SuperCoach 2019 team before round one.
SuperCoach 2019 team before round one.

POD path to glory: Players who’ll kill it in NRL Supercoach

Guns and cheapies.

That's the mantra I always follow when piecing together a SuperCoach team at the start of the season - guns to bring in the points and cheapies to bring the cash.

That being said I have gone down a different path in 2019.

 

Usually my final team at the start of round one is a squad that just feels right regardless of ownership.

This year, however, I wanted to put together a team with more POD-factor so I set myself the challenge of recruiting a starting 13 that included at least six players with less than 20 per cent ownership.

 

HOOKER

Damien Cook needs to back up a career year to find SuperCoach success in 2019. Picture: AAP
Damien Cook needs to back up a career year to find SuperCoach success in 2019. Picture: AAP

Damien Cook │ $726,000 │ 17% ownership

The most expensive man in SuperCoach and I don't care. I missed out on Cook last year and it hurt me as he went on to become the best player in 2018. There are a lot of reasons to pass on Cook to start the season - price, coming off a career year, new coach - but there isn't enough there to dissuade me. The biggest issue I see is Wayne Bennett having an effect on Cook's output but the incumbent NSW hooker has been quoted as saying Bennett doesn't want to change his game. And with a low-ish ownership of 17 per cent that's good enough for me.

RESERVE: Kurt Mann is in here at the moment in the hope he gets the hooking position at the Knights. I haven't thought too far ahead in the event that plan goes pear-shaped.

 

FRONT ROW

Tevita Pangai and Marty Taupau are both in for big 2019 seasons.
Tevita Pangai and Marty Taupau are both in for big 2019 seasons.

Marty Taupau │ $605,100 │ 24%

Marty 'Kapow' was huge for the Sea Eagles in a dismal year and sometimes looked like the only man on the paddock willing to have a go. He finished 2018 with an average of 64.7 and was second only to Andrew Fifita. Hopefully he keeps the rampage going into 2019 and with dual FRF/2RF flexibility Taupau looks the goods.

Tevita Pangai │ $495,000 │ 43%

Another player who burned me last year, Pangai is one of the most popular players in the game. I had him last year as a cheapie and sold him when I thought he'd maxed out. He piled on a bunch more value after I cashed him in so I look forward to a full season with Anthony Seibold now in charge at the Broncos. I fully expect TPJ to better his average of 52.9 with more consistent minutes in the pack.

RESERVE: Payne Haas and Josh Kerr fill the FRF bench spots. Haas should be a slow-burning cow if he starts from the bench as expected and Kerr is just a place-filler at the moment but could be any cheapie.

 

 

SECOND ROW

Jake trbojevic, Jason Taumalolo and Jai Arrow make up a beast second row.
Jake trbojevic, Jason Taumalolo and Jai Arrow make up a beast second row.

Jake Trbojevic │ $667,600 │ 39%

One of my first picked, Jake Trbojevic was a beast in 2018 as he looked to carry the struggling Sea Eagles through the season. He and Taupau were the only shining lights - along with brother Tom - in a trainwreck of a season. As with Taupau I'm banking on a coaching change to deliver more wins and hopefully more points for the forward duo. I fully expect Trbojevic to hit that 70+ average again.

Jason Taumalolo │ $654,400 │ 26%

With the Cowboys strengthening their forward pack a few people are off Taumololo, thinking North Queensdland's $10 million man will see less minutes. JT (we can call him that now!) averaged 70.3 last year in a team that didn't perform very well. Even if he does see less minutes with the addition of Josh McGuire to the ranks I would expect Taumalolo to be busier with the time he does spend on the field. The man himself has also promised to up his offload game.

Jai Arrow │ $598,000 │ 22%

The Titans enforcer both helped and hindered me last year. I didn't buy him due to the back issues that hampered much of his season so seeing the big scores he put on periodically hurt. Two tons and an overall average of 63 were amazing considering the low scores - one as low as 17 - that cropped up when his back spasms kicked in mid-match. I'm hopeful Arrow left the spasms in 2018 and 2019 will see him become a 70+ average gun.

RESERVE: John Bateman and Joe Stimson are my two main reserves. I'm hoping Bateman kills it at the Raiders not to mention his handy dual CTW positioning. Stimson is in for a big year at the Storm and should make some cash. My third reserve is Bryce Cartwright. I feel dirty having the Panther-turned-Titan in my squad but if he rediscovers some form circa 2016 then there's cash to be made. If he flops again hopefully I lose nothing.

 

HALFBACK

Can Shaun Johnson be a star for the Sharks? Picture: Getty
Can Shaun Johnson be a star for the Sharks? Picture: Getty

Shaun Johnson │ $603,000 │ 15%

We know, historically, that halves at new clubs struggle to find their feet. I'm banking on SJ to buck that trend. It isn't a position with great depth in 2019 and I like the fact he is sitting at less than 20 per cent ownership. Johnson has been a pretty consistent player over the last couple of years, his average of 64.4 the lowest since the 2013 season. With SJ behind a solid, grinding Sharks pack I think he'll kill it.

