Players of Interest – Elliot Whitehead

Elliott Whitehead’s (2RF/CTW, $457.7k) real life versatility has finally been rewarded in 2019 with the ‘Holy Grail’ 2RF/CTW positional eligibility that can form the backbone of any SuperCoach team. But is this 80-minute edge player the no-brainer that he seems on the surface?

Recent Statistics

2018: Games played (24), average (49), minutes per game (80), PPM (0.61)

2017: Games played (23), average (54), minutes per game (79), PPM (0.68)

Check out our other pre-season content below: 

2019 Players of Interest: Read all of these here

2019 SuperCoach Club Previews: Read all of these here

In 2016, Whitehead left Catalans to join fellow countryman Josh Hodgson at the Canberra Raiders and made an immediate impact in both SuperCoach and the actual NRL. He played every minute of the full NRL slate (23 games on the edge and one game in the halves) and would finish with an impressive 61 PPG average that was good enough to finish 23rd overall in total points scored. With 48 BPPG and a nose for the try line (he broke the stripe five times in 2016) it looked like the sky would be the limit for the Englishman.

2017 saw the versatile Whitehead switch between the edge, lock and even the centres. Although he scored the same amount of tries as 2016 his BPPG dropped to 43, thus reducing his PPM from 0.75 to 0.68. This resulted in a 54PPG average (including 26 and 10 in his 2 games at centre) – a 7 PPG drop from the previous season. The decline is less severe when only considering his games on the edge (the position he will play this upcoming season), which adjusts his average to 58.5 PPG.

Whitehead burst out of  the gates in 2018, scoring four tries in the opening three games and totalling 10 for the season, doubling his best efforts of each campaign prior. Despite this, he truly started to become a victim of his own versatility by again starting two games in the centres by switching there multiple times in matches when injuries struck. Troublingly, despite this offensive outburst his PPM would drop to 0.61 with a season average of 49 PPG. This would only rise to 50.5 PPG when exclusively considering the games he started on the edge.

Consider the below table of trends (this includes time spent at all positions):

Year 2016 2017 2018
PPM 0.75 0.68 0.61
PPG 61 54 49
BPPG 48 43 39

This doesn’t paint the best projection as it is unlikely that Whitehead will match his 10 try performance in 2019, particularly with the emergence of Joseph Tapine as an 80-minute attacking edge prospect. Ricky Stewart’s latest English recruiting blitz also sees talented players such as John Bateman and Ryan Sutton join the pack, who will demand a share of the ball.

So, what will all this amount to in 2019?

Unless Whitehead can rediscover his base and remain exclusively on the edge – not to mention forging combinations with the new look spine – an improvement on 2018 is not likely. Now, I’m not saying to outright to avoid Whitehead: he is certainly incredibly talented.

Additionally, the Raiders soft opening draw means he is as likely as any to notch some early meat pies, rise in price and be sold at a profit (potentially to Manu Ma’u after a few price drops). However, if the tries don’t come he will easily fall into the ‘mid-range trap’, whereby he doesn’t produce elite points nor make you any cash.

Ironically, the season in which Whitehead gains CTW eligibility we are spoilt for choice with back-row forwards who can be stashed in the centres. Manu Ma’u is arguably the premium option though one you’d probably only consider after a few price drops. John Bateman is $57.7k cheaper and has greater points potential. Kurt Capewell is $117.5k cheaper and could produce a similar average while earning more cash. Then you’ve got a sneaky chance that Briton Nikora (2RF/CTW, $168.1k) bags a starting spot at Sharks, or that NRL exile Taane Milne (2RF/CTW, $181.1k) bursts back onto the scene at the Warriors and punches out similar scores to 2016 where he averaged 54 PPG. And we haven’t even approached the candidates who are centres in real life.

At the end of the day, if you select Whitehead you’re banking on him making more cash or scoring more points than the aforementioned 2RF/CTW prospects. Also, considering the slew of viable cheapies at the position I’ll likely be spending elsewhere.

What are our thoughts?


Check out the rest of our Players of Interest articles below: 

Greg Inglis

Jahrome Hughes

Clint Gutherson

Brett Morris

Kurt Mann

Michael Morgan

Matt Moylan

Esan Marsters

Josh Mansour

Daniel Alvaro

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WhoDatBoy (@neiruu)
1 year ago

Whitehead is a no go for me to start with this year. The main reason the 2rf forward with CTW dual is considered SC gold is that you get a player in the most versatile position with a considerably high floor. People usually like using the term a “Safe 50 points”. Whitehead last year had 16 scores below 50 points, and 8 of those scores were below 40. I don’t see the Raiders improving this season in attack, and whiteheads versatility also risks him moving to the centres, which would be absolutely detrimental to his sc output. Definitely one I’m… Read more »

I don't pray to God; I pray to DCE
I don't pray to God; I pray to DCE (@nrlsupercoach00)
1 year ago

Top of my Avoid list.


WeninRome (@weninrome)
1 year ago

Worth pointing out that he played in the centres last year twice – scored 24 and 31. In 2017 he played in the centres also twice with scores of 26 and 10.

The reliance on tries last year is very alarming. No go for me, regardless of the DPP – unless he starts at lock, which is not likely.

How will the Raiders minutes in the forwards look next year?

OnTheBus (@samardo)
1 year ago

Avoid for me although I think the raiders will go well this year.
I see the defence getting them ahead this year and the attack not so much .
Pass As he doesn’t seem like getting 80min

Tommy (@tommy)
1 year ago

Great write up mate thanks.
I will be avoiding first up and hopefully going for a few cheaper 2nd row options in the backs.

Disco (@disco)
1 year ago

Interested in the John Bateman comment, what is everyone’s thoughts on him?

I don't pray to God; I pray to DCE
I don't pray to God; I pray to DCE (@nrlsupercoach00)
Reply to  Disco
1 year ago

Potential gun if he gets the minutes, which could be hard to come by, given the state of the Raiders 2RF.

“His stats from 2018 are appealing to say the least.

Across 27 games, Bateman averaged 23 tackles, 16.4 runs, 2.4 offloads and 4.4 tackle breaks.”

WeninRome (@weninrome)

He also split his games in the centres and backrow, so who knows where he will end up this year.

central coast crab
central coast crab (@central-coast-crab)
Reply to  WeninRome
1 year ago

instead of bj and croker?
With the loss of the science experiment and Jnr, i feel theyll move papali into the middle, tapine will get one edge, either whitehead or Bateman the other (hopefully Bateman and Whitehead to lock. Thoughts?

TurkeySnow (@turkeysnow)
Reply to  WeninRome
1 year ago

COuld be whithead 2.0 thats why I will be avoiding, watching from the sidelines all Raiders have me scared ATM.

Justin (@jt-2)
1 year ago

Another great writeup mate. I’ve had him in my side all offseason but you may have talked me out of it. I definitely have a soft spot for him since he was the main reason I got out of the blocks so well last year. It’s a bit of a gamble – you kind of know what you’ll get from him in a normal game (40-60), so even if you miss out on a regular centre who goes gangbusters at the start of the year, you won’t be as far back in the pack than you would by picking a… Read more »

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