Renegades Team

Renegades Team

The Renegades Writers combine passion for the game, with a lack of editorial oversight. When they aren't next to the water cooler bitching about that try assist the stats guys missed, they are churning out sports articles that have been widely touted as "readable".

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 11:00

Knees, knees, knees

Well, the first few games of the season have seen my colleagues in the sporting teams see more medial knees than a rabid gynaecologist. The revolving door here at the clinic is spinning so fast from all of these new patients that it’s causing more wind than a coeliac at a beans convention. From the unluckiest Ben to ever lace on some boots, to the blue and white’s go to hooker, and the green machine’s Miami Vice villain, this weekend’s knee injuries have had huge impacts on not only your favourite club, but your fantasy team as well. The aim here is to provide some fact checked medical information rather than rumours upon rumours, and trading advice should be left mostly to the experts in the Bosses or Reg himself. But I will give you my impressions here also.

Whilst we are still waiting on concrete information to come from some scans and medical specialists’ opinions, it would be a huge mistake to trade on only half the information. A wise old man once said “Bad decisions are made in information vacuums”. In other words, let all the information come to you before you pull the trigger on Lichaa, Austin, or any of the other multitudes of injured players. Although, not many of you should have Austin after he was named on the bench.

Austin’s halves partner is also looking likely to get a few weeks in the sick bay if scans show a fractured cheekbone or eye socket. Keep an eye out for replacements here. If both are out, there could be an opportunity for yet another cash cow half. But the recommendation is to leave this situation well alone. Williams is ready for play after a minor illness put him out and a fractured cheekbone is a few weeks out at most.

Blake Austin, who is not greatly fantasy relevant this season, looked like he picked up a medial ligament strain, which hopefully only keeps him out for a short period of time. Again, await scan results and advice on how long he’s out. There are zero fantasy opportunities here; please stay away from Canberra halves.

Ben Henry looks to have sustained a dislocated kneecap, which doesn’t necessarily cause too many issues on its own. But with his history of knee injury and also a ruptured quadriceps to go along with it, expect a lengthy time out (expected to be the season). I will be trading him out for another base price CTR opportunity or Auva’a at some point in the hope that they get good time on the park this season.

The one we are all sweating on, however, is Dog’s hooker and all round gun, Michael Lichaa. His knee injury appeared minor at first glance, as he was able to play through for quite some time and it appeared to worsen with cooling down. This seems consistent with medial collateral ligament strain and can be managed with strapping and quad strengthening. How will this affect his points in the interim though?

The trouble with strapping an injury like this (which was mentioned by Lichaa) is that strapping provides some minor skin traction to help stabilise a joint when cold and dry. And after a certain amount of time, it is expected that strapping will loosen due to heat and sweat. In the midst of a game of NRL, the players’ leg muscles will be at their largest and most tense, meaning that the joint will be well protected and secure. IF he is able to secure this joint with tape, he will still progress to being an 80 minute hooker and therefore a keeper this season.

The choice will be whether you are willing to cop a couple of lower scores when it gives way or pull the trigger on him now before any value is lost. I tossed a coin and chose Peats as my second hooker by sheer dumb luck instead of Lichaa, but I wouldn’t trade him out on that one performance, unless we get concrete information about how severe this injury is. It seems as though he may be out for a few weeks definitely as of Monday morning, so is probably a trade out. Peats is probably the best option if you are pulling the trigger on him. His 60 tackle effort was immense.

The other option at that price range is Segeyaro, who also sustained a serious injury. He suffered a broken arm at some point in the game. But being the tough little bugger he is, he stayed on for quite some time and just continued playing. This should keep him out for 6-8 weeks, but with Seggy, it wouldn’t surprise me if he chucks a brace on it and suits up in 3. If you have both Lichaa and Seggy, you are in a world of hurt, and should be trading them out this week.

Paul Gallen has also picked up a knee injury which looks like his standard, yearly, pre origin injury. Don’t go believing half assed injury reports that reckon he is retiring because of this. Wait until you hear the bloke himself announce anything as ridiculous or monumental as that. That said, he is still a trade out, because this injury will all but have him out until origin, and you can only imagine he will pick up another during origin and be out again for a little longer.

The ability of these guys to play through pain is massive. I can’t believe Seggy was defending grimly with a broken bone in his arm. The amount of pain that must have caused is mind boggling. I might even take to showing this game in the waiting room of ED, just to confirm that pain may not be 11 out of 10 from the guy with the phone still glued to his ear. This is also true for Adam Reynolds, who broke his jaw on Kane Evans’ rock hard ass. He then sat calmly on the bench with not even an ice pack, before heading off to hospital for X-Rays. He’s looking at 6-8 weeks off too: with not many other halves at Souths, this looks a prime time to bring in cash cow Cody Walker, who will surely get some decent time on the field.

Other injuries to minor players that may have some effect is a medial ligament strain (4 weeks) for Jordan Kahu, which may see Eden get more of a run despite his all-round crap performance. Brett Stewart’s late pull out due to a hamstring complaint gave Tom Turbo another crack at fullback. Others checking into the clinic this week should include a few stars and also rans looking to get back on to the paddock. Watch out for Munster, Clydesdale, McDonald, Watmough, Norman, Foran, Frizell, Moylan, and Halatau in case they are named on Tuesday. FWIW, I am sticking with Moeroea in the time being because no matter what, he will play decent minutes as Watmough’s career winds down.

Below, a complete injury and suspension list as it stands Monday 7th March morning. Watch also for guys returning from suspension and remember, I’m the doctor, you can trust me. Especially for injuries. Trade advice: stick with Reg and the Bosses for the general health and well-being of your team.

Phew, I think it’s time for two Panadols and a lie down!

Broncos: Lachlan Maranta (wrist, Round 7), Jack Reed (shoulder, Round 2), Carlin Anderson (stomach, indefinite), Jordan Kahu (quad, TBA)

Raiders: Adam Clydesdale (shoulder, Round 2-3), Blake Austin (knee, TBA), Aidan Sezer (cheek, TBA)

Bulldogs: Brett Morris (knee, late season), David Klemmer (suspension, Round 2), Chase Stanley (cork, TBA), Michael Lichaa (knee, TBA)

Sharks: Mitch Brown (ribs, indefinite), Paul Gallen (knee, TBA)

Titans: Kane Elgey (ACL, season), Luke Douglas (suspension, Round 2), Nene Macdonald (knee, Round 2), Nathaniel Peteru (knee, Round 4)

Sea Eagles: Jamie Buhrer (jaw, indefinite), Jayden Hodges (ACL, season), Brett Stewart (hamstring, TBA)

Storm: Cameron Munster (knee, Round 2), Cheyse Blair (foot, indefinite)

Knights: Sione Mata'utia (suspension, Round 2), Tariq Sims (suspension, Round 6), James McManus (concussion, season)

Cowboys: Ray Thompson (ankle, mid-season), Tautau Moga (ACL, indefinite), Antonio Winterstein (head, TBA)

Eels: Anthony Watmough (knee/shoulder, Round 2), Corey Norman (neck, Round 2), Kieran Foran (hamstring, Round 2)

Panthers: Matt Moylan (back, Round 2-3), George Jennings (shoulder, Round 3), Sione Katoa (knee, Round 3), James Segeyaro (arm, TBA)

Rabbitohs: Luke Keary (suspension, Round 2) Tom Burgess (leg, Round 7), George Burgess (suspension, Round 2), Adam Reynolds (jaw, TBA), John Sutton (pec, TBA)

Dragons: Mose Masoe (ACL, indefinite), Dylan Farrell (back, indefinite), Yaw Kiti Glymin (hamstring, indefinite), Tyson Frizell (back, Round 1)

Roosters: Boyd Cordner (pectoral, Round 11), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee, Round 11), Mitchell Pearce (stood down, Round 9)

Warriors: Thomas Leuluai (ACL, Round 5), Henare Wells (hamstring, Round 3), Ligi Sao (shoulder, indefinite), Ben Henry (knee, TBA)

Wests Tigers: Robbie Farah (knee, Round 4-6), Matt Ballin (knee, Round 10), Luke Brooks (suspension, Round 2), Dene Halatau (suspension, knee, Round 2), Justin Hunt (back, indefinite), Joel Edwards (hamstring, Round 2), Bayley Sironen (foot, Round 2)

Monday, 07 March 2016 11:00

Late Mail Busters - Round 1

Round 1 of the NRL is in the books. There were some excellent performances, and some not so excellent performances. There were team changes, and there was Late Mail and that Late Mail is what I’m here to break down today.

