Next week will be hectic so to give you some advance prep time I’ve come up with an educated (sort of) guess on what each of the 21 man TLT squads is going to look like next week. I’m 100% confident that most of them will have a play or two wrong but along with the accompanying text it should provide a decent guide on where teams are at. And keep in mind this is a prediction of TLT, not a prediction of how the 17 man sides will be come game day.
Picking 21 man squads is probably a lot harder than you think. Firstly 21 men is basically the entire 25 man top tier of contracted players. We also have no idea how teams might structure the additional four players, but presumably they will want players that offer a range of positional coverage should there be late injuries but we don’t really know yet. Either way you’ve got to go deep into the depth chart to find players.
And if you are asking why there are 21 man squads – see here. You need to be across this one.
Two important watching points for the Sharks: will rookie Jayden Brailey play and is Valentine Homes fit? Playing in the first game there will be plenty of time to resolve those issues in your fantasy side although you might want to have an idea on what the plan is should Brailey not play and you need more cash for a hooker.
1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Gerard Beale, 3. Jack Bird, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Sosaia Feki 6. James Maloney, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Luke Lewis, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 14. Daniel Mortimer, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jayson Bukuya, 17. Sam Tagataese, 18. Kurt Capewell, 19. Fa’amanu Brown 20. Joseph Paulo, 21. Jesse Ramien
There probably isn’t going to be room for any surprises in the Broncos side. Josh McGuire has been confirmed as the lock. Jai Arrow probably isn’t worthwhile in your fantasy team as a bench option, and with Glenn and Nikorima on the bench already he might miss out for another prop. Kodi Nikorima didn’t play in the game against Warrington but will probably come back into the bench.
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Jordan Kahu, 4. James Roberts, 5. David Mead, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Adam Blair, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Sam Thaiday, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Kodi Nikorima, 15. Alex Glenn, 16. Tevita Pangai Jnr, 17. Joe Ofahengaue, 18. Jai Arrow, 19. Herman Ese'ese, 20. Benji Marshall, 21. George Fai
Though there was some speculation it seems like Moses Mbye will play which means it is unlikely that there is a cash cow HLF at the Bulldogs (though he wouldn’t have gotten you much cash anyway). Brad Abbey likely hasn’t forced his way past Holland or Lee. Danny Fualalo ($166,000) is probably the cheapest player with a chance to be named in the 17 although he’s not very good and probably gets low minutes. Francis Tualau is also a chance but you’d want to confirm the actual side an hour before kick-off.
1. Will Hopoate, 2. Brett Morris, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Brenko Lee, 5. Kerrod Holland, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Moses Mbye, 8. Aiden Tolman, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. James Graham, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Greg Eastwood, 13. David Klemmer. Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano, 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 16. Danny Fualalo, 17. Francis Tualau, 18. Brad Abbey, 19. Craig Garvey, 20. Adam Elliott, 21. Josh Cleeland
There will be some interest around Billy Slater’s status and the knock on impact to cheapie Brodie Croft. The TLT squad might provide some pointers but Craig Bellamy is notoriously evasive so don’t be shocked to see Slater named and then withdrawn an hour before kick-off. If Slater doesn’t play either Tonumaipea or Munster will play fullback, if it is Munster then Croft will play halfback. There is also the matter of replacing Kevin Proctor on an edge. Kenny Bromwich seems to be the favourite but there has also been speculation that Felise Kaufusi could get the role (Nelson Asofa Solomona seems to have had sex with Craig Bellamy’s daughter or something because he’s much better than both these guys). Curtis Scott seems to have leapt Cheyse Blair for a centre spot opposite Will Chambers, don’t be shocked to see Blair named in the 21 though. If Slater is fit it could be a toss-up between Tonumaipea or Addo-Carr, I think JAC but who knows and neither are fantasy relevant. Finally the fourth interchange could end up with Welch, Griffin or Stimson. The general rule with the Storm players is maintain some contingency plans until an hour before kick-off.
