SuperCoach champ makes big changes
SINCE my team reveal in January, like many of you out there I have been tweaking my side, making a number of changes looking for the perfect balance.
While I thought I had my team set, one fateful weekend of trials changed my team structure and the way I now plan to attack the season.
I would say that this carnage was unexpected, but weekends like these have occurred far too often through my time playing the game and now it just comes part and parcel of the game.
In saying that, I am thankful that this happened prior to round one kick-off or I would have been in Barney Rubble.
When picking your side, I believe you must consider injuries in your future plans. I generally put aside seven trades for injuries.
Remember when you think of trading (particularly when you are raging), consider how quickly injuries can deplete your trades. At this point of the season, trades are free and I have plenty of them, so let's get stuck in.
OUT: Victor Radley ($400,700)
IN: Josh Hodgson ($592,100)
There are a number of factors that could alter this prior to kick-off and that includes the Warriors' situation with Roache and Luke. However, as it stands, Hodgson gets the nod for now. Hodgson's base stats are not all that great at hooker, but despite this his attacking stats are terrific, and he sustains them at a decent output. Once again Canberra halves are shaky at best and Hodgson will be left to do some creative work around the ruck. The Raiders draw is favourable from last year's results. A final factor I love about Hodgson is that he plays round 12.
OUT: Tevita Pangai ($495,000), Dale Finucane ($432,900),
Payne Hass ($181,100), Taniela Paseka ($196,900)
IN: Andrew Fifita ($634,300) Martin Taupau ($605,100)
Blake Lawrie ($216,600)
A complete overhaul in my front row. While I love the potential of TPJ, his history of hamstring injuries and the fact he has had one already, and we aren't even at round one yet, is too much for me to take on. Even though, apparently, it's not as bad as first reported, it's enough to turn me off him. Finucane is collateral damage and while I still believe he is a solid option, going with double guns saves me trades in this position. Hass is suspended and I have traded Paseka as a place-holder and moved Kamikamica from second row up to take his spot, and I know he will definitely get some minutes.
2ND ROW FORWARDS
OUT: Cameron Murray ($458,900), Joe Stimson ($352,900)
IN: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (576,100), Briton Nikora ($168,100),
Hame Sele ($196,900)
Murray and Stimson both out with question marks now over their roles. Murray has Lowe at the burrow now but it wouldn't surprise me to see Lowe on, Burgess to lock and Murray off for an interchange. Joe Stimson may have NAS take his edge spot or rotate through there and he is a player who needs 80 minutes, so Munsters INC no longer require his services (NAS on that left edge makes Munster a bit more enticing though). I have also added Sele as a place-holder by moving Kamikamica to the front row.
OUT: Michael Morgan ($409,200), Chanel Harris-Tavita ($168,100)
IN: Nathan Cleary ($577,000), Adam Keighran ($168,100)
Getting rid of Morgan troubles me as I feel the Cowboys are the best pack in the competition and he will play well behind them. However, his replacement will be the leading scorer for the HFB position. I may find a different way to get Morgan in yet. In shocking news I have traded a rookie for a rookie who looks like he will actually get the nod.
OUT: Jaeman Salmon ($210,500)
IN: Dylan Brown ($168,100)
This doesn't require an explanation.
OUT: Kurt Mann ($258,900), Tom Opacic ($245,200),
Brad Abbey ($203,800), Mikaele Ravalawa ($168,100)
IN: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ($265,500),
Patrick Herbert ($168,100), Reuben Garrick ($168,100),
Corey Allan ($168,100)
All the outs are unlikely to lock down spots in their respective 17s, while CNK looks to have the Raiders' fullback position, Garrick may get a start with the injuries at Manly, Allan is firming to get a round one wing position with the Bunnies and Herbert is a placeholder who I think may force his way into the Warriors team sooner rather than later.
OUT: Tom Trbojevic ($691,200)
IN: Scott Drinkwater ($219,400)
Again, no explanation needed with Turbo injured and Drinkwater the frontrunner to be the Storm custodian. However, Bellamy could make a situation similar to that around the HFB spot last year. There is a chance I move Ponga to FLB, free some extra cash up and turn Drinkwater to Morgan.
Well if you are still with me after all those changes the new-look Munsters INC side looks something like this
Damien Cook ($726,000)
The most expensive player in the game, but well worth it when you consider he beat Jake Trbojevic (2nd) by 66 points playing one less game. He averaged 14 points more than his nearest hooking rival and that disparity in scoring won't be found in any other position.
While Wayne Bennett is a minor concern, he would be crazy to change Cook's game. The main benefit of starting with Cook though is that it's easier to downgrade if he fails, rather than scramble to upgrade to him if he kicks off with high scores. He will be in my side barring a second hooker being named in the team.
Josh Hodgson ($592,100)
His team's main attacking threat, has a friendly opening schedule and will play round 12. You could lock Hodgson in until after the Origin period and then assess if he is scoring well enough or use him to trade to a gun in a different position.
Andrew Fifita ($634,300)
Fifita came into my side after the All-Stars game. He looked to be in great form. He is a certainty to finish in the top two scoring FRFs and is a set and forget from the start. There is something comforting knowing you don't have to worry about a spot for the season (barring injury, touch wood).