Late Mail Busters was served a curly one early on. Lachlan Fitzgibbon in 16 for the Knights, with Daniel Saifiti wearing jersey number 18. However, it was found Saifiti was in the original 17, with the Newcastle Knights Wardrobe Department apparently getting the size of the #16 jersey wrong. It was also found that don’t publish their Late Mail until Friday. As overall success rates are expressed as percentages, Late Mail Busters decided that the NRL Late Mail would not be included in Thursday calculations.

Late Mail Busters is also keeping an eye on Eric Grothe Jnr’s YouTube show, as he was dead on with his two tweeted changes. But spot callers are not what Late Mail Busters is about, it is about those willing to go on public record with all team changes for the whole round.

So here’s a look at Round 1. The full rundown can be found here, but the key points are that it is Late Mail as of 6 p.m., Friday, and due to the vague language used by the Late Mail sources, there is a somewhat subjective interpretation applied. The categories that player reports fall in to is also defined in the introduction article. So, with all that said, let’s get into it:

Game 1: Eels v Knights

Eels team changes were Kieran Foran out, replaced by Luke Kelly, and Kaysa Pritchard onto the bench for David Gower.

NRL Late Mail: As mentioned above, no results for NRL Late Mail.

News Ltd Late Mail: Reported Foran as in doubt, with Luke Kelly as replacement. No report of the Pritchard/Gower swap.

Wackos Whispers: Reported Foran as out, with Luke Kelly as replacement. Suggested Pritchard would come onto bench, but at the expense of Ken Edwards or Peni Terepo.

Game 2: Sea Eagles v Bulldogs

Team changes for the Sea Eagles were Brett Stewart out, with Tom Trbojevic shifting from wing to fullback, and Brayden Williame coming in. Siosaia Vave onto the bench for Feleti Mateo. For the Bulldogs, Lloyd Perrett came onto the bench, replacing Danny Fualalo.

NRL Late Mail: Reported Mateo as out, with Stewart in extreme doubt. Correctly nominated Vave as Mateo’s replacement, and the shift of Trbojevic to fullback. They did miss out on Williame as the replacement, suggesting Halauafu Lavaka or Fabian Goodall as the replacement, and did not report on a possible bench change for the Bulldogs.

News Ltd Late Mail: Pretty much the same as NRL Late Mail, with the difference being minor in that they reported Mateo as in doubt, rather than definitely out.

Wacko’s Whispers: Wacko’s reported the Sea Eagles changes exactly as NRL Late Mail did. They also suggested a rumoured change with Shaun Lane coming onto the bench for Adam Elliot as unlikely, so they score there. They also missed the Perret/Fualalo switch though.


Game 3: Raiders v Panthers

The Raiders lost Sam Williams to illness, with Blake Austin moving from the bench to starting five-eighth, and Kurt Baptiste coming into the 17. Anthony Griffin jettisoned Elijah Taylor from the Panthers 17 to NSW Cup and brought James Fisher-Harris onto the bench.

NRL Late Mail:  Suggested that Fisher-Harris would come in at the expense of Taylor. No changes reported for the Raiders.

News Ltd Late Mail: Reported both teams would be 1-17.

Wacko’s Whispers: Also reported both teams would be 1-17.

Game 4: Tigers v Warriors

Jason Taylor at his best here. Brought Lovett into the starting second row, shifted Lawrence (kind of) to the halves, with Jack Littlejohn playing dummy half. Mania Cherrington dropped from starting line up to the bench. The Warriors started James Gavet, switching Ben Matulino to the bench.

NRL Late Mail: Very nearly scored with the Tigers team changes. Ruined it for themselves though, as after mentioning the change, linked their article about Cherrington playing 80 minutes. No changes reported for the Warriors.

News Ltd Late Mail: No changes reported for anyone, instead focusing on how secure Jordan Rankin’s job might be.

Wacko’s Whispers. Mentioned the rumoured team changes for the Tigers, but also reported they would likely be 1-17. No mention of the Warriors changes though.

Game 5: Cowboys v Sharks

Only change was for the Sharks. Matt Prior and Sam Tagatese were switched, with Prior starting and Tagatese dropping to the bench.

NRL Late Mail: No changes reported.

News Ltd Late Mail: No changes reported.

Wacko’s Whispers: No changes reported.

Game 6: Roosters v Rabbitohs

Roosters’ winger Daniel Tupou was ruled out with injury, and replaced by Joe Burgess. No changes for the Rabbitohs.

NRL Late Mail: Reported Tupou as likely out, to be replaced by Burgess.

News Ltd Late Mail: Reported the same as NRL Late Mail.

Wacko’s Whispers: Also reported the Tupou/Burgess change.

Game 7: Titans v Knights

Titans’ fullback William Zillman was withdrawn due to injury. David Mead switched from wing to fullback, with John Olive coming into the team on the wing. Knights appeared as named 1-17, but with Daniel Saifiti wearing #18.

NRL Late Mail: Listed Zillman as in doubt. Correctly suggested Mead would go to fullback, but did not score full points as they nominated either Olive or Leva Li as the possible replacement.

News Ltd Late Mail: Reported the same changes and possible replacements as NRL Late Mail.

Wacko’s Whispers. Wacko’s confidently predicted that Li was not in consideration for Zillman’s withdrawal, only mentioning Olive as the replacement. But, they did suggest Li may come in for Anthony Don who was in doubt.

Game 8: Storm v Dragons

The Storm had a couple of changes. Ben Hampton was bumped from the bench for Felise Kaufusi, and Cameron Munster was a late inclusion, replacing Richie Kennar. The Dragons lost Joel Thompson from the starting side, with Jack De Belin moving from the bench to the starting side, and Tyson Frizzel coming onto the bench.

NRL Late Mail: Reported Hampton would be dropped, but that Nelson Asofa-Solomona would come onto the bench. No reports regarding Munster coming in, and also expected the Dragons to be 1-17.

News Ltd Late Mail: Similar report to NRL Late Mail, but they didn’t take a chance on guessing the replacement for Hampton.

