SuperCoach Scout: Newcastle Knights
AT LONG last there is some excitement and buzz in the air at Newcastle.
The Knights' faithful have shown up in droves through years of bottom-eight suffering, and it looks as though now they finally have the squad to make an impact.
A fully fit Mitchell Pearce is a massive plus for the side and he will be accompanied by the Dally M runner up of 2018, Kalyn Ponga. And what a player Ponga is: electric, tough as teeth and driven to win.
What is incredibly exciting for Newcastle this year is the players they've brought in. Arguably the best prop in the game in David Klemmer and up-and-coming centre gun Jessie Ramien really boost the starting side. Underrated signings of James Gavet, Tim Glasby and Mason Lino also give real depth to the squad - something that has been lacking in the past for the Knights.
While they have the side on the paper to make the top eight, all will be revealed in due time.
Unlike some other teams in the comp, the Knights have a plethora of premium options across all price brackets in SuperCoach this year. A blend of youth and experience, these are the players who we think could have the biggest impact in your teams this year by either picking them or perhaps staying clear for now!
In: Jesse Ramien (Cronulla Sharks), Edrick Lee (Cronulla Sharks), Mason Lino (New Zealand Warriors), Zac Woolford (Canterbury Bulldogs), James Gavet (New Zealand Warriors), Tim Glasby (Melbourne Storm), David Klemmer (Canterbury Bulldogs), Hymel Hunt (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Kurt Mann (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Out: Brock Lamb (Sydney Roosters), Chris Heighington (retired), Jacob Lillyman (retired), Jack Cogger (Canterbury Bulldogs), Nick Meaney (Canterbury Bulldogs), Ken Sio (Salford Red Devils), Cory Denniss (South Sydney Rabbitohs), JJ Collins (Canberra Raiders), Luke Yates (London Broncos), Pat Mata'utia (unsigned)
THE GUN: KALYN PONGA | $614,300 | 65.7 2018 Avg.
Kalyn Ponga's arrival to the Newcastle Knights in 2018 was exactly what the club, town and rugby league as a whole needed. He's a freak.
At 20 years of age he is one of those rare players who just seems faster, stronger and more agile than nearly every opponent he comes up against. While I would love to see him run around again at fullback, it seems that a shift to No.6 is almost a certainty.
Although he didn't look great for the Maori All Stars in that position, we can assume he'll be far more comfortable with his known structures and combinations with Newcastle.
It's also exciting that Ponga is most likely to pick-up the goal kicking duties. This coupled along with another 10 or so added tackles in defence due to being up in the line, and it's hard to see Ponga not hit his average or go better.
At $614,300 he's the most expensive half in the comp, and with the new switch to six many have left him out believe he will lose cash. While this may be the case, it's a certainty that if you don't select him, your blood pressure will rise every time he gets the ball in his hands. A coin-flip in my opinion, if you love watching him play, get him in and enjoy the ride.
THE VALUE PICK: TIM GLASBY |$364,900 | 39.0 avg.
Making the move from the Melbourne Storm, Tim Glasby could find himself slotting straight into the starting side at lock.
He averaged 39 minutes per game last year, but if Glasby nails down the No.13 he should see a minimum of 50 minutes in this exciting new Knights side.
With an average ppm of 1.03 over the past four years, this increase of minutes could have Glasby averaging around the low 50s - raising his price by around the 140k mark.
By no means a keeper, but he could be a nice risk early to either upgrade to a keeper or a booming cheapie when the money's made. Two per cent ownership, so could be a solid and most importantly different option to start your classic season or a late selection for those playing draft.
POINT OF DIFFERENCE: CONNOR WATSON | $537,100 | 57.4 Avg.
At only 3% ownership and available at both five eighth and fullback, Connor Watson could be the cheeky POD to get your season off to a flyer.
He had seven tries, four try assists and five linebreak assists from 15 games last season, and his pace and athletic ability proved to be a handful at times.
Watson will be relishing a switch to fullback, which in my opinion is a big plus for his SuperCoach average. While Watson was tidy in the halves, truth be told he is an out-and-out ball runner.
With Pearce and Ponga feeding him good ball in space, and talented outside backs such as Jessie Ramien and Tautau Moga now available, Watson could be a 60 plus SuperCoach point player.
The most exciting SuperCoach stat for Watson could be that in the 12 games in which he played 80 minutes, he scored under 40 only once and averaged a premium score of 65.3. Nice and different player to separate yourself from the crowd!
PLAYERS TO AVOID: DAVID KLEMMER | $538,500 | 57.5 avg. and HERMAN ESE'ESE | $515,100 | 55.0 avg.
These are tough avoids, seeing as I think these two are the most exciting and talented prop pairing in rugby league.
As Cooper Cronk will tell you though, sometimes the best players don't translate to the best SuperCoach scorers.
While I do think that both will average around the 55-point mark again, their selection for me isn't warranted with 55 being a bit short of that premium score mark.
Klemmer, who led a very underwhelming Bulldogs middle last season, had to endure some big shifts and minutes, and in my opinion won't be required as often in this Knights side. With really quality middle men such as James Gavet, Aidan Guerra and the Saifiti brothers all likely to be on the bench, I think both will average 50-odd minutes, with the big 70-minute games required to pump up averages a real rarity.
THE CHEAPIE: KURT MANN | $258,900 | 27.7 Avg.
With over 27% ownership for the new Newcastle Knight, Kurt Mann is sitting as the 11th most selected player for NRL SuperCoach 2019.
With word that Mann will start at hooker, many coaches are hoping that 60 minutes plus will be given, in which case his $258,000 price tag would almost certainly be boosted.
Playing 11 games last year for the Dragons for 25 minutes or under, Mann will be raring to go and there's no better place to find yourself amongst it than hooker.
Big problem though is question of minutes. Hooker is a notoriously tough role and with Danny Levi and Jamie Buhrer able to slot in, I think Mann could be a potential trap.
If he plays 80 minutes he could be the buy of the season, but if coach Nathan Brown puts Levi or Buhrer on the bench, it'll be a stay clear for me. If you do choose to select him, I definitely think it's a better option putting him in your centres than at hooker!