SUPERCOACH PAUL GALLEN'S RETURN TO THE STARTING LINE-UP IS WELCOME NEWS
SHARKS v DRAGONS
Sharks: Paul Gallen’s return to the starting side is welcome news to those who missed his benching. Gallen scored 40 in 45 minutes and SuperCoach Stats predicts he will drop by $60,000 over the first six rounds, at which point he’ll be a juicy pick-up. However, those who already own him must ride the downward slope for now and wait for the upward swing, saving the two trades involved in punting him then bringing him back. Sione Katoa is also a hold given there are no obvious replacements (unless you missed a popular cheapie). But that could change next week if Phillip Sami, Will Matthews or Adam Doueihi fire.
Dragons: Don’t pick Gareth Widdop after a career year, they said. He will get less ball alongside Ben Hunt, they said. Well, Widdop made a fool of the 94 per cent of SuperCoaches, including myself, who agreed with these pre-season predictions by notching another ton at Fortress Kogarah and topping SuperCoach scoring for the week. Luciano Leilua only managed 13 in 24 minutes and is a sell option. If you have the cash to go to Robbie Rochow, do it. In worrying signs, popular players James Graham (43 minutes) and Jack De Belin (58 minutes) attracted approximately 10 minutes less than their season averages from last year (although De Belin was saved by a try).
ROOSTERS v BULLDOGS
Roosters: The return of Luke Keary will only improve the left-side attack and therefore the service to popular midranger Latrell Mitchell, who flopped last week like most Roosters in the shock loss to the Tigers. Sio Siua Taukeiaho notched just 38 in 48 minutes and, most worryingly, didn’t kick goals. He is the third most sold player this week and for good reason, particularly for those who missed Rochow. James Tedesco is the fourth most sold player, but those people are crazy. He would have cracked the half ton if he could catch and the combination with Cooper Cronk will come.
Bulldogs: Raymond FaitalaMariner is the eighth most purchased player following his display on the left edge, where he combined well with Kieran Foran. RFM scored 76 points, including a try, but the total of 35 in base stats is a worry for an 80-minute stint. He’s a solid buy in the mid-range, but Robbie Rochow and Slade Griffin are far better purchases for $60,000 less and with better base.
BRONCOS v COWBOYS
Broncos: It’s not often SuperCoaches praise Wayne Bennett, but the veteran mentor has seen the light and benched Sam Thaiday instead of Tevita Pangai Jr. TPJ banged out 57 in 46 minutes and we can expect more of the same this week, especially with utility Tom Opacic named on the bench. Anthony Milford is the fifth most sold player following his Kogarah shocker. But these SuperCoaches are jumping the gun because he plays at Suncorp this week (where he averages 77 over his career) against the Cowboys (who he averages 68 against over his career). He then has a soft run against the Tigers, Titans (at Suncorp) and Knights. Matt Lodge had a shocker on his return to NRL but the signs were mostly good for SuperCoach. He played 57 minutes and topped the metres in a well-beaten Brisbane pack. He remains a starting SuperCoach player, while Jamayne Issako wouldn’t look out of place in any 17 given his strong base of 35 (including tackle busts).
Cowboys: As predicted in the pre-season, Jason Taumalolo’s game time dropped by 10 minutes with Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston back (he played 53 minutes last week compared to an average of 63 last year). Like Gallen, Lolo should drop to a very juicy price by round six or so.
WARRIORS v TITANS
Warriors: Shaun Johnson was huge last week despite the long trip to Perth and he is a captaincy option this round against the Titans at Mt Smart. Isaiah Papali’i (58 in 80 minutes, including a try) and Ligi Sao (40 in 46 minutes — great work rate) produced as low-ownership cheapies. One will be a must have, the other will lose their starting spot when Simon Mannering (shoulder) returns as early as next week. Both are too risky for now but stick them at the top of your watch list.
