’re looking for the contest, you won’t find it in the lobby as it’s hidden. The exclusive link is here.
Sidenote – Congratulations to Billy Slater on a wonderful NRL and Supercoach career after he announced his retirement from football this week. Honestly, I can’t stand the bloke, but he’s had a remarkable run and given us plenty of highlights throughout the years. We’re losing another legend.
Johnathan Thurston – Previous Score – 69 – 2018 Points to Position – 10 – 3 Rd P2P – 9
The great man has shown a bit of his old self in the last few games. It’s been bittersweet. It’s good to watch but also a bit disappointing as I wanted to bring him back for a swansong, and now may be unable to afford him. But nevertheless, his 3RA has jumped up to 72 with the Bronco’s coming into town for (hopefully) another classic between the 2 clubs. JT has pretty much made the bigger brothers his bitch over the past few seasons. He’s averaged 81.6 against them from his last 8 games, including a 110 when these sides met in round 2. He’s also had another 110 as equal high score and a 53 as his lowest since 2014. There is no better rivalry in the NRL than the one that currently exists between these clubs and sadly, we’ll see the end of that era on Thursday night. A moment of silence as a show of respect please.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 45 – 2018 Points to Position – 5 – 3 Rd P2P – 7
Let’s try this again, SJ. Say it with me. You are a premium. You are the top of the halfback class. You are a bad-ass mutha, who don’t take no crap off of nobody. The 3 and 5RA’s in the 40’s aren’t going to cut it. But fortunately (and not so much for me), Newcastle are the perfect chance for redemption. SJ goes beast mode against my boys with his last 7 games returning scores of 117, 69, 86, 75, 57, 88 and 92. But, I mean, the Knights aren’t that easy to score on from halfback right? Hahahaha. Ah my sweet innocent child. Yes, Newcastle rank 7th in P2P over the last 3 games, but the man with the #7 on his back in those three games has scored 111, 99 and 43. That, and they’ve given up 23 ppg to the Titans, Cowboys and Tigers. Defence is not our strong point.
Latrell Mitchell – Previous Score – 75 – 2018 Points to Position – 7 – 3 Rd P2P – 3
As much as Damien Cook is the best player in the NRL this year (Supercoach wise), Latrell is the current house-leader on form. He’s sporting a relatively healthy 105.7 3RA and the 75 he had last week was the lowest of the three. Souths are the top side in the NRL after that clinic against the Storm last week, but even in that game the Fox scored a ton down the left side attack for Melbourne while Curtis Scott chipped in with 59. The Bunnies have shown some vulnerability on that side of the field. And even though they are winning, they have still been giving up just over 20 points per game over the last 3 weeks. In any event, this game will be fun to watch.
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – 88 – 2018 Points to Position – 1 – 3 Rd P2P – 4
This is a juicy match up. Cleary has a 3RA of 88 since regaining the kicking duties and is playing the Titans, who give up points. A lot of them. They only rank 4th with halfbacks P2P in recent weeks thanks to Moses (48), SJ (65) and Pearce (52) not setting the world on fire, but are still number 1 by a wide margin across the entire season. They are giving up around 0.7 PPM to halfbacks on the year. It’s crazy that the 5th placed Panthers have sacked their coach so close to finals, but as Surge mentioned in his article, teams tend to respond to a coaching change for some reason. Cleary has had 74 and 41 in his 2 games vs Gold Coast but I feel like a new PB is just around the corner.
Rhyse Martin – Previous Score – 87 – 2018 Points to Position – 4 – 3 Rd P2P – 5
This is starting to get repetitive. Martin balled out once more on his way to 87 points and an unlikely win against the Broncos. From all reports (since I didn’t watch it), he could have had more as a last touch could/should have been a TS and a linebreak and try scoring opportunity were taken away by a dodgy forward pass call. He’s just been crazy consistent with 3 and 5RA’s of 73 and 89 respectively and a low of 53 in that time. If that doesn’t entice you, Gallen (91) and Graham (97) destroyed Manly last week in a loss, Kikau (69) and Yeo (81) had very solid scores in round 20, and Cordner (92) and Radley (78) smacked them around in round 19. It’s all aboard the G2 to Tons-ville.
Paul Gallen – Previous Score – 91 – 2018 Points to Position – 16 – 3 Rd P2P – 12
I just mentioned Gallen in the rundown above but the man himself features this week. He has gradually worked his way back to full fitness after battling some sort of virus for a week or two, which has seen his scores go from 22 to 55, 68 and then 91 last week in a vintage Gal performance. And he doesn’t mind a game against the Storm either. Before this year (when he had 50 in round 4), Gallen had scored 71, 77, 93, 91, 75 and 75 on them since 2014. They don’t give up a lot of point traditionally, but we saw what the Rabbits did last week when Burgess (93) and Crichton both got through a mountain of work. With Fifi iffy, and his trusty 2R sidekick Graham back, Gal could have a very big night.