Martin Taupau ($605,100)
Same as Fifita, I expect him to finish in the other spot in the top two. I won't use any other FRF as a scoring player in my 17 and with these two this position is set.
Blake Lawrie ($216,600)
At the time of writing, I have just heard the decision to suspend JDB. So welcome to my side Lawrie. He looked good in the trial and am expecting him to get more minutes. Hopefully by the time Hass comes back and is ready to rise, Lawrie has made a bit and you can make some cash off him.
Tui Kamikamica ($196,900)
2ND ROW FORWARDS
Jake Trbojevic ($667,600)
Jurbo without his brother last year scored two x 50s and one x 120 and I know which I think is the outlier. Not having Tom to start is definitely going to affect Jake, mainly in his attacking stats. You will be able to pick him up cheaper prior to the Origin period if that is your tactic.
I still think I will start with him as I believe he is a trade out over Origin and will get a bigger workload this year. Therefore, I don't want to trade him in, out and in again. He is a downgrade option if I decide to get Morgan. If this occurs though, I wouldn't get him until after Origin and I think he could hurt you not having him until then.
Angus Crichton ($646,900)
A 52-base scoring edge second rower who has also shown that he can break the line and score tries. Yes please. While his scoring and evasive stats were down last year in comparison to his 2017 campaign, Crichton remains a dangerous ball runner who will now be running off Cooper Cronk. Go and have a look at what Cronk did for both Tohu Harris and Felise Kaufusi at the Storm. Don't give me the "He's at a new club it will take time to gel" line. Cronk is arguably a top-five halfback to ever play the game. He will have it sorted and Crichton will be humming from round one.
Jai Arrow ($598,000)
The bloke was playing busted for a large part of 2018 and still pumped out 60s for fun. Possibly the only player in the league who likes defending more than running the ball. Despite his injuries he still averaged 55 MPG at a very respectable 1.17 PPM.
Arrow crossed for only three tries but he can break a tackle and doesn't mind an offload to go along with his handy base scoring. He should play 55-60 minutes and barring injury I think will be a top-10 scoring player by the end of the year.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon (576,100)
Fitzgibbon needs attacking stats, but I think Ponga will help him get them. They are developing a wonderful connection down that left-hand edge. The Knights have a fair draw and will be a top-eight team. The news of Taumalolo to the edge may change this, but Fitzy currently gets the nod.
Briton Nikora ($168,100)
Is better than Sorenson and Capewell so should be named. He was a standout when Morris coached the Sharks juniors to the grand final in 2017. Morris knows what he will provide and will give him his chance.
Hame Sele ($196,900)
No Kikau provides someone with an opportunity and this bloke will do until we know more come team list Tuesday.
Nathan Cleary ($577,000)
Will be the top scoring halfback. Possibly highest overall points scorer this year and I will lock him in. Concerns that with no Kikau it takes away from his arsenal, but the left side is still dangerous and will give him plenty of options.
Adam Keighran ($168,100)
Kalyn Ponga ($614,300)
I didn't own him last year and every time he took the field, I was having heart palpitations. The kid is an absolute freak. I don't care about his stats - I just know they were good and a year under his belt he is capable of more. He is in my team.
Dylan Brown ($168,100)
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ($265,500)
Awkward price but looks to have the fullback gig for the Raiders. Again a good draw so could jag a pie or two early.
Zac Lomax ($196,900)
This kid is quality and will definitely have a spot on the Dragons' backline somewhere. His best position is fullback and I can't wait until he finally gets his opportunity there. For now, I will take him in my centre wing spot for cheap.
Albert Hopoate ($168,100)
Has good family genes for the game and partners with a freak at fullback who can create for anyone on the team. If Hoppa can lock down the wing spot, he should reap the benefits.
Bronson Xerri ($168,100)
He is one of the guys I mentioned I don't mind taking a punt on if I think he will get a spot at some stage through the season. A favourite junior of Flanno's, who said he would have blooded him if NRL rules allowed (who knows if this opinion is shared by Morris?). But a kid who played both 18 and 20s Origin in the same year before scoring a hat-trick in his first taste of big boys footy, he should get a start at some stage. Until then can be used for loop purposes.
Reuben Garrick ($168,100)
With the injuries at Manly, Garrick should get a start and he is a good prospect.
Corey Allan ($168,100)
Looks to have sewn up the wing spot for now with the Rabbits.
Patrick Herbert ($168,100)
Had a great trial and I don't think those in front of him have been performing or will perform well enough to stop him debuting this year.
James Tedesco ($689,000)
The fourth-highest scoring player of 2018. There is nowhere on the field he can't score from and he has a nose for sniffing gaps. The fact he is on the best attacking team in the comp helps, though it's not needed as he showed in his time at the Tigers. Tedesco will be near the top of SuperCoach scoring again in the 2019 season
Scott Drinkwater ($219,400)
He looked good in his debut last year and is a great prospect. The changing of the guard in Melbourne is throwing a spanner in the works. Hopefully Bellamy will give him time to find his feet. I have questions over that though and as such, I haven't penned this in just yet and may change before round one.