SuperCoach 2023 – The Pig Pen
The work never stops at NRL SuperCoach Talk. As this season officially finishes, we simply turn our sights onto the 2023 season. Alex, in particular, has done the hard yards in collaborating an in-depth list of potential 2023 starting players and better yet, he’s sharing it with the world. Over the next few weeks, we will be putting out this three part series of the “ones to watch”, as co-founder Nick would say.
We kick the year off with the staples of any SuperCoach team, the big boys up front: the Forwards.
Another successful year in the books for my SuperCoach squad. A final finish of 192nd overall which makes it 3/3 for top 600 finishes. That run has made that so excited for next season that I’ve gone ahead and completed my “Way Too Early” 2023 shortlist. There are a few disclaimers that I’d like to make before starting:
- This shortlist is based on opinion only
- The prices are a rough projection and definitely not accurate
- Duals are based on opinion also and potentially not accurate
- Byes/strength of schedules will change a lot of things come 2023
At the end of the series, I’ll be stating the players that I’m most excited for and at this stage will be in my 2023 squad.
PREMIUM = $520k and over
MID = $350k-$519k
CHEAPIE = $349k and under
Joseph Tapine - FRF - 66.5 - $585,200
Joe Tapine averaged 79.4 from Rd 13 onwards if you take out his injury affected game. A beastly average of 58.6 of pure base in those games also. If he was priced at that average he would be around $698,000 for next season. He could be a million dollar man by this time next year and still has a long way to go before proving he’s worth that kind of money. With no worrying about State of Origin selection, he will be very highly owned but an absolute weapon of a SuperCoach player.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - 2RF/FRF - 67.0 - $589,600
A fair few guns available at the FRF position and for good reason. Tino somewhat flew under the radar this season, I believe everyone would have known he was playing great footy but how many took notice of his season average of 67 points per game. Another season of being a DPP and a better team, he looks set for an even better year.
David Klemmer - FRF - 63.9 - $562,300 / Payne Haas - FRF - 63.0 - $554,400
David Klemmer and Payne Haas will start next year around the same price and are both gun FRF. Klemmer currently doesn’t have a team for 2024 onwards and if he hasn’t signed with a team by the start of next year he’ll come out of the blocks firing hoping for another decent payday. Haas is similar that next year from November 1 2023 onwards he’s eligible for a new contract and he wants that $1m. Definitely unders for next season and is a proven gun as he’s previously averaged 68.0, 75.5, and 78.3.
Tohu Harris - 2RF/FRF - 60.9 - $535,900 / Reuben Cotter - 2RF/FRF - 59.3 - $521,800
Another two players that will come into 2023 under-priced are Tohu Harris and Reuben Cotter. Harris was coming off an ACL injury and as always, players returning from that amount of time come back slowly. Still finishing the season with a 60.9 average, his last 8 games were at prop, and he averaged 64.8 over that period. Cotter is an absolute base beast, his highest base games this season are a 75, 74, 62 and 61. A workhorse if there ever was one and these two players should be dual FRF/2RF and after what we saw in 2022, they are invaluable.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona - FRF/2RF - 52.0 - $457,600 / Christian Welch - FRF - 49.0 - $460,000 / Josh King - 2RF/FRF - 43.7 - $384,500
There’s a distinct Melbourne flavour in this section. Losing the likes of Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Brandon Smith opens up a lot of minutes in the middle and edges. NAS has come off a decent season and opportunities will open up for him even further next year. Welch is due back in 2023 from an ACL injury and they’ll be banking on their main man in the middle to steer the ship. An average of 59.2 in 2021 doesn’t scream amazing but with the new pack, the potential of more minutes and more runs are there. Josh King has been playing a mix of prop, lock and interchange this year and has been right up there with Melbournes most consistent performers. He’s definitely got Bellamy’s trust and could play a larger role next year.
Tevita Pangai - 2RF/FRF - 49.9 - $439,100
TPJ is an interesting player with an average of just 49.9 for 2022 and his previous two years of 65.0 and 69.6. If he stays at the Bulldogs next year and can lock down either an edge or a prop role he’s a solid shout for your 2023 teams.
Stefano Utoikamanu - FRF - 30.3 - $266,600
This early on there isn’t a lot of cheapie options available for the FRF position but one that has been a cheapie prospect for a couple of years now is Utoikamanu. The last 8 games of 2021 were the best form we’ve seen from Uto where he averaged almost 66 points per game. If he finds himself back in the prop rotation for next year he’s surely on the radar of most SuperCoaches.