Wacko’s Whispers: Same report as NRL Late Mail

The Scores:

NRL Late Mail

He’s Out Of Here: 20% (1 from 5)

There’s A Feeling: 100% (5 from 5)

Plans May Change: none

Nothing To See Here: none

Musical Chairs: 16.7% (2 from 12)

The Replacements: 36.4% (4 from 11)

OVERALL: 36.4% (12 from 33)

News Ltd Late Mail

He’s Out Of Here: 0% (0 from 6)

There’s A Feeling: 100% (6 from 6)

Plans May Change: none

Nothing To See Here: none

Musical Chairs: 16.7% (2 from 12)

The Replacements: 28.6% (4 from 14)

OVERALL: 31.6% (12 from 38)

Wacko’s Whispers

He’s Out Of Here: 42.9% (3 from 7)

There’s A Feeling: 50% (3 from 6)

Plans May Change: 0% (0 from 2)

Nothing To See Here: none

Musical Chairs: 16.7% (2 from 12)

The Replacements: 33.3% (5 from 15)

OVERALL: 31% (13 from 42)

So after Round 1, all the Late Mail sources score similarly overall. Obviously it’s early in the season, but the NRL Late Mail site has an early lead, and was very close to having the Wests Tigers changes ruled in their favour. This would have extended the lead by a long way. Still, they missed out, but no results really fill you with confidence. Round 2 is just around the corner, and with the heavy injury toll, Late Mail Busters expects a pretty hectic round of games.

We’ll see you next week for the next edition of Late Mail Busters. Keep the faith…. 

Friday, 04 March 2016 11:00

Fluke or For Real: Manu Ma'u

Our first Fluke or For Real of the year looks at the Parramatta wrecking ball Manu Ma’u who racked up 66 points on the first night against the Broncos. With his price set to rise to just under $390,000 you probably need Ma’u to be a 50+ point player to justify a trade. He only has 2.3% ownership and good byes, so people are more than likely going to be sniffing around this beast. So we asked the writers: Is Manu Ma’u a 50+ point player? Fluke or For Real?

Renegade Tipster

Real deal. Playing next to Foran, Jennings and Radradra on the outside there's line breaks tackle busts and try assets galore. FOR REAL

Thomas Mesaglio

Yes he won't get that many offloads/TBs every week, but he also didn't get any tries/LBs, which is bound to happen once Norman and Foran are both playing 80. He also only made 32 tackles, which is liable to increase if any teams send a lot more traffic down his side. FOR REAL


Every mid-ranger can have his day. Ma’u has been a mid-ranger for two years. He’s a 40-45 point player. FLUKE

Glenn O'Callahan 

Last night's performance was nothing that we thought he could and should achieve. Sure there were extra tackle breaks and offloads but not that many more than normal that it skews the stats considerably. FOR REAL

Steve Nicholls

The 66 Ma’u produced was super impressive but even though it was tryless that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fluke stats in there. Ma’u had five offloads and five tackle breaks, last year when he played 80 minutes he averaged 0.8 offloads and 1.6 tackle breaks a game. Do you trust a one game sample or a 15 game sample? The effort Ma’u put in is great for his current owners but people rushing to use a trade to get him might have a rude shock if he can’t sustain those offloads and tackle breaks. I'd consider him if I was forced to trade for an injury or something but otherwise I don't like forcing it. FLUKE


With Watmough gone Eels are going to play him for 80 minutes, no doubt. He looks even hungrier than last year and is going to be breaking tackles like Gratwick breaks girls hearts. Get him in ASAP. FOR REAL


Damaging ball runner has proven in the last few years he has what it takes to go to the next level. He’s worth his price tag and you can lock him in to play all three big bye rounds. FOR REAL


He won’t average 50+ from now on. 25 points from tackle bust and offloads, this won’t happen all season, he average 43 in his last five games last year which was above season average. A further 7 point jump seems unlikely. His minutes were probably inflated a little with the rotation out of whack due to the injury to Norman. It may be close but with the bar at 50 I believe he will be under. You definitely can't justify a trade to get him. FLUKE

Tom Vaughan

He definitely will have more 50+ weeks to come but will end up with an averaging less than 50, could be a handy player for bye rounds if that's when his big scores come but I would wait another week. FLUKE


Won't get 5 tackle breaks and 5 offloads in every game. Nuff said. Mic drop. Stunned crowd. FLUKE

Tuesday, 01 March 2016 11:00

Q & A with Reg Renegade

After a long off season, it starts tomorrow and I am seriously barred up! After some long and protracted discussions we were sadly left on the bench this season. After dominating Lone Scout the backlash is we cannot grace your leagues so easily this year, being stripped of our “celebrity” status, although you’ll find me at the top of the overall table.

We will be endeavouring to help everyone in Renegades to improvem and rank higher than ever in 2016! So after TLT will do a Q&A each week, so feel free to ask questions and lets all kick Lone Scouts Arse!!

Rank the WFB and CTR cashies. Steve Nicholls

Obviously if you haven’t read it already I would start with the Booker Prize winner this year The Fantasy Prospectus found at But my Top 5 WFB are Jaelen Feeney, Latrell Mitchell, Ben Barba, Clint Gutherson, Greg Eden. Top 5 CTR options are Ben Henry, Hymel Hunt, Nathan Davis, Nathan Green, Jack Littlejohn.

Jayden Nikorima at hooker or half? Thomas Mesaglio

Depends on your make up? I prefer at half. Remember once Pearce is back you will be looking to upgrade him. So ask yourself in six weeks will he make enough to straight swap for a decent hooker or will it cost another trade?

Plenty of players around the $300k mark (Whitehead, Sue, Paasi, McQueen, Grant) all playing. Can't bloody figure out which will go better. Got Evans though. Daniel Moy

Yeah it’s a bit of a darts job. Don’t dismiss Myles either he looks set for big minutes. Briefly though:

Whitehead - just remember Fensom is the designated tackler. Sight unseen, tread carefully.

Sue - never done anything before can’t see significant improvement.

Paasi - looked good at 9’s. Possible option but Douglas back next week.

McQueen - getting a sustained run in back row could get a little bump in previous year’s average.

Grant - pass, no thanks.

Aubo and Lawrence – probably looking for a 40ish average which means will make a little cash.

Hookers and opinions on losing minutes (CS9, Peats, Sege etc). Andrew McAlister

I think it’s fair to say that any hooker worth their salt shouldn’t drop in average this year. My Top 5 are Smith, Lichaa, Segeyaro, Granville, AM9. Peats regular injuries are enough to scare me but he’s not bad either. CS9, Sege and Lichaa should all play 80. Decent chance for Peats too. Granville and McCullough will have a break.

Which player will make the most cash? Richard Mckernan

So who is the 2016 Soliola? That’s easy, Jackson Hastings, only an injury will slow him down.

Nathan Green, Lawrence, Aubusson and Yeo are all starting 2nd rower this week but available at centre. Do you see any long term Soliolaesque value coming from them or will all be spuds? Dan Kelly

There is a reason Aubusson is referred to as the black widow. But in saying that could he finally come good? Lawrence will snap a hammy. This leaves Yeo and Green as the most viable or safest options and at $170k can you wrong with Green? The one week he played second row last season he scored 51.

Is Parcell worth keeping? Do we start Ben Henry in the centres? Will Morton

Flick Parcell! Ben Henry, I have put him in the 2RF, this way I can make him interchangeable with one of my other CTR/2RF. If you don’t have a double adapter play him in the centres, just remember when Thompson is fully fit his role will diminish.

To JDB or not to JDB? Riana Davis

Stop listening to Shoayb Khan, I think there’s better ways to spend your cash.

Job security on J. Safiti? Sam McDell

I suspect he is in competition with Bhana and Fitzgibbon. Remember Sims is back in Round 6 too. I prefer Bhana and if they lose Week 1 you could see them switch roles in Round 2.

Will Mannering play 80 with no captaincy this season? Marc Wells

Absolutely! With no end of season games last year he will be fresh and good to go until at least Round 12 when they will check the batteries. Hoffman too will play 80 but is NOT a viable fantasy option.

