The reigning NRL champions Melbourne Storm have named a near full strength line-up for the upcoming World Club Challenge match against Super League winners Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.
The new 'Big-3' have been named with Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cameron Munster all assuming their regular roles from last season.
Brodie Croft has been handed the number 7 jersey vacated by the departing Cooper Cronk while Ryan Hoffman has slotted straight back into his preferred left edge position.
The only top line player not included is Sam Kasiano who is currently suffering from a minor ankle injury.
1. Billy Slater
2. Suliasi Vunivalu
3. Will Chambers
4. Curtis Scott
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Brodie Croft
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Tim Glasby
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Dale Finucane
Our early Sunday game for Round 21 was always going to be all about one man. Cameron Smith became just the 3rd player to participate in 350 NRL matches and he did not shirk his responsibilities.
Smith lead the scoring with four try assists, 6 goals, 31 tackles plus a couple of other attack stats to finish on 88*. If there was any doubt about Smith's mantle as 'Rule number 1' for NRL Fantasy players, it has been quashed well and truly with a mind boggling performance from CS9. He ran the team just like we've come to expect and whenever the Storm were on attack, #CAM350 was there to take advantage of a weak Manly side which finished on 69 missed tackles. 69!!
As far as other scores go;
The other Cameron, Munster, finished on 59*. 9 tackle busts and an offload will have to be some consolation for Munster owners, as he came close to scoring at least 3 times but couldn't quite cross the line.
Joe Stimson was handed another start and duly delivered with a try on his way to 58* points. He's definitely not a target for this season but once Tohu Harris departs, he could be an undervalued buy for 2018.
Curtis Scott had a quiet second half and ended the game on 41* points. This was his second game in an unfamiliar left centre position but he performed admirably. He should continue to grow through this year and is definitely a valid option to fill a spot in your 17 for the remainder of the season.
Martin Taupau had somewhat of a resurgence with 49* points in 44 minutes. He made 5 tackle busts and 3 offloads to get him back to being in the conversation for a spot in your side after a few less than stellar performances.
DCE and the Trbojevic Bros Inc were a major let down with Cherry-Evans finishing on 25* after contributing 9 of the aforementioned missed tackles. He wont suffer the same treatment every week and is someone you shouldn't hesitate to play for the remainder of the season, unless you have Cleary, Pearce and a host of bench forwards to play in his stead. Jake Trbojevic scored 40* with no attacking stats other than run metres. He wont have to play the Storm every week so you can expect his scores to increase for the remainder of the season. The same could be said for brother Tom, who was shut down by Melbourne. Despite a try-assist, he could only provide 23* points for his owners.
An exhilarating match at AAMI Park made it to golden point with a penalty goal after the full-time siren for Kyle Feldt and the Cowboys.
After taking a 10-6 lead into the half, the Storm's young guns first brought them back into the game before grabbing the lead, only to concede a late try to the repositioned Kane Linnett. Referee Ben Cummins made a brave and correct decision just before the 80 minutes were up as Nelson Asofa-Solomona took out the legs of Jake Granville after a chip kick. Some Brodie Croft magic sealed it for the Storm in extra time first with an amazing chip kick which pulled up like a Sergio Garcia lob wedge and then with an arrow straight field goal.
Jason Taumalolo had a brilliant game as many expected. Once again he ran for a massive 300 metres and included a few off loads to finish on a very captain worthy score of 80*. All those that had the misfortune not to put the VC on Crichton will be jumping all over the loophole here.
There were some big scores all across the board with Tohu Harris (64*), Jesse Bromwich (63*), Cameron Munster (60*), Brandon Smith (60*) and Curtis Scott (54*) all impressing immensely.
Harris will struggle to find his way into teams this season due to the high volume of big scorers in the 2RF position.
Bromwich was always expected to have a bigger input this week with Glasby on Origin duty. The big Kiwi prop ended up playing 78 of the 85 minutes on offer and was in everything. If he played like that every week he'd be a keeper but I expect him to go back to mediocrity next week.