Peter Hola - FRF - 0.0 - $210,000
A potential cheapie that I expect to appear a little later in the season (early if we are very lucky). Peter Hola moved to the Raiders from the Cowboys in 2022 and didn’t play a single NRL minute for them. However he did win the NSW Cup Player of the Year award for the club. He played a mix of lock, prop and off the bench but he was by far at his best at prop. He played at prop in the last 7 games of the season and averaged 56.8 minutes with 67 minutes as his season high. In those 7 games he scored 4 tries, 2.5 tackle busts a game, almost 140 running metres a game, and 4 offloads. With Canberra losing Adam Elliott and Ryan Sutton, potential minutes in the middle could swing towards Hola who appears ready to make an impact.
Franklin Pele - FRF - 0.0 - $210,000
Franklin Pele is a name that’s been hot on the lips for some time now not just in the SuperCoach world but everywhere in the NRL. Only playing one game for the sharks in 2021 and none in 2022, he’s now off to the Bulldogs where hopefully he can crack the top team. A try scoring machine who’s athletic ability has shades of Haas-like ferociousness. 19 games for the Newtown Jets in 2022 and he never played more than 44 minutes in a game, Pele still managed to score 11 tries. Including a hat trick off the bench in round 17 and a double off the bench in round 23. Do yourself a favour and put his name into YouTube, I can guarantee you won’t be letdown.
Isaiah Papali’i - 2RF - 79.0 - $695,200
The second row position proves to be one of the best scoring positions in SuperCoach with 7 players in the top 25 for season averages. Papali’i should have his first year being solely 2RF in 2023 as he joins the tigers. He backed up his incredible rise to stardom this year with a 79 average and yet again is a mainstay in most squads. Only thing turning me away is the uncertainty in his role with the new team.
Cameron Murray - 2RF - 71.2 - $626,500
Cam Murray owners suffered a huge blow in the final round with a 1 point effort after suffering a concussion in the first tackle. Prospective 2023 owners rejoice as his average went from down 3.7 points per game and makes him 25-40k cheaper.
Shaun Lane - 2RF - 68.8 - $605,400
Shaun Lane was my surprise player of the year, a similar story to Tapine as he started firing in round 11 and ended up as the 3rd best 2RF this season. If he was priced at his average from Rd 11-25 at 77.8 points per game, he’d be around $684,600 for next season. If he continues his form into 2023 he’ll be a must-have.
Angus Crichton - 2RF - 66.3 - $583,400
A bizarre year for a player who was seen as one of the most consistent players in SuperCoach. With a 3-week stint on the bench from rounds 3-5, and very up and down scores forms start to finish. He had 9 games under 50 points this season which is the most he has ever had in a single season. Angus still finished with a great average helped by a late season push and if you take out that stretch off the bench, he had an average of 68.5 for the year. He is forever a SuperCoach gun, and the Roosters will be even better in 2023.
Ryan Matterson - 2RF - 66.2 - $582,500
Another player with a similar story to Angus Crichton, a normally consistent gun who had a bizarre year. From rounds 5-20, Matto had an average of 73.6 while only playing over 65 minutes which was in Round 5. He had been playing a lock/interchange role that effected his minutes and normally consistency he would get playing 80 minutes on an edge. Next season he potentially gets his second-row spot back with Isaiah Papali’i leaving the club. If so, he should be a lock into your team as he’s potentially discounted 5-10 points for that role.
David Fifita - 2RF - 65.6 - $577,300
2021: The year of David Fifita! 2022: not so much. In 2021, Fifita averaged a whopping 85 points per game and was 6.5 points per game more than the second highest 2RF (Isaiah Papali’i). This season he finished with a 65.6 average, was 13.4 points per game behind Isaiah Papali’i and finished 11th for 2RF averages. A season to forgot for the Fifita and the Titans but 2023 appears to be a new beginning for the Gold Coast as they strung together a few good performances to finish 2022 and have the veteran Kieran Foran joining the ranks which should help the likes of Fifita.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - 2RF/FRF - 67.0 - $589,600 / Tohu Harris - 2RF/FRF - 60.9 - $535,900 / Reuben Cotter - 2RF/FRF - 593 - $521,800
SEE FRONT ROW ANALYSIS ABOVE
Cam McInnes - 2RF - 58.3 - $513,000
A return to the NRL after missing the entire 2021 season has been solid for Mr Reliable. Surely losing his dual in 2023 is a bit of a letdown but he’s still coming into the year under what he’s truly worth. Taking out his first 3 games where he was eased into the games and had low minutes, his season average is actually 62.5. He also only missed one game the entire season for Cronulla and that was round 1. He’s as safe as you can get and is decent value for your team next season, especially if he finally receives the starting lock role.
Adam Elliott - 2RF - 53.7 - $472,600
Yet again, another up and down year for Adam Elliott. Starting on the bench, starting at lock, having games at hooker for stints, bizarre bizarre. However, in games he played decent minutes (60+) he averages 71.3 points per game. If he plays the lock role next year at Newcastle, he could almost be at a McInnes level of consistency.