Homebrand or Signature Range? Arana Taha

Signature Range! They have nice added extras and the plain packaging from Homebrand just makes you look like you’re on a benefit.

Worth going JDB and J.Graham in the front row, or Evans/Grant and Bromwich? Phillip Field

None of these do much for me, so spend some cash. Here’s my Top 5 FRF - Surgess, Woods, Gallen, Fifita, Cooper

Sorry to those we didn't get a chance to answer, feel free to PM your league code and I will jump in as many leagues as I can. I hope you all have a good week and keep your eye out for articles on this week including Best Captain options.


Tuesday, 01 March 2016 11:00

Renegade Tipster - Round 1

Welcome to the Renegades tipster. This early in the season it is always hard to get a read on player and team form but there's no harm taking a punt. Here's my tips for Round 1.

EELS VS BRONCOS Total points Over 40+ * Anthony Milford $2.80* Manu Ma'u $5.00

SEA EAGLES VS BULLDOGS Total points Over 38.5+ * Dylan Walker $3.75 *

RAIDERS VS PANTHERS Total points Over 42.5+ * Bryce Cartwright $4.20 * Tyrone Peachey $4.20 *

TIGERS VS WARRIORS Total points Over 42.5+ ** James Tedesco $2.10 * Roger Tuivasa-Sheck $2.10 *

COWBOYS VS SHARKS Total points Over 40.5+ * Ben Barba $3.50 (if fullback)

ROOSTERS VS RABBITS Total points under 39. 5- * TS Blake Ferguson $3.10*

TITANS VS KNIGHTS Total points under 40.5- TS Dane Gagai $2.50*

STORMS VS DRAGONS Total points TBA Try scorer Benji Marshall $6 *

Tuesday, 01 March 2016 11:00

Why don’t they just play through it?

The game’s gone soft. Back in the day, Sattler played 79 minutes with a broken jaw and made that final cover tackle to win the game...... or something? Perhaps those were different times? Or even different games? But it’s gone soft I tell ya! Just like BJH’s soft tip rod. Great for sensitivity but just no grunt these days.

Added to that this year, we have an extraordinary number of first 17 players on the injured list to start the season. In fact, it equates to about 11 percent of all first grade players, not counting up to eight to still face fitness tests! This leads us in to a massive potential hole for us as fantasy coaches. These players will all be coming back at some point. When and whose place they take is the big question. The last thing you want is for your painfully researched, golden secret cash cow to lose his spot before he’s ripe.

So which cows are most at risk of this happening? And which players are going to leave us begging for one more night of action just like a moist bridesmaid on a hen’s night? First case in point is Jamie Buhrer, or more commonly known as “JK’s special man”. A fractured jaw in the 9s saw a good number of us reaching for the clipboard again in frustration with his glass jaw, knees, hip, and any other bone this poor young bugger has broken. All recovery planning points to him coming back around round 4. That awkward round where no cows are ready to milk but some become plainly obvious to see that they are completely milk free. Great for my lactose intolerance, but bad for my team. Do you have him up your sleeve as a sneaky trade in for an injured gun from early in the season? Or do you ignore him for the whole year despite his handy dpp status and reasonable price? My call is to ignore him for the year. Purely on risk factor alone.

Maranta’s mysterious wrist injury is another problem. Is Eden going to make enough cash to justify his selection in your team? After all, how long will this wrist keep young Lachlan out of Bennett’s promised land? My take on this one is that Eden is a great proposition but we know that Maranta is almost as favoured by old flint face as much as Boyd, so will be back sooner rather than later.

The Tigers throw up another conundrum. Cherrington has a chance to make decent cash with no other hooking options healthy. Halatau is back round 2, but in my opinion, is hardly even able to crack hooking duties at the The Bankstown Garden Villa, let alone first grade. Let me put it bluntly, if either of these two end up in your side, please exit the building now, and head over to those two nice men in the rubber jackets. Both Farah and Ballin should have this spot locked up as soon as they are back.

The Roosters have another set of variables as well. JWH and Cordner injuries will be great news for Evans, Napa and Aubo owners. But 3 doesn’t necessarily go into 2 that well. The best thing about this situation for us is that these injuries have quite lengthy recovery times, so the replacements have a good shot at scoring well for a long period. It would still be a big risk to pick all 3 players in your side though. I am hoping for a big return from Evans. He’s the cheapest, with probably the same upside.

This brings us to the back injuries. Moylan has stress fractures in his back and is meant to only be out for a couple of more weeks. Some dedicated H2H players have been toying with picking him now to save a trade down the track. Serious overallers should not even contemplate this idea. The trouble with these types of injuries is that there is not a great degree of confidence in predicting recovery times. For any fracture, 6-8 weeks is accepted as average recovery. Back stress fractures are notorious for slow healing, very difficult to get accurate medical imaging and can recur with very little warning. For me, this makes owning Moylan very risky and would suggest holding off to see if he recovers.

I hope TLT was good for you. It was for me. But be sure to consider the injury and suspension return dates of missing players before you lock your cows in. Happy milking.

ROUND ONE — So many injuries already Eels v Broncos, Thursday 8pm Missing: Lachlan Maranta (wrist), Jack Reed (shoulder); Anthony Watmough (knee, shoulder)

Sea Eagles v Bulldogs, Friday 8pm Missing: Jamie Buhrer (jaw); Brett Morris (knee), David Klemmer (suspended)

Raiders v Panthers, Saturday 3pm Missing: Adam Clydsdale (shoulder); George Jennings (shoulder), Matt Moylan (back)

Tigers v Warriors, Saturday 5.30pm Missing: Luke Brooks (suspension), Dene Halatau (suspension), Matt Ballin (knee), Robbie Farah (knee), Justin Hunt (back); Thomas Leuluai (knee), Ligi Sao (shoulder)

Cowboys v Sharks, Saturday 7.30pm Missing: Ray Thompson (ankle)

Roosters v Rabbitohs, Sunday 4pm Missing: Mitchell Pearce (disciplinary), Boyd Cordner (pectoral), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee); Luke Keary (suspended), George Burgess (suspended), Tom Burgess (ankle)

Titans v Knights, Sunday 6.30pm Missing: Kane Elgey (knee), Luke Douglas (suspended), Nene Macdonald (knee); Tariq Sims (suspended), Sione Mata’utia (suspended), James McManus (concussion)

Storm v Dragons, Monday 7pm Missing: Tyson Frizell (back), Dylan Farrell (back), Mose Masoe (knee)

RACING THE CLOCK Cameron Munster (knee), Billy Slater (shoulder), James Graham (ribs/concussion), Danny Wicks (shoulder), Dean Whare (calf), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (shoulder), Blake Austin (shoulder), Adam Reynolds (foot), Kieran Foran (hamstring)

Dr. Renegade

Sunday, 28 February 2016 11:00

Late Mail Busters

You love your NRL. You’re either involved with a Fantasy team, submitting your tips religiously, having a small (or not so small) wager on a game or eight, or some combination of the three.

You’ve watched the games religiously. You’ve seen Johnathan Thurston limp off after 60 minutes. Then, come Tuesday, the team lists are released. You scan the Cowboys line up, and you see Thurston is named. You’re still a bit edgy so you wait for the Late Mail sites. You read:

“Despite coming off early last weekend, Johnathan Thurston is a definite starter on Sunday against the Bulldogs.”

You let out a sigh of relief. You set him as your starting half, you tip the Cowboys, you place your bets. Then the game rolls around, the team lists update an hour before kick-off…and NO THURSTON!!! The Bulldogs win, you end up with 11 points from an auto emergency, you lose your head to head matchup, your perfect tipping round is in tatters, your multibet is in the toilet, and the world is a terrible place.