RESERVE: Adam Keighran is earmarked as the man to take Johnson's place at the Warriors. He is a bottom-dollar cheapie who should generate some cash if that all comes to pass.

 

FIVE-EIGHTH

Connor Watson has the potential to be a SuperCoach gun in 2019. Picture: Getty
Connor Watson has the potential to be a SuperCoach gun in 2019. Picture: Getty

Connor Watson │ $537,100 │ 3%

I don't want to write about Watson because check out that ownership percentage. Super POD! I can't believe he isn't on the radar of more SuperCoaches. He averaged 57.4 in 2018 but had two injury-affected games which dragged that number down. Remove those and that average jumps to 65. I can understand if people are steering clear because they are unsure how his switch to fullback will affect his output but Watson played his junior footy in the No. 1 jersey so it's not like he's stepping into an unfamiliar position. If the Knights have a good year - and their steady growth and roster changes over the past few seasons indicate that will be the case - then there is no reason a fully fit Watson can't become a 60/60 gun. At $537k he is well underpriced. Please now forget anything you ever read about Connor Watson.

RESERVE: Dylan Brown is set to snag the spot vacated by Corey Norman at the Eels. Basement price.

 

WINGS/CENTRES

Zac Lomax. Jarrod Croker, Jack Bird and Paul Momirovski make up a centre/wing that should generate some big money.
Zac Lomax. Jarrod Croker, Jack Bird and Paul Momirovski make up a centre/wing that should generate some big money.

Jarrod Croker │ $509,700 │ 13%

I don't think I've started a season without the most consistent CTW to ever play the game. Croker averaged 54 in 2018 before missing the last seven weeks of the season with that horror knee injury. Take away the five points he made in the match that caused that injury and his average bumps up to 57. Not bad for a centre in a team that was pretty bloody average last year. He kicks goals, is in POD territory and will hopefully return to the 2016 form that saw him average 71 points.

Jack Bird │ $320,900 │ 18%

The Broncos recruit played just eight games for his new club last year after returning late due to shoulder surgery before going down with a sternum injury. There had also been much conjecture about whether Bird would play lock for Brisbane but new coach Anthony Seibold has declared the ex-Shark will slot in at left centre. We know Bird can be a gun and I expect big things from him this year. Seibold is an attacking coach and we saw what he did with the Rabbitohs last year. That, coupled with an uninterrupted pre-season for Bird, should mean plenty of points.

Paul Momirovski │ $238,000 │ 5%

The freshly-minted Tiger has had a strong pre-season with his new club and all reports have him locking down a starting position. We saw what Momirovski was capable of last year when he was parachuted into the Roosters side during the finals. Momirovski scored a try on debut during the Roosters' round 18 clash with the Titans before playing just his second match during a grand final qualifier - where he again scored a try. He isn't a bottom-dollar cheapie but should generate some decent cash with a starting spot.

Zac Lomax │ $196,900 │ 54%

The most purchased man in SuperCoach looks set for a starting spot in the Dragons squad following the departures of Nene McDonald and Jason Nightingale. Lomax can kick goals when required and looked right at home when he filled in as an injury replacement for the Dragons in 2018. Another cheapie who should make a bunch of cash.

RESERVE: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Albert Hopoate and Cory Allan round out my CTW position cheapies. CNK looks set for the fullback position at the Raiders with Jack Wighton moving to the halves. The hype around Albert Hopoate has been huge so hopefully the kid gets a start to make some money. And all reports have the Rabbitohs fitting Cory Allen into the side somehow. He might not feature straight away but should feature at some point.

 

FULLBACKS

James Tedesco could be even better in 2019 with a full season with the new club under his belt. Picture: Getty
James Tedesco could be even better in 2019 with a full season with the new club under his belt. Picture: Getty

James Tedesco │ $689,000 │ 36%

I didn't want to stack my fullback position so had to toss up between Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic. Tedesco won in the end by virtue of the fact I already had Jake Trbojevic and Taupau in the side and I didn't want to load up on Sea Eagle players. Not that Tedesco is a downgrade. He took a while to warm into his new team last year but eventually hit his straps to claim a premiership. Three tons in the final seven rounds of the season, including a massive 180 against the Eels in round 25, put Teddy at a 73.6 average for the year. The Roosters have essentially strengthened their squad so there is no reason Tedesco can't repeat or better his 2018 performance now he's settled in.

RESERVE: A lot of people have gone the Tedesco-Trbojevic double but I've opted for Scott Drinkwater here in the hope he jags Billy Slater's gig. I want money.