Josh Curran - 2RF - 54.0 - $475,200 / Mitch Barnett - 2RF - 51.0 - $448,800
The New Zealand Warriors starting 17 will look very different next season with quite a few losses and many new additions. One of the mainstays in the squad is Josh Curran. A newcomer who plays in the same position is Mitch Barnett. Both followed a similar timeline this season with time away from the game through injury/suspension, games off the bench, games through the middle and games on the edge. Next season they should be the starting edges for the Warriors who lose the likes of Euan Aitken, Jack Murchie and Eli Katoa. Both players averaged over 10 points per game more in 2021 and are capable of a much better season in 2023.
Luciano Leilua - 2RF - 52.4 - $461,100
If the Cowboys continue to be a top 4 team and Leilua continues to be an 80 minute second rower for them, he will finish with an average of 10 points greater or more next year. He’s now blooded into the squad, he’s had 2 tries, 3 try assists and averaged 60.1 points per game in his last 8 games for the Cowboys (4 of which were under 62 minutes).
*Editor's note: this was written prior to his domestic violence charge. Worth keeping that in mind
Erin Clark - 2RF/HOK - 47.0 - $413,600
A pod play against Smith could potentially be the Titans utility. He’s a below average hooker, there’s no denying that but before his injury he had a run of games at 13/14 and averaged 59.7 over the 4 games. If he retains that lock role next year, with the titans improving he’s one to keep an eye on.
Corey Harawira-Naera - 2RF - 45.8 - $403,000
CHN has been a decent SuperCoach player in the past (2021 61.0 average). This year he lost his edge role to the combo of Elliott Whitehead and Hudson Young. Next year with Adam Elliott leaving, there’s hope for CHN to get back his spot on the edge where he can average a hell of a lot more than 45.8. This year alone, in games he played 40+ minutes in he averaged 53.4. If he goes back to 80 minutes on the edge, he can easily go 60+.
Brandon Smith - 2RF/HOK - 45.5 - $400,400
Brandon Smith is the obvious one who will be one of the most highly owned players next year with his move to the Sydney Roosters. When starting at hooker in 2022 (2 games), he scored 102 and 62 points while playing 70+ minutes in both.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner - 2RF - 44.8 - $394,200
Pre-injury RFM was absolutely elite! His 2020 average when playing 80 minutes was 68.3 points per game. That was in one of the worst NRL sides we had seen in a very long time. With the Bulldogs team improving next season and RFM back to playing big minutes on the edge, starting with him could get you ahead of the curve.
Luke Garner - 2RF/CTW - 41.4 - $364,300
Here’s my early call that isn’t controversial in my opinion: if Luke Garner starts for Penrith, he’ll be the 2nd most owned player in SuperCoach to begin the season. In 80 minute games on the edge, Garner has an average of 58.9. He’s a well-known try scorer and playing in this atrocious Tigers side hasn’t give him as many try scoring opportunities as he should be getting. Playing inside Luai would open up many scoring chances for him and the sky is the limit for 2023.
Kelma Tuilagi - 2RF - 40.5 - $356,400
A fresh start at Manly could do Tuilagi the world of good. To start the season, Tuilagi was one of the most popular players in the game with a 46.4% ownership after the 1st round. He didn’t live up to the hype but now has a year under his belt, is at the lower range of prices for the “mids” and is going into a team much better than the 2022 West Tigers.
Tevita Pangai - 2RF/FRF - 49.9 - $439,100 / J King - 2RF/FRF - 43.7 - $384,500
SEE FRONT ROW ANALYSIS ABOVE
Eliesa Katoa - 2RF - 39.1 - $344,000
Katoa had been on the outer all year at the Warriors. A total of 15 games this year but only starting 4 times. He played 60+ minutes 4 times this season also and in those 4 games he average 61.3 points per game with 2 tries. Going into the Melbourne system could be the best thing that’s ever happened to him as they consistently turn below average players and nuffs to quality players. In my eyes, Katoa is already decent and just needs to be given his time on the field to show it. This one is a complete miss by the Warriors and 2023 will show them why.
J'maine Hopgood - 2RF - 35.5 - $312,400
A small sample size for Hopgood only playing 9 games in the NRL but just front that alone, I’m quite encouraged by his performances. 335 career SuperCoach points in 320 total minutes with no tries and no try assists. Looking at the last game he played which was his best NRL performance so far with the most minutes (68), Hopgood had 67 SuperCoach points with 63 points in pure base. If he manages to get a starting spot in the Eels lineup, he’s a must-have.
Trent Loiero - 2RF - 34.7 - $305,300
Loiero surprised a lot of fans this year by playing 16 games for the Melbourne Storm and being a part of their top playing 17. Gaining the trust of Bellamy and his teammates could see him get a starting spot on the edge with Kaufusi and K Bromwich leaving next season. If so, he’s gonna be very highly owned.