1. Billy Slater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Curtis Scott, 4. Will Chambers, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Tohu Harris, 12, Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane Interchange: 14. Felise Kaufusi, 15. Tim Glasby, 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 17. Christian Welch, 18 Slade Griffin, 19 Joe Stimson, 20 Brodie Croft, 21 Young Tonumaipea
South Sydney Rabbitohs
There is a spot up for grabs in the backline that should be filled by a cash cow – Talakai, Burns and Jennings are competing for the centre/wing spot available and it seems to be in that priority order. I think you can probably have some faith the player Macguire announces on Tuesday will play on Friday. There will be interest in George Burgess and whether he starts or plays from the bench. I’m probably willing to give him a crack regardless, he was a fantasy force in his debut season which came mostly from the interchange and he shouldn’t be worse than last year.
1. Greg Inglis, 2. Bryson Goodwin, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Siosifa Talakai, 5. Alex Johnston, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. George Burgess, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. Dave Tyrrell, 11. John Sutton, 12. Kyle Turner, 13. Sam Burgess. Interchange: 14. Damien Cook, 15. Jason Clark, 16. Thomas Burgess, 17. Robbie Rochow, 18. Anthony Cherrington, 19. Angus Crichton, 20. Robert Jennings, 21 Luke Kelly.
Jamal Idris is a shoo in to start so no worries there, the interest will be whether Tim Simona’s issues get Moses Suli onto a wing for a debut. Suli started the weekend’s trial but holdover Jordan Rankin is there too. Suli has been added to fantasy as a DPP so we need him there. There’s uncertainty on whether Matt Ballin and Jacob Liddle will be fit allowing Matt McIllwrick to start, I’d keep away from them all. Could be some interest in who starts with Chris Lawrence in the back row, in the final trial Lawrence played some five-eighth while Sue and Chee Kam started while presumptive starter, Josh Aloiai came off the bench.
1. James Tedesco, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Jamal Idris, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Moses Suli, 6. Mitchell Moses, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Matt McIlwrick, 10. Tim Grant, 11. Josh Aloiai, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Matt Ballin, 15. Ava Seumanufagai, 16. Sauaso Sue, 17. Michael Chee Kam, 18. Jack Littlejohn, 19. Joel Edwards, 20. Jordan Rankin, 21. Wesley Lolo
St George Dragons
Jai Field must win the halfback battle. He must. If he gets named in 7 on TLT then you can lock it in. If he doesn’t but is included in the 21 remain hopeful until Saturday afternoon at 1530 hours Eastern Time (1730 New Zealand time). If he doesn’t get named in the 21 on TLT then encourage your Dragons mates, who will already be on the verge of mental break down, to assassinate Paul McGregor. Juggling around a rookie halfback three games into the round could be a nightmare although I think I might just take a punt and hold onto him in the hope he gets the start pretty early in the year. TLT probably won’t give us an indicator of whether Cameron McInnes will be an 80 minute hooker unless Josh McCrone is the sole named halfback, although Marketo might play some utility too, but if McCrone gets an interchange gig that’s good for JDB….. it could all be very confusing. Taane Milne is probably still battling Tim Lafai and there’s some whispers Lafai is ahead, that’s madness though.
1. Josh Dugan, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Taane Milne, 5. Jason Nightingale, 6. Gareth Widdop, 7. Josh McCrone, 8. Paul Vaughan, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Joel Thompson, 13. Jack De Belin Interchange: 14. Jake Marketo, 15. Tariq Sims, 16. Russell Packer, 17. Jacob Host, 18. Timoteo Lafai, 19. Kurt Mann, 20. Luciano Leilua, 21. Jai Field
With Tyrone Peachey looking set to start at centre this side lacks a lot of intrigue.
1. Matt Moylan, 2. Dean Whare, 3. Waqa Blake, 4. Tyrone Peachey, 5. Peta Hiku, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Peter Wallace, 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Bryce Cartwright, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Leilani Latu, 16. James Fisher-Harris, 17. Moses Leota, 18. Dylan Edwards, 19. Corey Harawira-Naera, 20. Sitaleki Akauola, 21. Tim Browne
North Queensland Cowboys
Scott Bolton seems certain to take the spot vacated by James Tamou. Sam Hoare and Patrick Kaufusi are battling for the third forward spot and Hoare might be a decent fantasy option. Winterstein’s injury clears the way for Ponga to potentially get a run, but I suspect Bowen is the more likely option. If Paul Green has no intention of naming Ponga I doubt he even makes the 21 man squad.