It’s frustrating, on a “bang your head on the table” level. No doubt the Late Mail sites mean well, but that’s not much consolation when bad information leads to these dark places. You want them held accountable for the bum steer they’ve given you.

Well, I wanted to do something. I needed inspiration, and I found it outside the NRL. I’m a WWE fan, and there is no shortage of websites out there that speculate on future matches, storylines, and potential injuries. These are called “dirtsheets” amongst wrestling fans, and for years they’ve been feeding “facts” that claim to be “sourced”. But they get it wrong so often. So the guys from a podcast called Ring Rust Radio took a stand. They started a segment, “Dirtsheet Busters”, where they summarise a week’s worth of dirtsheets, and expose them.

In the same spirit, I bring you Late Mail Busters. Every week, this article will look back at the sites that publish Late Mail, and report on what they got right and not so right. Each Late Mail site will have a success rate. Hopefully, as the season progresses, Fantasy coaches, tipsters, and gamblers will see a pattern emerge, where they will know how much faith they can place in each site.

The Late Mail sources that will be included are the NRL Late Mail, News Limited Late Mail (Telegraph/Courier Mail/Foxsports Supercoach), and Wacko’s Whispers. If you know any other sites, let me know, and I’ll include them. The nitty gritty of how it all works is listed below if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts and how it will all be calculated. But the main purpose of this is to figure out just who to believe. The truth is out there…

Late Mail Busters: How It All Works

  • Every Friday at 6 p.m. (Australian Eastern Standard time) reported team changes from NRL Late Mail, Supercoach Late Mail, Wacko’s Whispers, and any other Late Mail sites will be recorded. They do update over the weekend, but not all Fantasy coaches are in a position to take advantage of later information.
  • Sources must be available to the general public. It’s all well and good if you’ve got a mate that knows a guy, and all due respect to well-connected people in the Renegades group, but Renegades isn’t available to everyone. However, if they run a website or a blog where their info is available to the public, they’re fair game.
  • Likewise, any tweets will not be included. Normally the tweeted information ends up in Late Mail anyway. The exception to the rule is Wacko’s Whispers, as the site doesn’t update. Any tweets from Wacko before the Friday 6 p.m. cut-off will be included.
  • Reported changes will be categorised as
    • They’re Out Of Here - Players listed as definitely out
    • There’s A Feeling - Players listed as 50% chance or more of being out. Sites may use language like “under a cloud”, “battling an injury”, “in doubt”, etc.
    • Plans May Change - Players listed as more than 50% chance of playing. Language used includes “likely to play”, “should be okay”, etc.
    • Nothing To See Here - Players listed as definitely in, despite injury speculation.
    • Musical Chairs - Positional switches within the 17, including bench players swapping with listed starters.
    • The Replacements - Players listed as replacements for late injury withdrawals. It’s all well and good to say the Tigers’ winger may be out, but if it’s suggested Josh Addo-Carr will come in, and Jason Taylor decides to play Kyle Lovett there, that doesn’t really help anyone.
  •      Scoring will be as follows:
    • Success rates will be reported for all categories, as well as overall.
    • If a site lists 8 potential changes, and scores 4 correct, the score is 4/8 or 50%
    • If a site lists multiple potential replacements the score is proportional. If a site lists a player as out, but lists two potential replacements, they will score 0.5 for their correct selection.
    • Scores are assigned according to player designation. If a player is under a cloud, the Late Mail says he is out, and he misses the game, they are marked correct. If they say he is more likely to play and he misses the game, they are marked incorrect.
  • Common sense will be applied. For example, Jamie Lyon may be a late withdrawal, and Matt Parcell is brought in. The NRL Team List page shows Parcell as Lyon’s replacement in the centres. But the game starts, Parcell plays dummy half, Koroisau stands at five-eighth, and Dylan Walker is in the centres. That line up will be marked as correct.

So join me each week as we bust the late mail and find out who you should put your faith in and who you should ignore.

Gio Puglisi


Sunday, 28 February 2016 11:00

Don't get caught without Surgess

To Surgess or not to Surgess. That is not the question.

It seems that just like assholes, everyone has an opinion on whether picking Sam Burgess is all it’s cracked up to be this season. Everyone wants him, but a few are tipping him for a slow start and are taking the punt on another player to score more, at least for the first few weeks.

It doesn’t really matter if you think he will be slow to adjust to this NRL season or not after his year of grabbing more cash than the Thai hooker JG found overseas in a ditch. Union is a different game for sure, and those of us who have played it are all GREAT experts on how it will affect big Sammy (is the sarcasm font working?). I for one don’t think he will have any problems adjusting to the pace of this season; he played (albeit very badly) in a Rugby World Cup. It wasn’t tiddlywinks. The ultra-high stakes of a RWC is not going to be less pressure than the first 3 rounds of an NRL season. And for that reason, I don’t think his fitness or pace will be any concern at all.

But the other and even more compelling reason to have him locked into your side is not about him being slightly under-priced. It’s not about him being the only Burgess left standing and the only real option for an engine room player at the Rabbits. It is the plain and simple fact that every single serious Fantasy coach will have him.

What this really means is that IF it is an error to pick him, and IF he is off the pace for the first few weeks, the error is a small one. This is because the largest part of the field that will be challenging you for the title of all round Grand Poobah champ this year will still be level with you. But if he comes out and really brains it, scoring his 60 plus points each week, the error of not picking him is magnified to a massive extent. Sure, Wade Graham is an awesome player, sexy as sin, and on the way up, but picking him as a POD instead of Surgess is a sure-fireway to be 30 points behind the leaders after 3 weeks.

Then, if Sammy plays as well as we all think he still can, he’s also out of your price range almost for good. Or at the very least, until you cash out a cow or two in 6-8 weeks. The better option is to have a really good read of the Fantasy Prospectus to have a look at other value players that are going to score better than their price indicates due to increased minutes, a change of role, or change of club. This allows you the luxury of making a trade if it doesn’t quite work out without being out of contention for anything other than a box of tissues. A low ownership player that doesn’t quite gun it is not going to damage your overall ranking as much as a higher ownership player that does gun it that you don’t own.

We all love saying how “I picked the POD of the year”, and “Aubo this year will move to gun status”, but unless you are sure of the points increase (or decrease) reasons, there is no reason to grab that player because of his lack of ownership. Lack of high ownership in itself is an indicator of past and likely future performance. The selection of PODs becomes really important for your lower priced and/or rookie players. We all love a middy or two, and perhaps the most satisfying (apart from finishing in the top 16,000) event in my Fantasy life was picking the rise and rise of Seggy from middy to keeper status over the last couple of years.

But Sam Burgess is not a middy, he’s more of a cut price keeper, so the risk of not owning him from the start is huge. And the risk of actually owning him from kick off is negligible. And as Packy Man so eloquently stated about Sam Burgess, “He’s a fkn cyborg dude! He’s going to be immense straight up!” I fully agree with this sentiment. He won the Churchill Medal with a depressed fracture of his cheekbone the last time he played in the NRL. He’s good. Damn good. So unless you’re damned sure of your magical POD, best to chuck him in now.

Dr. Renegade

Friday, 05 February 2016 11:00

An open letter as the season approaches

This is an open letter about happiness, sorrow, excitement and guilt. The season is upon us and with it come all of the emotions of a pimply faced teenager getting his first alone time with a Farmers lingerie catalogue.

Team list posts are starting to overtake show me your best meme posts. Rivalries that have heated up over multiple years provide everyone else entertainment while we wait for the best day of the year- the first TLT.

