At RFS headquarters we often talk about players of yesteryear and what sort of fantasy players they would be. Considering our love of sporting pomp and pageantry a Fantasy Hall of Fame was always something we wanted to do.
But we didn’t have the statistics to back up any of our thoughts. Until now. Thanks to NRL.com loading player stats all the way back to 2005 (which they have since removed again) we are now in the position to create a real, legitimate NRL Fantasy Hall of Fame (well sort of real and sort of legitimate in the sense that they aren’t legitimate).
Before we induct our inaugural Hall of Fame class here are a few guiding principles:
● All players must be retired.
● All players must have played a minimum of 41 games in the period we have data, and yes I did manipulate that number from the original number so I could include one player.
● Players that score significantly above other players are looked upon very favourably so a CTR might have averaged less than a FRF or HOK but by virtue of being a CTR they could still be more valuable and Hall of Fame worthy.
Along with Cam Smith, CP13 is the greatest NRL Fantasy player in history and that makes him a first ballot RFS NRL Fantasy player. As a fantasy player, he had everything: a goal kicking forward, that played big minutes and very rarely got injured. His raw stats are incredible – 265 games, 15,335 fantasy points at an average of 57.87. Between 2006 and 2015 he reeled off ten consecutive seasons averaging above 50 fantasy points.
We know him as a prolific offloader but it wasn’t until part way through his career that this trait really started to pop out. Parker debuted four years before we have stats but in the first five seasons we do he averaged about 1.16 offloads a game, in the last seven seasons he almost doubled this figure to 2.21 offloads per game. Parker’s 8,946 tackles since 2005 place him behind only Cam Smith for the most in this period and that comes out at a very robust 34 tackles a game.
Parker’s peak seasons came in 2010 and 2011 when he averaged 71.67 and 75.67 points per game, both of which were good enough to be the highest average in the competition, in fact 75.67 points per game is the highest averaging season ever. He added a third fantasy scoring title in 2015 to cement his greatness.
We will miss you CP13.
After a nightmare 2016 finally Eels’ fans have something to feel good about: the induction of Nathan Hindmarsh to the RFS NRL Fantasy Hall of Fame. Congrats Eels’ fans.
Hindy was the ultimate tackling machine. His 42.97 tackles per game is the best there is and he was also capable of adding some offloads and tackle breaks when it was required. Those stat categories propped him up to a 57.26 average in his 183 games; good enough for fourth all time. He averaged over 50 fantasy points a game in all eight seasons we have stats. We can add a fantasy scoring title to the list of things that Hindmarsh never won but he did come 2nd twice (once to Justin Hodges of all people) and 3rd in a golden period between 2005 and 2007.
Fitzgibbon was the upper middle class man’s Corey Parker. He was a high minute, goal kicking forward that didn’t touch CP13’s heights but was ultra-consistent across his five seasons averaging: 54.13, 52.27, 54.91, 50.00 and 50.27. That 52.38 average puts him in the same range as current fantasy legend Shaun Fensom and is good for 8th all time.
Fitzgibbon didn’t have a signature fantasy season and that probably leads to some people underrating his contributions, a bit like he’s perhaps a bit underrated in real life, but his consistency puts his career average just behind Shaun Fensom and ahead of Sam Burgess and Andrew Fifita. He belongs.
Campese’s NRL Fantasy career was marred by injuries but when he was fully fit his status as a gun HLF was almost unmatched. In the glory days of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Campese would average 55, 59, and 57 and undoubtedly if it wasn’t for injuries he would be in the discussion as the greatest fantasy HLF we’ve seen, as it stands he trails only Cherry-Evans, Reynolds, Thurston and Johnson in the list.
Campese did a bit of everything well as a fantasy HLF. He had a complete kicking game, could run the ball and managed his share of try assists. One other point in Campese’s favour is he elevated Jamie Soward to another level and their fantasy rivalry between 2008 and 2011 brought out the best in Soward as he averaged over 57 for each of those four seasons.
We had to fit a DPP player in somewhere and although most of us remember the tail end of Gidley’s career when he was useless, he was a fantasy boss between 2005 and 2011. In 125 games during this period Gidley averaged 50.5 points.
Gidley finished his career with HOK/HLF DPP but in the earlier phase of his career he would have had a HLF/WFB DPP and getting a guy averaging over 50 at WFB with some DPP action is gold dust in NRL Fantasy.
Gasnier’s numbers are insane when you consider he was a fantasy CTR. In 99 games, he averaged 50.04 points while breaking 4.66 tackles per game. It took me a while to scroll through the records to find the next best predominantly CTR fantasy player but it is probably Israel Folou who averaged 42.42, which really highlights the gulf in class between Gasnier and everyone else.
To further put it into context how good Gasnier was: Jarrod Croker just had an outstanding season for a fantasy CTR and he only averaged just over 47. Gasnier averaged over 47 in four of his six seasons we have on record.
Gasnier was absolute fire in 2006/07 when he averaged 57.74 in 23 games in 2006 and 61.83 in an injury shortened 2007 (six games played). In those 29 games Gasnier had 185 tackle breaks, 6.4 tackle breaks a game!
I had to break my rules to include Schifcoske. Schifcoske only played 42 games in the period but he averaged 48.43 in those games and considering they came at the tail end of his career and after his best NRL seasons in 2001 and 2004 it seems appropriate the Schifcoske get some consideration for the years we don’t have numbers just as much as those that we do.
Schifcoske was a run metre and tackle break monster. Schifcoske had the most run metres in 2006 and was 6th in 2005. He also managed to rack up 4.83 tackle breaks per game which only trails Nathan Gardner, Josh Dugan, Wade McKinnon and Justin Hodges. Of course, Schifcoske had one more string to his bow: his goal kicking. He added 134 goals in 2005 and 2006 and would have been a fantasy must have.
Soward’s run between 2008 and 2011 is impossible to ignore and his numbers would probably be even more impressive if we had kick metres for 2005, 2006 and 2007.
During those four fabulous years Soward averaged 58, 68, 57 and 57 thanks mainly to scoring almost 25 points a game in kick metres. Soward also averaged 40 in 2007 with no kick metres so it isn’t unreasonable to think he would have averaged close to 60 if they had been included that year.
Soward’s 2009 season deserves further exploration because it was one of the top five fantasy seasons on record. That season Soward averaged 68.62 while scoring 12 tries, setting up 27 more and having some very useful line break and line break assist numbers. Combine that with 518 kick metres per game and you have a historically great season, although Robbie Farrah just beat him out for the scoring title averaging 71.76.
I’d like to congratulate this seasons inductees: Corey Parker, Nathan Hindmarsh, Craig Fitzgibbon, Terry Campese, Kurt Gidley, Mark Gasnier, Clinton Schifcoske and Jamie Soward.