The first bye round is here so given the reduced number of games we will be providing a PlayON preview for each rather than the one Saturday edition.
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Manly vs. Cowboys (Brookvale)
It looks like it will be one man (Jason Taumalolo) vs. the Manly forward pack tonight. Taumalolo ($24.2m) therefore appears set for a massive game and despite the huge price tag is pretty much a must have tonight. However, Manly have conceded the 10th fewest points to second row forwards this year, if it means anything?
To the home side now, this is a dream match-up for Martin Taupau ($22.4m). Not only have the Cowboys conceded more points than any other side to front row forwards this season, but they are missing both Matt Scott and Coen Hess this weekend. Honestly, this could get ugly and a repeat of the round 8 and 9 rampage against the Knights and Roosters is on the cards. Much like Taumalolo, Taupau is very much worth the outlay tonight.
How poor have the Cowboys been against hookers this season? Cameron Smith’s massive performance against them last weekend just solidified North Queensland as the most favourable match-up for that position and this sets Apisai Koroisau ($18.4m) up for a massive match tonight.
So that’s a massive chunk of our salary cap gone, which means we need to save some money elsewhere. Look no further than the Cowboys rookie, Enari Tuala ($5.9m), who has been named to line up in the centres this week with Hampton and Linnett named in the forwards.
The halves looks so dicey tonight and I really don’t know if Daly Cherry-Evans ($18.1m) is worth the outlay given he has lost the goal kicking duties to Trent Hodkinson ($8.5m), but then again the match is at Brookvale.
For the rest. Shaun Fensom ($8.6m) looks very attractive in a forward pack that is lacking a lot of depth and experience. He has been named to start in the second row, but could shift to the front row before kick-off. Regardless, I think he plays a stack of minutes tonight and represents good value. With the loss of Tom Trbojevic to Origin, Matt Wright ($12.6m) takes over the fullback role and at half the cost, albeit half the talent as well. Moses Suli ($10m) is another of the Sea Eagles backs that represents some value, particularly at home.