Titans: Leilani Latu’s 24 in 40 minutes isn’t good enough and he has bid farewell to Sangster’s Paradise, replaced by Robbie Rochow. Phillip Sami (64) crossed for a try and will be a serious target if he backs up with another good score this week. Keep an eye on Will Matthews (47 in 55 minutes) as a sneaky cheapie for next week with rare dual flexibility at CTW and 2RF. Bryce Cartwright scored 43 in 52 minutes, almost entirely in base stats. He’ll be a handy cow but appears highly unlikely to return to the glory days of 2016, when he finished second in the SuperCoach rankings behind Cameron Smith.
PANTHERS v RABBITOHS
Panthers: Cheapie Viliame Kikau produced a barnstormer off the bench and is therefore the second most purchased player this week. Trent Merrin’s 73 was impressive and he’s looking as fit as ever, but the lack of game time (50 minutes) is a worry.
Rabbitohs: Richie Kennar scored two tries against the Warriors and showed being outside Dane Gagai is a damn fine place to be for a cheapie. SuperCoaches will be keeping a hawk-like watch on cheapie prospect Adam Doueihi, who will play halfback and likely kick goals. He is only available at CTW for SuperCoach and could be a great replacement for Sione Katoa. Popular cheapie Mark Nicholls (27 in 41 minutes) was disappointing from a work-rate perspective. He has been benched this week and looms as a potential sell next round for a Rochow, Griffin, Sao, Papali’i type. Preseason fancy Cameron Murray scores the lock spot a week too late for SuperCoaches, but remains a player to monitor. Damien Cook owners will be pretty chuffed after he played 80 minutes for 67 points.
STORM v TIGERS
Storm: If Cameron Munster ever becomes a full-time fullback, he will be owned by more than 50 per cent of SuperCoaches. Cameron Smith is always an obvious captain option, but especially this week against the Tigers at AAMI Park in Billy Slater’s 300th game. Jesse Bromwich (48 minutes) and Nelson Asofa-Solomona (34 minutes) will never attract the game time required for SuperCoach in a pack that features four middle forwards on the bench.
Tigers: Robbie Rochow is the safest and best cheapie option for those trading this week. He played 80 minutes on an edge for 61 points, but the most impressive part was the 53 points in pure base stats. Ivan Cleary won’t muck around with a winning side and Rochow therefore has the job security to ensure at least one or two rises and probably more based purely on form, even with Chris McQueen and Sauaso Sue lurking.
SEA EAGLES v EELS
Sea Eagles: Kelepi Tanginoa was in beast mode for his 41 in 47 minutes and he remains a cheapie purchase, although it’s best wait to see if he backs it up this week. One thing is sure, Tanginoa’s spot in the 17 is safe through form alone, even when Darcy Lussick (ankle) returns in a few weeks. Tom Trbojevic did basically nothing and still scored 73. Gun. Jake Trbojevic’s 59 was a tad disappointing for him, but the good news is he played the full 89 minutes.
Eels: Mitchell Moses (35) is worth another crack. He had excuses with a HIA and sinbinning. Nathan Brown notched a strong 74, but it’s hard to see the scores continuing given a game-time drop from last year’s average of 67 minutes to 59.
RAIDERS V KNIGHTS
Raiders: Siliva Havili only played 30 minutes. Luckily for the 32 per cent who still own him, he was saved by a try. But scores in the 50s are not sustainable in this game time and a trade to Damien Cook or Slade Griffin is a must over the next two weeks. Jarrod Croker (21) was steamrolled by Konrad Hurrell early and wasn’t the same when he returned from a concussion test. He’s definitely worth another crack this week.
Knights: Slade Griffin is the most purchased player in SuperCoach following a brilliant 82. His score was inflated by eight minutes of extra time and a try, but he still played 60 minutes of regular time. At his work rate, this equates to a floor of 40-ish, more than enough for some handy rises. Kalyn Ponga outplayed his more expensive rivals James Tedesco (by 46 points) and Tom Trbojevic (by eight). Connor Watson (57) and Herman Ese’ese (64 in 52 minutes) were also impressive in Newcastle’s win.
The Tigers’ Robbie Rochow is the best cheapie option. Picture: AAP