Months of preparation should see you surrounded by an air of calmness this week, right? Wrong. If you’re like me, it’s pure panic stations right now following the first TLT.
Each year, I reveal my side in the week leading up to lockout. However, this year we thought that we would try something a little bit different by not only revealing my side, but also Joe and Nick’s current draft team (
subject to multiple, multiple and multiple changes henceforth).
So this is how we are going to do it.
Each of us has provided a quick summation of our strategy, plus we identify three players for further discussion as follows:
- The Steve Smith – the first picked player in our side
- The Blind Date – The real risk / reward selection
- Captain Hindsight – The player that we will live to regret not picking
We’ve also recorded a podcast tonight that covers this content and you can download it from here or stream it below.
My strategy in 2018 is simple – “Just Win Baby”.
The Steve Smith
For me there was three – Smith, Turbo and Jurbo. Smith is a no-brainer, he is far and away the best Hooker and should be in 100% of teams – especially with the cheap or cheapish options for your 2nd Hooker, there is no excuse not to go large in the starting spot. Jake and Tom were not far behind, they are the heart and soul of Manly’s attack and I think they are both in for another huge year – top 5 SC players in 2018 for mine, all three of these guys.
The Blind Date
Can it be anyone else but Jarryd Hayne? I am picking and sticking with it, unlike some **Cough Sangster Cough**. Priced at around a 47 average I feel like there surely has to be some upside with him this year, but the question mark has to be over his commitment and if he will give a sh*t this year. I am hoping he will.
Kalyn Ponga – could he be Teddy just $180k cheaper? Maybe, very keen to watch this kid this year.
“The three of us suffer a little bit from group think (and I include Wilfred as well given the thousands of messages we’re bombarding each other with daily) but it’s very interesting in the players we differ on. Because I HATE some of Nick’s picks.
Smarter people than me have written extensively about Fifita’s slow start every single year, so it just seems like bad strategy having him in Round 1. If I can paraphrase myself from my Teams Analysis, Jarryd Hayne and Latrell Mitchell might as well be twins, since they’re both lazy, inconsistent centres whose reputations outstrip their on-field contributions. I’d go mad owning just one, but two?!? Hard pass.
Picking Nathan Brown is like going to a Porsche dealership and buying an SUV with a beige interior. The only premium-priced player that is less exciting is Aaron Woods, who is the missionary position of SuperCoach players.”
“The perennial easy beats. Legendary players such as Mitch Barnett, Matt Prior and Issac Luke (over Cam Smith) were just some members of the Round 1 “Party Liaison” outfit that went on to finish last in the 2017 Young Legends Cup .
Lessons learned surely, but alas and despite a recent name change to ‘Nick’s Boy’s’ in an attempt to mask the failures of 2016 and 2017, there are once again some dubious selections in the 2018.
At the top of the list is Jarryd Hayne. However, given how much of a fan boy Nick is, this selection is really no surprise. Nick and Jarryd both share something in common though, they were both last relevant for SuperCoach in 2014.
Jokes aside, I can’t fault too much of the rest of his side as we share a lot of similar players. I like the addition of Andrew Fifita as in my opinion there are only two ‘rolled in gold’ guns within the front row this year, being the Sharks prop and Sam Burgess. I will likely start with one of these guys myself and potentially Fifita has the higher upside given that scored just the one try last year. It comes at a cost, but both should comfortably average 60 PPG plus and it’s one less trade you need to make in the run home. He’s also running the same expensive combinations as I, while the rest of his squad is relatively ‘cookie cutter’.”
After beating both Nick and Wenin overall in back to back years, what more is there to prove? Ensure justice is served by thrashing both of them in the steak bets, that’s what!
I swear people who’ve been struck by lightning twice winced at how unlucky I was with the steak bets last year, so that’s a focus. But I digress…
I think cash generation is critical and the changes to the schedule mean this process can be sustained longer than in previous seasons, when bye planning started really taking over at about Round 8. In summary, I want to stay relatively in touch with the leaders but rely on having an overwhelming team value to run them down in the final third of the season.
The Steve Smith
Smith is the obvious and boring pick here, so I’ll say Teddy. It’s frightening what he might be able to do with better support and he was already a bit underpriced, given the incredible amount of disallowed tries and try assists last season.
He’s my tip to finish with the highest average in SuperCoach this year.
The Blind Date
I have a few ‘2 Palavis’ in my team but they’re cheapies and probably don’t count.
My riskiest pick is probably Thurston to be honest. If he wasn’t at a hefty discount he wouldn’t be within a mile of my team. I’ve said before that aging champions don’t try to dominate games, they learn when to pick their spots – that’s great for their team but terrible for SuperCoach, which relies on volume. The admission that he’ll defer regularly to Morgan will mean less chances for try assists, force drop outs and all the good stuff that made JT the SuperCoach legend he is.
If Tommy Turbo goes up another gear then good luck to owners – I can’t regret preferring Teddy and I think my team would be too unbalanced to start with both. But I will be very dirty if Jesse Bromwich gets off to a flier. I’ve been a huge supporter of his and just couldn’t make the cash work to fit him in.