Munster was shaping as a POD for the run home but his current form (3 round average of 54.67) may mean he is more of a 'must-have'. He was out of his normal position this week with Billy Slater in Queensland camp but he has also impressed in the halves this season and I wouldn't be surprised to see him continue that form.
Brandon Smith had a magical game for all those that were thinking of running a single hooker for the rest of the season. He scored his second try in as many games and seemed to provide the spark that the Storm needed to get back into the contest. Hopefully Bellamy notices that in both games that Griffin and Smith have shared the hooking duties, they have conceded a lot more and scored a lot less with Griffin on the field. Hey, I just want that cash!
This weeks most popular cash out Curtis Scott nabbed himself a double (and probably should have had a hat-trick if not for a selfish Kaufusi) and managed an extremely handy 54 points.
* Scores do not include updates.
** Hate all y'all with Crichton VC or Lolo VC
*** Also hate all y'all with Crichton C or Lolo C
A Cameron-Smithless Storm managed to brush aside the Knights with a convincing display.
The game really belonged to Billy Slater who finished with 2 tries and 2 try assists to finish on 68* points. If you were smart enough to vice-captain him and are able to use the captains loophole, there are not many situations where you would not utilise that this week.
Anyone that kept the faith with Felise Kaufusi was rewarded with a try and 47* points. His try was worth about 18 points though so once again it wasn't a great score, however he did manage play the 80 minutes. You do have to remember that there were only 3 big forwards on the bench and Will Chambers only played 71 minutes so I would assume these were both contributing factors.
Cameron Munster had a reasonable 45* from doing absolutely nothing so I think he will be a very popular pick up next week with the Storm playing the two remaining major bye rounds.
Jesse Bromwich managed his highest score of the year with a reasonably respectable 42*. This came from a mammoth 59 minutes which he has been building too all season. He will also be a popular bye next week as his BE should be heading in the opposite direction to his scores.
Tohu Harris disappointed with only 37* points. He doesn't seem to be getting as involved as years past. Whether he builds into it or he has lost that aspect of his game remains to be seen but his price will continue to drop.
For the Knights, only Brock Lamb's 38* was any where near helpful. His ownership continues to drop but he'll make a little cash this week and have an achievable BE next week so he's probably a hold at the moment (unless you upgrade to Munster for example).
If you want to have a good laugh, check out tonights game thread for some cracker puns.
* Scores do not include updates
Now that was a game fantasy coaches can rejoice.
Sam Burgess and Angus Crichton both showed why they will be in a lot of teams come seasons end with 75 and 74 points respectively. I think the best thing from both of those scores is that neither of them had any attacking stats other than tackle breaks (5 a piece) ad offloads (3 for Burgess). With the Rabbitohs favourable bye schedule, you need both of these guys in your team asap!
Cameron Smith was good but not quite to the level of the two Bunnies back rowers. He finished on 61 points and added a polish to all those that didn't have the balls to switch to Fifita or Taumalolo. And also to all those that didn't have the misfortune of going with a McCullough or Graham type.
Just quietly, Robbie Farah has played 80 minutes for two weeks in a row and scored 49 in both those matches. He'll be priced just over $300,000 after this week and could be a good partner for Cameron Smith if you're willing to take the risk.
Felise Kaufusi was promoted to the starting line up but once again wasn't given the full 80 minutes. It definitely looks like this will be the norm for him and with a drop in price coming, I think the time to trade is now. Or next week, as the Storm don't play this week and he won't lose any more value.
Billy Slater did enough to hold value and will be a trade this week as he will miss 4 of the next 7 matches for the Storm. He's made a very handy $169,000 so far this season but is probably not quite a season long keeper.
Adam Reynolds had a stellar first half with 32 points but actually lost 1 point in his 23 minutes in the second stanza. He left the field for an HIA and did not return. He'll drop a bit of cash this week which is great for all those that were targetting to pick him up before the Oranges period.