1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O'Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Javid Bowen, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Scott Bolton, 11. Ethan Lowe, 12. Gavin Cooper, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. John Asiata, 15. Ben Hampton, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Sam Hoare, 18. Patrick Kaufusi, 19. Corey Jensen, 20. Ben Spina, 21. Ray Thompson.
The Raiders lined up a virtual NSW Cup side in the final trial so not many clues there. Jordan Turner and Nick Cotric are battling to replace the injured skipper Jarrod Croker. Cotric will be in a lot of teams if he gets the nod. I wouldn’t be shocked if Turner and Cotric make the side with Edrick Lee dropping out. The lack of a bench hooker could clear the way for Josh Hodgson to play 80 minutes. Soliola seems set to play lock though Luke Bateman could be an outside chance. Junior Paulo is suspended for the first game, there’s no clear replacement for him with Priest and Lui options and maybe Tapine. Another option could be a start at lock for Bateman with Soliola playing prop. It is a short term thing and probably shouldn’t influence your thinking much.
1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Clay Priest, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Sia Soliola. Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale, 15. Joseph Tapine, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Luke Bateman 18. Dave Taylor, 19. Jeff Lima, 20. Zac Santo, 21. Lachlan Croker.
Gold Coast Titans
There could be a few notable fantasy goings on for the Titans’ team list. It seems certain that Elgey and Taylor start in the halves, Roberts was probably going to be on the bench but an injury to Nathan Peats might find him starting at hooker. There also seems to be a spot at wing or centre open with Will Zillman linked in trade rumours and Dan Sarginson battling back from injury. John Olive ($143,000), Nathan Davis ($185,000) and Daniel Vidot ($240,000) are in the mix with only Hayne, Hurrell and Don appearing to be locked into the back five. Fitting in the newly acquired Joe Greenwood will also be a point of interest, Jarrod Wallace has spent some time at lock but he could shift back to prop to accommodate Greenwood. Greenwood has been added to fantasy at a price tag of $335,000, god only knows if that is value but if he starts at lock he might entice a few people. Wallace should have upside regardless of whether he plays prop or lock. The prop stocks look pretty low and that might help Morgan Boyle, or someone else slip into the 17.
1. Jarryd Hayne, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Will Zillman, 6. Ash Taylor, 7. Kane Elgey, 8. Leivaha Pulu, 9. Tyrone Roberts, 10. Ryan James, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Jarrod Wallace. Interchange: 14. Joe Greenwood, 15. Paterika Vaivai, 16. Nathaniel Peteru, 17. Morgan Boyle, 18. Tyler Cornish, 19. Lorenzo Ma'afu, 20. Nathan Davis, 21. Daniel Vidot.
The starting side for the Roosters should look a lot like their final trial side with Pearce in for Watson, Cordner in for Matterson and Napa to start at prop bumping Aubusson or Liu out of the 13. Kane Evans, Connor Watson and Aubusson/Liu seem to be certainties for the interchange and they’ll probably be joined by Paul Carter. Not very exciting for fantasy purposes, we’ll have to hold out hope for Nat Butcher and Zane Tetevano sometime in April.
1. Michael Gordon, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Blake Ferguson, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Luke Keary, 7, Mitchell Pearce, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Dylan Napa, 11, Boyd Cordner, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Aidan Guerra. Interchange: 14. Connor Watson, 15. Kane Evans, 16. Paul Carter, 17. Isaac Liu, 18 Chris Smith, 19. Ryan Matterson, 20. Dale Copley, 21. Jayden Nikorima.