To the sorrow, its not actually sorrow for me but sorrow for the partners who realise that yet again they are going to have to pretend to enjoy league. Is sorrow even the right word? Probably not but it looked good in the first line. Fantasy rules in our house through the NRL season. I don't know what was worse, getting heat for being on renegades all weekend or having to drag her off it now.

I know when I am getting excited for league because skate videos get replaced by NRL ones. I watched a Shaun Johnson highlight clip today, my heart fluttered, I sat up in my seat and yet again was taken to a place that was uncomfortably happy. Don't lie you have all felt it too.

I will happily pretend to be a super dad and offer to get up early on a Saturday morning with our son, but really it's so I can watch the replay of the late game from the night before. I'll happily be good guy Glenn and watch league. Its educational for him after all. The 9's weekend is the perfect way to kick start the season. Its short party style league that has all the things I love the most, big hits, bigger sidesteps and a ridiculous amount of tries.

#BBB #rippa

Renegade Boss Glenn O'Callahan

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 10:00

SFP Grand Final Position Preview

BY Joey this is why we play fantasy footy!!!!

It can be tough to hide the excitement – the biggest game of the fantasy season, the first ever all-Queensland Grand Final  this Sunday with accompanying ‘fairy tale / heartbreak’ stories for two of the game’s greatest fantasy players, and last but not nearly least there is the prospect of sharing in $10,000 cash in Sports Fantasy Pro’s 2015 NRL Championship Challenge.

What a game it will be! What a build-up!

Now, for those coaches out there who like selecting a team based off who is better looking, who high-fives the kids when running out of the race or whose mascot might win in a hypothetical fisticuffs, let me just say wally-speed to you on your quest to claim the ultimate fantasy prize.

But for those coaches who like to look at some real exposed form and get down into the statistical nitty gritty well, you better get all your work done before you read on because once you start perusing the Grand Final Form Guide it’s all you’ll be able to think about all week!!

2015 Sports Fantasy Pro Championship – Grand Final



Lachlan Coote (Cowboys)

Price: $334,950            Last Start:  12.60          3 Game Av:  17.4                 5 Game Av: 23.26

Analysis: Very quiet game from Coote down in Melbourne has seen his price tag plummet. Interestingly Coote is one of the few fullbacks that doesn’t seem to cash in big when his side is on top. When the Cows are on song Thurston runs the left, Morgan gets the offensive stats on the right and invariably is the one backing up down the middle given his speed. Coote fulfils his role in this side perfectly but unfortunately that role is not conducive to high fantasy output. 11 Runs last week not nearly enough for a fullback. Can bump his score up around 30 with a few last-pass try assists on the sweeping right to left plays but given the near success the Cows had going down Milford’s edge three weeks ago I just cant see Coote going big here.

Predicted Score: 18.5pts


Darius Boyd (Broncos) 

Price:  $287,700           Last Start: 38.60              3 Game Av: 27.3               5 Game Av: 18.4

Analysis: Darius was on the verge of drifting into fantasy obscurity before returning 38.60pts last week against the Roosters. Despite the decent high 30’s score his five game average is at a woeful 18.4pts. The intercept was a gift, no arguments there, but his 21 carries against was what caught my eye. He was involved. Doubtless coach Bennett will have him fired up for this game and ask for plenty more of what he saw last week. Links in left and right and in big games will not drop off to a winger on kick returns but set the standard with a hard carry back.

Predicted Score: 26pts


Centre/ Wing

Kane Linnett (Cowboys)

Price: $470,400            Last Start:  14.20          3 Game Av:  22.83                 5 Game Av: 27.74

Analysis: Had a shocker in Melbourne. Just 8 tackles and 14 runs from a centre that coaches can usually bank on returning high 20’s. Will Chambers did a good job on him defensively but the Cows scoring all their points on the right or through the middle was also a factor. Has the big job of containing Hodges this Sunday which always leads to a missed tackle or two, but certainly his work rate will be up on last Saturday. In the form Thurston and Cooper are in it will be hard for coaches to not take Linnett in this one given the space and opportunities he will likely get. Back the 5 game average which would be over 30 had he not failed last week.

Predicted Score: 28pts


Justin O’Neill (Cowboys)

Price: $456,750            Last Start:  46.70          3 Game Av:  31.30            5 Game Av: 26.36

Analysis: O’Neill’s form over the last three weeks has been very solid. Surprised plenty of coaches last week with a huge 46.70 return. A lot of the pre-game thought last week was that O’Neill would be the man missed by either Morgan showing then going, or hitting Feldt on the outside after going around O’Neill’s man. Was clear when these two teams met three weeks ago that had Morgan not been returning from injury and lacking confidence that O’Neill could have gone large and I see no reason why that has changed here. The Cowboys targeted Milford and Reed three weeks ago and Blake Ferguson showed the Cows exactly how well Jack reed can defend his line last weekend If O’Neill gets good ball he will do similar with his speed and agility, but it all comes down to the decisions that Morgan makes close to the line, fancy he will be given a directive to run hard and use O’Neill as a decoy to hold Reed in place. Price tag reflects last week’s score but still well worth taking.

Predicted Score: 27pts


Corey Oates (Broncos) 

Price:  $427,350           Last Start: 28.30               3 Game Av: 20.80               5 Game Av: 26.18

Analysis: Great work rate coming out of trouble in his own half and runs like a 7th forward. Great finisher. His base stats say you can bank on 18-20 points from Oates before he breaks a line or scores a try which will tempt plenty of coaches here given there are some backs in this Challenge who can go missing for a game and return a low teens points score. Also an appealing option for coaches looking to spread the offensive points potential but not wanting to put Jack Reed into their side (ever).

Predicted Score: 21pts


Jordan Kahu (Broncos) 

Price:  $407,400         Last Start: 18.20               3 Game Av: 22.33               5 Game Av: 23.35

Analysis: For an unheralded fantasy back Kahu has been ticking the scoreboard over nicely during the finals series. Being outside Hodges is a double-edged sword given the Origin star’s habit of stepping back on the inside and his reluctance to feed a winger unless he is clear. But Kahu is cheap as chups and will take the conversions for those 20mins that parker is off the field. Managed just 11.8 points last time these teams met and his 8 runs last week highlights his main problem of work rate.

Predicted Score: 17.5pts


Kyle Feldt (Cowboys)

Price: $364,350            Last Start:  14.70           3 Game Av:  17.60                5 Game Av: 17.16

Analysis: Expecting a sharp improvement here from Feldt on exposed form. Possibility that he will take the conversions is slim but still worth considering an extra 2-6 points from kicks could be vital. Can see Thurston sitting a few balls up on Reeds head and given Feldt’s leaping ability there is a good chance one will stick. Add that to the fact he is on the right wing of the most destructive edge in the final series and you can see he has plenty of upside. 9 runs (3 busts) is the big problem with Feldt if he can boost that up to 12 or 13 on Sunday his size and speed will take care of the rest. Just needs his hands on the footy more, but his price and upside should appeal strongly to coaches here.

 Predicted Score: 23pts


Justin Hodges (Broncos) 

Price:  $363,300           Last Start: 21.00               3 Game Av: 18.76            5 Game Av: 24.20

Analysis: Whether he should be playing or not is no longer the debate – just what are we going to get from him in what will be his last ever game that is the big question. Backing the Test and Origin centre to have a big game here, one based around offensive work rate. Will be in everything. Expect his run count to climb up around 20 and if that happens, the half dozen tackle busts and a couple of offloads will have him past 30pts before he breaks a line.