Mitch Kenny - 2RF/HOK - 29.5 - $259,600
Mitch Kenny is a player who should be starting for the Penrith Panthers. The only downside to Kenny is the looming Soni Luke on the bench who may eat into his minutes. He should still average decently and generate good cash but mostly not a play in your top 17.
Ben Trbojevic - 2RF/CTW - 27.2 - $239,400
Burbo has made his way into plenty of SuperCoach teams over the past couple of years. As a dual-nuff option for people to loop, as a cheapie last season and this season and now potentially an actual top 17 player. If he snags a starting spot next season whether it’s in the centres or on the edge, he’s for sure worth a consideration for your sides. In the four 80 minute games he had in 2022, he has a 52 point average. However one of those games he had a 96 and the other 3 were all below 50. Consistency may not be key with him but he’ll start off cheap and should make money regardless.
Josh Schuster - 2RF/5/8 - 22.9 - $220,000
The player that NRLSCTalk presenters voted as the One To Watch for 2023. Schuster has a lot to prove after absolutely firing in his rookie season and then having an abysmal run in his second year in the league. With Kieran Foran leaving the club and the 6 jersey up for grabs, Schuster needs to come out of the gates with a bang and have a successful preseason if he wishes to hold onto it. With his likely dual for next season, he will potentially be the most owned player in SuperCoach 2023.
Shawn Blore - 2RF - 0 - $220,000
Another near bottom dollar option is Blore. A highly talked about cheapie for 2022 but didn’t make it to the first round with an ACL injury in the preseason. Due back to play for round 1 in 2023, he could easily slot into the second row spot that Kelma Tuilagi was previously in. Blore is not a renowned SuperCoach scorer. He jagged a starting spot in the last 6 games of the 2021 season and he averaged 46.7 points per game in almost 76 minutes a game. If you do own and he is starting, he will be a wait and see before playing. Not the scariest non-own either.
Brendan Piakura - 2RF - 13.0 - $210,000
The Broncos right edge is in shambles and Jordan Riki is not living up to the expectations. They have a player in the squad that is on big money for a teenager and is ready to make an impact. Brendan Piakura has only made 2 NRL appearances that have combined for roughly 15 minutes total so going off NRL stats doesn’t give the best indicator to what he can achieve. In the QLD Cup, his rough SuperCoach average for games he’s played 70+ minutes is 61.0 points per game. In those 8 games he has scored 5 tries and assisted 3. He’s very capable of being another attacking weapon for the Broncos as they push to make the Top 8 in 2023, he just needs to be given an opportunity.
Trey Mooney - 2RF - 0 - $180,000
Another young gun with a lot of potential who could break into Canberras top side in 2023. Playing 1 NRL game in his career for a total of 10 minutes, Trey Mooney showed his worth with a quality season for the Raiders NSW Cup side. Playing mostly at second row but also in the lock role, he had 10 games over 60 minutes out of 16 appearances with three 80 minute games. He scored 5 tries, 1 try assist and 4 linebreaks. Not a huge attacking threat but definitely doesn’t shy away from crossing the line, the best part of his game that I can see is his ability to get base stats. He gets involved in the match and gets 40+ tackles anytime he plays big minutes as well as averaging close to 120 running metres in games he plays 40+ minutes. With the pack slightly shuffling and ageing next year in the nations capital, Mooney could be a nice addition and a contender for cheapie of the year.
Jack Howarth - 2RF/CTW - 0 - $180,000
When was the last time that the Melbourne Storm spent $2.5m on a teenager? Howarth signed a 5-year deal with the Storm before the 2022 season and is looking like the future of the club. His first season was spent playing Queensland cup and not a single minute in the NRL. Howarth played 12 games total this year and 5 were at centre and 7 at second row, leading me to believe he’s a fairly good shot at a dual for 2023. Out of his 12 games, he played the full 80 minutes eleven times. In those 11 games, he had 2 tries, 3 try assists, 4.7 tackle busts a game, 10 offloads, 18.7 tackles a game (25.3 at second row) and just over 120 running metres a game. A definite gun in the making and will be basement price next year, even if he jags a bench spot he could be a great player to start with.
Joe Chan - 2RF - 0.0 - $180,000
A name not many will be familiar with but Joe Chan will be playing in Australia for the Melbourne Storm in 2023. The Frenchman who previously played for the Catalan Dragons and is the son of former New Zealand international Alex Chan is a second-rower who’s only 20 years old. In the super league this year, he played in 20 games for the Dragons and started in 10 of them. In those 20 games he crossed the line 7 times. For the Melbourne Storm to sign a young player from overseas to a multi year deal should say enough as it is. From a nobody to a potential future star is what Bellamy and the Storm do, watch out for this kid.