New Zealand Warriors
Hingano will start the first two games but won’t have enough time to make money. Coaches that still grab him are just hoping to get lucky rather than showing sound judgement. The likely suspects to steal minutes from Isaac Luke didn’t play in the trial which could mean Luke will get 80 minutes a game, some value if he does. With Ben Matulino and Charlie Gubb injured (Gubb also sucks) there could be a sliver of hope for Isaiah Papalii who could be a future fantasy man crush. It might be more likely that Afoa, Vete and Gavet are joined by Blake Ayshford because why wouldn’t the Warriors do that? I’m this close to calling Papalii the round 1 bolter though. He’s a risky fantasy selection for round 1 because the Warriors play so late and there might not be many contingencies should he fail to make the final 17. He’s a real classy player though. I’ve probably put way to many outside backs on the extended bench but there are some forward pack injuries. Gubb might be included on the extended bench over Pauga to see if he can be fit. There's injury clouds over both Hoffman and Thompson, Bunty Afoa would be the first option.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. Tuimoala Lolohea, 3. David Fusitua, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Ata Hingano, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Sam Lisone, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11, Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14. Albert Vete, 15. James Gavet, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Blake Ayshford, 18. Isaiah Papalii, 19. Junior Pauga, 20. Mason Lino, 21. Ken Maumalo
Nathan Brown named a million debutants for round 1 last season and he named the side a couple of days before TLT which was really nice. Dylan Phythian seems set to wear the number 1 and you can probably trust TLT there. He might be Feeney 2.0 but you still get him in the hope he’s not. In fact the starting side should look a lot like the side that destroyed the Raiders in the final trial. Bench might contain a cheap FRF or 2RF with Yates, Stone and Fitzgibbon in the mix but Sam Mataora, who played the reserve grade trial, is around too.
1. Dylan Phythian, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh Starling, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Jamie Buhrer, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Sam Stonel, 15. Jack Stockwell, 16. Jacob Saifiti, 17. Luke Yates, 18. Brendan Elliot, 19. Will Pearsall, 20. Sam Mataora, 21. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
Manly Sea Eagles
The final game of the round pits two sides with uncertain hooker spots and this is a real risk for fantasy coaches. First the Sea Eagles have Apisai Korisau who has some upside if he plays big minutes and is available as a HOK/HLF. Jackson Hastings probably doesn’t make the game day 17 although it is hard to be sure. Lewis Brown will, but I’d be shocked if Brown is there to play more than 10-15 mins at dummy half. Coaches will also be interested to see who joins Nate Myles, Martin Taupau and Jake Trbojevic as the starting props and back row. Players like Lawrence, Fonua Blake, Sironen and Kennedy all have upside, but only if they start which makes them a bit risky as you’ll have to wait all weekend to confirm the line-up. Of course you could for example go Sironen to Kennedy if the later gets the start. Frank Winterstein started the last trial but I don’t see him being an option. Brian Kelly appears to be behind Jono Wright which is questionable decision making but there you are.
1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Dylan Walker, 4. Jono Wright, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Blake Green, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Brenton Lawrence, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Martin Taupau, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown, 15. Addin Fonua-Blake, 16. Jarrad Kennedy, 17. Lloyd Perrett, 18. Frank Winterstein, 19. Jackson Hastings, 20. Brian Kelly, 21. Shaun Lane.
Cameron King is still in 10% of teams although he didn’t play the last trial. It seems to be holdover Isaac de Gois and cheapie Kaysa Pritchard that will get the nod although Brad Arthur has been a bit cagey. I think both will get named on TLT and it will be risky to press forward with Pritchard without reliable confirmation he is going to start. They are all mid-rangers but the only other spot of uncertainty lies in who starts opposite Tim Mannah, Matagi got the job in the final trial.
1. Bevan French, 2. Semi Radradra, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Brad Takairangi, 5. Josh Hoffman, 6. Clint Gutherson, 7. Corey Norman, 8. Suaia Matagi, 9. Isaac De Gois, 10. Tim Mannah, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Beau Scott. Interchange: 14. Nathan Brown, 15. Kenny Edwards, 16. Kaysa Pritchard, 17. Frank Pritchard, 18. Daniel Alvaro, 19. Troy Dargan, 20. Jamal Fogarty, 21. David Gower.