Predicted Score: 35pts


Jack Reed (Broncos) 

Price:  $360,150           Last Start: 25.50               3 Game Av: 23.33               5 Game Av: 21.82

Analysis: Rocks or diamonds has seldom been so perfectly personified in one footballer as it is in Jack Reed. Before Boyd gave him that inside ball Reed was on single digits. If you take out his try and linebreak Reed’s stats of 5 runs and 14 tackles (2 missed) made for very poor reading indeed. Really get the feeling that the GF will be decided by the kind of game Reed has. Given the offensive form of Morgan and O’Neill and the exceptional cover defence of Lowe and Morgan I cant see Reed not stinking this Challenge up. 15.7 three weeks ago when they last played is a good indication for coaches.

Predicted Score: 14pts


Antonio Winterstein (Cowboys)

Price: $339,150            Last Start:  11.40          3 Game Av:  20.96                 5 Game Av: 25.28

Analysis: Pretty clear from the above stats that Winty has been getting progressively more disappointing as the finals series has worn on. Fortunately for coaches that only makes him cheaper and therefore more appealing. 11 runs, 4 tackles and one error was all he recorded in Melbourne but coaches shouldn’t read too much into his form slump as it is more a result of the Cowboys success on the right side. Like Linnett on his inside, Winterstein has just got to sit back and enjoy the right side attack take up some of the offensive slack in recent weeks, but both Winty and the Cows will like his chances against the youngster in Jordan Kahu especially close to the line. Hodges does have a bad habit of trying to overcompensate for lesser defenders close to his line. If that happens on Sunday Thurston will see it immediately and Winterstein will reap the rewards via a bullet, chip kick or out the back to Coote then onto Winterstein.

Predicted Score: 32pts


Five Eighth

Anthony Milford (Broncos) 

Price:  $718,200           Last Start: 39.50               3 Game Av: 30.93               5 Game Av: 35.02

Analysis: If your looking on pure numbers Milford will seem a very appealing partner to Thurston in your teams’ halves. Returned a handy 27 points when last these two sides met, and last week he carried the ball a very mouth-watering 14 times for three busts, four offloads, a line break and a try. There is nothing at all wrong with his form…but something just tells me the kid may need this experience before finding his feet on the big stage. This game has ‘learnt a lot of valuable lessons as I went on to dominate the NRL for a decade’ written all over it for Milf and I expect the Cowboys to target him heavily with both speed and size.

Predicted Score: 17pts


Michael Morgan (Cowboys)

Price: $525,000            Last Start:  41.00           3 Game Av:  34.23                 5 Game Av: 29.12

Analysis: Probably the toughest call for coaches in this Challenge is whether to take Morgan or Milford. Morgan has scored back to back double’s so coaches should be aware that his score will plummet should he not find the line. Given Thurston will be in majority of teams Morgan looks an even bigger ‘all or nothing’ selection. On the other hand he is in amazing form,  is the Cowboys go-to man and if the game three weeks ago is anything to go by he will absolutely destroy the Broncos left edge defence. Will be too strong for Milford and to quick for Reed. Churchill Medal looms. 

Predicted Score: 37pts



Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)

Price: $571,200            Last Start:  55.60           3 Game Av:  47.66                 5 Game Av: 39.00

Analysis: Ok so three things to do for coaches here. First look at his five game average. Ok now his three game. And lastly look what he did last week. If that doesn’t talk you into Thurston nothing will. First man picked.

Predicted Score: 51pts


Ben Hunt (Broncos)

Price:  $500,850           Last Start: 40.00               3 Game Av: 39.46               5 Game Av: 33.42

Analysis: Ben ‘Stuart McGill’ Hunt has done everything asked of him and more this season yet it will be hard for coaches to give him the #7 jersey ahead of four-time Dally M Medallist and fantasy god Johnathan Thurston. Scored just 22 points against the Cowboys in Week 1 of the finals and that looks pretty close to the mark here in this one.  Just 70k cheaper than Thurston which will not be enough to convince majority of coaches to take the risk.  

Predicted Score: 22pts


Lock Forward

Corey Parker (Broncos)

Price:  $535,500          Last Start: 37.80               3 Game Av: 37.10               5 Game Av: 38.22

Analysis: Might not look like too much in this lock battle to coaches selecting on last-start form only, but when you take a closer look at Parker’s extended five-round average it becomes pretty clear that he is very nearly a must-have man. Any player who can guarantee you 36-40 points no matter what happens in the game is pure gold. Expect the silver fox to be on his A game in this one in terms of work rate.

Predicted Score: 44pts


Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)

Price: $363,300            Last Start:  33.10           3 Game Av:  27.26                 5 Game Av: 25.40

Analysis: If there is a player in this Challenge that can absolutely smash his recent form out of the park it is the Lolo-comotive. His five game average of just over 25 points is a fair indication of what he can produce with the limited minutes he is getting under coach Green. Last weekend’s 17 hitups and 20 tackles is absolute premium work rate considering he is only playing 50 minutes of game time. That 33 points against the Storm could have rocketed to mid 40’s had he broken the line or crossed for a try. Undoubtedly a risk to take him given Parker is the alternative, but sometimes coaches must take a risk or three to achieve victory – and the 170k saving will appeal to coaches who have stacked their side full of talent everywhere else. If Lolo can replicate his 17 carries against Brisbane expect him to climb up close to 40 points.

Predicted Score: 35pts



Gavin Cooper (Cowboys)

Price: $585,900            Last Start:  51.10           3 Game Av:  37.33                 5 Game Av: 37.96

Analysis: Almost priced out of the game here? Very interesting debate with Cooper this week given he is 210k dearer than the next most expensive back rower in Gillett. Last week against the Storm Cooper scored twice, gave one try assist and had two line breaks. That is 29 of his 51 points in three plays. So the big question has to be asked – is he worth it if the Grand Final is a low-scoring game and he doesn’t score? On last weekend’s 7 runs and 32 tackles you’d have to say no. The problem is the Cows have harnessed their middle power game now which comprises of runs fro Scott, Taumalolo, Tamou then Scott again. Then they shift either left or right to Lowe or Cooper – so while his tackling stats remain high, he is not getting his hands on the ball as much which always makes coaches nervous especially when paying out big money. Just can’t see him getting near his score last week and while he may out-point his back row rivals, I don’t see it being by enough to justify the 210k.

Predicted Score: 36pts


Matt Gillett (Broncos)

Price:  $372,750           Last Start: 27.80               3 Game Av: 29.56               5 Game Av: 31.02

Analysis: Really consistent performer who is one of the few backrowers that can shift from ultra attacking forward carrying the ball over 15 times, to defensive forward who can make 35+ tackles in a game. Is always good to break a line or bob up for a try as well. Play’s 80 minutes and appeals strongly on price. The Cowboys marker defence cost the big time against the Broncos three weeks ago so expect that Hunt will look in but play out to the likes of Gillett much more in this game.

Predicted Score:32pts

Ethan Lowe (Cowboys)

Price: $357,000          Last Start:  32.50           3 Game Av:  27.23                5 Game Av: 26.10

Analysis: Another back rower who started the year on fire but has plateaued I the last few months. Lowe is in the prime channel to reap some offensive points here floating around Morgan and Thurston and getting to run at Milford all game. Absolutely bombed a try against Brisbane last time they played which would have seen his score in the mid 30’s instead of just 20. Had 16 carries for 180m and 30 tackles against the Storm last week which is very solid. Looks ready for a big game.