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Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 73 – 2018 Points to Position – 4 – 3 Rd P2P – 7
Obviously vice-captaining Latrell means you can’t captain Angus, and vice-versa, but one is a big score candidate and the other is as solid as they come. Homer has a 3 and 5RA of around 70 and is always heavily involved. He had 86 against the Roosters in round 6 this season, and 82 and 39 from last year. And surprisingly, Sydney concede points to second rowers. Hands up if you had Lolo on the bench last week for is 112. (Guilty). Hess also had 76, Sims had 101 the week before with Frizell on 63. In fact, the Chooks have allowed 6 tries to second rowers over the last 3 weeks. That is insane. Meanwhile, Crichton has scored twice this year and hasn’t crossed the stripe since round 10 against the Dragons. His other try? Round 6 vs Sydney.
Tyrone Peachey – Previous Score – 112 – 2018 Points to Position – 1 – 3 Rd P2P – 8
Another what-if in my season of woe. Choosing Nofo over Peachey 2 weeks ago because he “was just keeping the spot warm until DWZ was fit”. Then missing the Bronco’s lockout last week where I would have traded Isaako to Peachey and couldn’t decide who else to switch out. The Peach has dominated from fullback and made the spot his own. He’ll be hard to unseat from there if he keeps up form, especially playing against the Titans who just gave up 95 points to Gutho last game. But with a new coach now, who knows what the Panthers will end up doing with their side. He is named there again which is a good start. And he’s had scores of 71 (this year), 34, 59, 68, 39, 33, 118 and 30 on the Coasters previously.
Jordan Rapana – Previous Score – 96 – 2018 Points to Position – 10 – 3 Rd P2P – 13
See what happens when you stay out of the sinbin mate? A big 96 points as Leipana fired again. And I am LOVING Rapana this week too. He has played the Tigers 5 times in his career for scores of 136, 82, 163, 78 and 33. They are easily his favourite team to play against. JR missed their earlier encounter this season, but Leilua had an 80+ score so it’s stands to reason that Rapana could have too. The biggest risk here is that Kerrod Holland (of all people), with his 111, is the only CTW to score 40 or above against the Tigers since Lafai had a 48 in round 18. It has been a very impressive points drought from the Tigers defence. But I’m backing that to break this week. The Raiders have nothing to play for and are finally playing some free football. Leipana to explode again.
Ryan Matterson – Previous Score – 31 – 2018 Points to Position – 16 – 3 Rd P2P – 16
Being named back at 5/8 is bad news for Ryan Matterson. Playing the position against the Bunnies is worse. Matto had just 31 last weekend in the Chooks big win over the wooden spoon contending Cowboys. Souths are on the other end of the table though and have kept Munster (23), Norman (30), Benji (20), Lewis (36) and TMM (42) to horrible scores. I’m not sure anyone would have taken the risk on him as a C or VC, but just in case you were looking for the ultimate POD, this isn’t it.
Gareth Widdop – Previous Score – 54 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 12
Widdop might just be playing against the Eels, but they have steadied the ship lately and aren’t so easy to score on. Brimson (50), Cody Walker (40) and Lachlan Lewis (21) have had a hard time putting points on the board against Parra from the 5/8 spot. Connor Watson has the highest score on them in the last 5 weeks which was just a 68. And the fifth guy to play them in that period was Widdop, who had just 43 in round 16. Granted that was following the Denver test but it’s not all that much better than what he has been scoring lately, and what he’s had on the Eels in the past.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – 36 – 2018 Points to Position – 16 – 3 Rd P2P – 15
It might seem obvious since he’s playing Melbourne, or reactionary since he scored just 36 last weekend, but I don’t like Fifi this week because of his concussion. I’ve said it plenty of times before, but these things take time to recover from. Even if he passes all the appropriate protocols, there’s a very real chance he performs less than peak. We’ve seen it happen time and time again. Guy gets a big head knock and takes a couple weeks to return to decent scores. I don’t know the science behind it. I’m not a Dr (I just play one on TV). Maybe NRLPhysio can help with that. But also, he’s playing Melbourne and scored just 36 last week.
I bounced a bit this week. A big 1,277 saw me jump a few hundred places. But I still lost my H2H. That’s ok though. It was to some captain nobody who didn’t make the finals cut.
In an effort to keep jumping spots I’ll be going the riskier options again this week. I love Crichton but he won’t explode too much. I’m looking at a SJ and Cleary combo at the moment. Maybe Rapana if I’m drunk enough in the moment. We shall see.
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.