“There are a few differences here between Joe’s and my team, as below:
- Me – Fifita, Leilua, Brown, Moses, Mitchell, Hayne, Lomax, Turbo
- Him – Scott, Tanginoa, Gallen, Milford, Croker, Mansour, BJ, Ponga
Joe has been able to fit an extra mid/low-end keeper in the CTW but going Ponga over Turbo at FB. I am guessing he is hoping then that one of his Croker/Mansour/BJ combo jumps back up this year and becomes a keeper, otherwise he could be left with 3 sub-keepers in the CTW. I think 1 of them will hit though so seems a solid hedge by taking all three. Milford could explode early on and is one who I think could hurt those of us who don’t have him as well. I am not a fan of the Scott pick, and Tanginoa could be out of that side at any minute, but the same could be said for Leilua as well. I am guessing Joe didn’t want to have two Leilua’s in his side, that could only lead to trouble!”
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t get the song “Humble” out of my head whenever I think of Joe these days. The bloke has fair dinkum let it all go to his head recently and I blame it all on his single Countdown show appearance last year. Well at least we all know that he is the second best SuperCoach player in his family, with his wife taking out the Yung Legends competition last season.
Given how poor Nick’s SuperCoach teams have been of late, Joe is certainly becoming my biggest and most heated rival.
So how do the 2018 Surgebusters shape up?
Much like one of my earlier draft teams, Joe has opted for a very light front-row. I see merit in this given the complete lack of depth in this position. However, I am not sure whether picking Scott over say a Rochow will reap too much more cash or points.
Ponga is there at fullback and the cash freed up allows for a very heavy second-row forward line-up and again I can’t fault much with this.
Joe’s real risk / reward decision sits within his CTW, with Croker, Mansour and BJ. All of which could be mid-priced flops this season or he could have nailed it bang on ! I’ve vented my frustration with the CTW position many times and can therefore see Joe’s line of thinking, but if I was to make one change it would be probably to downgrade one of the mid-prices here and upgrade Scott to a gun (if possible).”
Go hard early, in every way possible.
With the impact of the byes significantly reduced this season, it is arguably more critical than ever to get as many certified guns that have attractive early season draws into your Round 1 side. Therefore, I’ve looked to deploy players that provide the mighty Wenins Romes the best chance of getting off to an almighty flyer this season. This includes the salary cap suicide strategy of the Teddy / Turbo and Smith / Cook combinations, whilst there is also the “Russian roulette” move to include two Canberra Raiders outside backs in Jordan Rapana and BJ Leilua. However, with opening games against the Knights, Titans and Warriors I am hoping that this is more an educated play rather than a bullet to the head.
In addition to the above, it’s become made even more painstakingly obvious through TLT that CTW is completely and utterly disgusting this year. There are more question marks over the “guns” than a 2am kebab, whilst as for the “cheapies”, where art thou? Hence, the need to take more risks in the backs than ever before and the presence of a non-playing reserve in Lomax.
The Steve Smith
The Australian captain’s namesake, but of the Cameron variety, is an extremely easy call here. Therefore, I’ll say Johnathan Thurston. Unlike Joe, I have full confidence in the games greatest ever half in 2018 with his selection not only due to the discounted price. The Cowboys will go very close to winning the competition in 2018 and JT will be their key man, not Michael Morgan. I can’t remember Michael Jordan playing second fiddle to Scottie Pippen, ever, even when he rode the bus…
The Blind Date
Synonymous with the ending to any good blind date, Joseph “BJ” Leilua has all the trademarks of a great high risk / high reward selection. The Raiders have been largely a closed shop this pre-season, which included the unusual decision to not partake in the most recent round of trial matches. I like it. Let the actions speak louder than words.
They’ve invested in a new fitness regime (which saw BJ shed 4kg of puppy fat) and also have one of the easiest early draws going around, so I am hoping and praying that BJ can one of the key benefactors in this. However, there’s no Josh Hodgson and who knows how the 2018 halves combination(s) will work.
It has to be one of the Roosters outside backs in Daniel Tupou or Latrell Mitchell. I’m definitely a member of the Tupou fan club, so if the side that I end up running with can’t fit him in and he fires then I’ll no doubt be bitterly disappointed. On the other hand, I have been far less confident of Mitchell and have been avoiding his inclusion in any of my draft sides. In his most recent trial match, yes he scored two tries but he also made a pathetically low four runs and seven tackles. Should he fire, then I’ll have no one to blame but myself.
“Lomax is at least two injuries away from getting a run for the Dragons, so he can’t be thought of as this year’s Ponga. And while he’s cheaper than ever and named to play middle this week, I think Surgess’ days as a top tier premium gun are over. I know he’s only 30 but he’s taken a terrible beating over the years and somehow looks and plays older than Gal (hmm). My prediction is that his ceiling is 65 PPG and that’s what he’s priced at so he’s not for me.”
“Burgess, no! Just no!!
Rapana chews up a lot of cap space, but I like the pick, he could fire early and the rest of us could be scrambling to get on him.
He has also blatantly copied my team here, with other three differences as follows:
- Me – Mitchell, Hayne, Fifita
- Him – Rapana, BJ, Burgess
I’d take my three any day of the week ;).”