Cody Walker was a slightly disappointing with only 31 points but he was up against the toughest defence in the NRL so I think he'll be fine.
As far as cheapies go, popular centre grab Tyrell Fuimaono managed 19 in 23 minutes and once again passed the eye test. It's a shame that the Rabbitohs don't have any Oranges bound forwards as he'd be a great player with more minutes.
*All scores do not include updates*
There are no changes to the home side as the Dragons will run out as named on Tuesday. All those Jai Field owners - unlucky.
For the Storm, Joe Stimson comes onto the bench in place of Ryley Jacks which is good news for all those that still own him.
1 Josh Dugan
2 Nene Macdonald
3 Euan Aitken
4 Tim Lafai
5 Jason Nightingale
6 Kurt Mann
7 Josh Mccrone
8 Russell Packer
9 Cameron Mcinnes
10 Paul Vaughan
11 Tyson Frizell (C)
12 Joel Thompson
13 Jack De Belin
14 Tariq Sims
15 Leeson Ah Mau
16 Hame Sele
17 Taane Milne
1 Billy Slater
2 Suliasi Vunivalu
3 Will Chambers
4 Cheyse Blair
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Cameron Munster
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Jesse Bromwich
9 Cameron Smith (C)
10 Jordan Mclean
11 Felise Kaufusi
12 Kenny Bromwich
13 Dale Finucane
14 Christian Welch
15 Tim Glasby
16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
18 Joe Stimson
1. Andrew Fifita finally shows up
62* in 51 minutes is Fifita's highest score of the year and it couldn't come at a better time. Many were becoming disillusioned with his scoring this season but Fifita showed why he cost 601k to start the season. He''ll need to do it a few more times to get his average up but if anyone can, Fifita can.
2. Wet weather footy is good fun to watch
Maybe it was the fact that it wasn't my players dropping the ball but I love a wet game. More tackles, more tackle breaks, more missed tackles (if you're James Maloney). Big points from Cam Smith!
3. Time to buy...
Paul Gallen? He's averaging over 55* and plays 2 of the 3 major bye rounds. I hate him more than anyone but he could be the perfect replacement for Fifita (if he plays Oranges)
4. Time to sell Pt 1...
Jayden Brailey? Tonights 34 will give him a nice bump in price and should lower his BE. He looks set to continue around the 50-55 minute mark but showed tonight he can score reasonably with those minutes. Obviously he isn't a keeper but he could have one or two more weeks in him.
5. Time to sell Pt 2...
Ryley Jacks. With Munster back in the next 2 or so weeks, Jacks time is coming to an end anyway, but he also sat on a sub 30 score until the last 5 minutes tonight. That 36 was very handy for his value but I'll be looking at offloading Jacks to the likes of Hampton or Frawley.
Following the withdrawal of Jesse Bromwich and Cheyse Blair, Young Onomatopoeia comes into the starting side and Jordan McLean will join the bench along with Christian Welch for the Storm. Tim Glasby will start at prop while Tui Kamikamica misses out.
The Sharks will run out 1-17 as named on Tuesday.
1. Billy Slater
2. Suliasi Vunivalu
3. William Chambers
18. Young Tonumaipea
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Ryley Jacks
7. Cooper Cronk
15. Tim Glasby
9. Cameron Smith ©
10. Nelson Asofa Solomona
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Kenny Bromwich
13. Dale Finucane
14. Joe Stimson
16. Mark Nicholls
20. Christian Welch
21. Jordan McLean
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Jack Bird
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Gerard Beale
6- James Maloney
7- Chad Townsend
8- Andrew Fifita
9- Jayden Brailey
10- Matt Prior
11- Luke Lewis
12- Wade Graham
13- Paul Gallen
14- Jayson Bukuya
15- Chris Heighington
16- Jeremy Latimore
17- James Segeyaro