Predicted Score: 34pts


Alex Glenn (Broncos)

Price:  $342,300           Last Start: 25.60               3 Game Av: 25.03               5 Game Av: 26.50

Analysis: Just don’t know what has happened to Glenn in recent months. He seems to have settled into a groove where busts, breaks and tries aren’t his job anymore, preferring to concentrate simply on defence and carrying the ball safely. Had 13 carries for 150m last weekend but was down on defence with just the 19. But it is the complete lack of danger he presents to a defensive line these days that is the concern. Price is certainly in his favour but it is very hard to look at his 5 game average and expect anything more.

Predicted Score:27pts



Andrew McCullough (Broncos) 

Price:  $309,750         Last Start: 27.60               3 Game Av: 29.13              5 Game Av: 29.16

Analysis: Ultra consistent performer who coaches can bank on for 35+ tackles a game. That’s 17 points before he touches the footy. Add his 4 or 5 runs a game and coaches can see that even though he is not playing 80 minutes anymore, he is still the safe selection at hooker for coaches looking to bank a mid 20’s score but still hope for a high 30’s one.

Predicted Score: 28pts

Jake Granville (Cowboys)

Price: $258,300            Last Start:  13.70           3 Game Av:  16.06                 5 Game Av: 22.86

Analysis: This is the hail mary player of the Challenge right here. Nothing about his stats is appealing (apart from the price tag) right now, but two months ago this kid was worth over 500k and dominating games. His last three weeks have been pathetic really, but that is in part due to him losing yet more minutes to Kostjaysn / Thompson. Will have learnt plenty from playing the Broncos three weeks ago about when to scoot and in the form his front row are in it is hard to see Granville not getting 2 or 3 great chances to go through the line. But stats don’t lie. 20 tackles and 3 runs is not going to get the Championship cheque here. Capable of a big 40+ score but this one looks beyond him especially given the speed and intensity at which it will be played. If Morgan or Thurston do succumb to injury Granville’s minutes will skyrocket.

Predicted Score: 18pts


Front Row

James Tamou (Cowboys)

Price: $368,550            Last Start:  21.90           3 Game Av:  25.80                 5 Game Av: 24.40

Analysis: Started the game last weekend on fire but his work rate dropped off in the second half. Made just 9 tackles but it was his 15 carries that helped his score into the low 20’s. Don’t expect him to be minding the pine for anywhere near as long this time around. 5 game average has been hit hard by a 5.4pt game a month ago. Will have his sights set on a monster 200m+ game and if Green gives him the minutes he may just get there.   

Predicted Score: 28pts


Matt Scott (Cowboys)

Price: $367,500            Last Start:  29.90          3 Game Av:  26.63                5 Game Av: 26.74

Analysis:  Unbelievably consistent prop who plays big minutes and always lifts for the big games. Scott will treat this like an origin game and should play 55-60mins. Lock in a 30+ fantasy points score here.  

Predicted Score: 32pts


Adam Blair (Broncos) 

Price:  $348,600           Last Start: 32.10               3 Game Av: 25.20               5 Game Av: 29.38

Analysis: Will be plenty of coaches wondering which Blair will turn up to the GF this Sunday – the ultimate tackling, work rate machine Blair or the ‘do what I need to do and nothing more’ Blair. Amazing 5 game average especially given the 20k saving. 14 hit-ups at 150m with 28 tackles – a coach can ask no more from a prop.

Predicted Score:25pts


Sam Thaiday (Broncos)

Price:  $325,500           Last Start: 26.30               3 Game Av: 28.00              5 Game Av: 25.66

Analysis:  Coaches know what they will get with Sammy. Always the first hand up for a carry and his 18 against the Roosters shows coaches he doesn’t need to do much more to get into the mid 20’s and beyond. Can pop a pass and bust a tackle with the best of them. Loves the big stage and could be a great point of difference.

Predicted Score: 28pts



Ben Hannant (Cowboys)

Price: $360,150            Last Start:  26.50           3 Game Av:  24.23                 5 Game Av: 24.74

Analysis:  It is pretty amazing that the big polar bear can return these scores from just 25-30mins of footy. His work rate is second to none and the upseide with Hannant is the massive minutes he can play should injury strike a front line prop or Taumalolo. Must be picked on the bench here given the inconsistent alternatives.

Predicted Score: 25pts


Scott Bolton (Cowboys)

Price: $327,600            Last Start:  20.10          3 Game Av:  25.90                 5 Game Av: 25.76

Analysis: A big 39pt game against the Sharks has slightly inflated Bolton’s averages here. His 20.10 (22 tackles, ten hit-ups) against the Storm is a far more accurate reflection of what coaches can expect. But still, anything over 20pts fro your bench is solid. Like Hannant can play on an edge or in the middle should injury strike. Slightly ‘overs’ but if you can afford him take him.

Predicted Score: 18pts


John Asiata (Cowboys)

Price: $321,300            Last Start:  17.70           3 Game Av:  16.23                 5 Game Av: 19.32

Analysis: Speaking of overs. Asiata will one day be a fantasy weapon but that is not this day and not this Challenge. Got through a power of work early in the second half against Melbourne when the Cows were on the back foot with 9 hit-ups and 19 tackles from limited minutes. Expect the stars to play longer minutes in the big GF so Asiata will likely be reduced to 20 minutes tops.

Predicted Score: 15pts


Jarrod Wallace (Broncos)

Price:  $318,150           Last Start: 17.50               3 Game Av: 23.43               5 Game Av: 24.54

Analysis: Interchange bargain in this Challenge. 9 runs and 20 tackles saw Wallace return a lower fantasy points score than coaches were used too, but one need only look at his 5 game average to know he is capable of better. Should push up into that 20pt mark in this one given the expected pace of the game and again, can play big minutes should injury to a top-liner strike. 

Predicted Score: 21pts


Kodi Nikorima (Broncos)

Price:  $234,150           Last Start: 7.70               3 Game Av: 13.36             5 Game Av: 12.36

Analysis: 5 runs, 4 tackles. 2 busts. That is what 7.70pts looks like and coaches will not want to be going anywhere near it in this one. Only case for Nikorima here would be a coach banking on an injury to McCullough, Hunt or Milford early in the game. Big risk to take a player who will return single digits should everything go to plan. Wayne Bennett’s history of giving the rookie’s very few minutes in big games must be factored in also.

Predicted Score: 6pts


Mitchell Dodds (Broncos) 

Price:  $194,250           Last Start: 16.90               3 Game Av: 12.70               5 Game Av: 13.70

Analysis: 9 runs and 15 tackles is promising work rate for such a rookie-priced benchy. If he can replicate it against the Cowboys who he scored just 9.3 fantasy points against three weeks ago, then his owners will be extremely happy.

Predicted Score:13pts


Joe Ofahengaue (Broncos)

Price:  $183,750           Last Start: 16.7               3 Game Av: 12.50               5 Game Av: 12.22

Analysis: Rookie forward who doesn’t play big minutes going into a game under a coach who doesn’t like giving rookie forwards many minutes – doesn’t bode well for young Joe. Think the wily old coach gave him his GF mins last weekend in just time against the Roosters. 10 carries and 17 tackles was season-high work rate from the youngster.

Predicted Score: 12 pts


Roro Kostjaysn (Cowboys)

Price: $175,350            Last Start:  9.70           3 Game Av:  13.26                 5 Game Av: 11.80

Analysis: Like Nikorima Rory will only score well if injury to a key playmaker strikes. Unlike Nikorima, the Cows utility can bank you 10-12 points from his 30-35mins of hooker. Plenty of coaches will simply pick him without thinking too much and just enjoy the guns they can afford with the money saved.  

Predicted Score: 14pts


The Wizard

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