Part two: Players of Intrigue in 2020

2019 SC runner-up Walson Carlos assesses the POIs from the 5th-8th placed clubs.

Expert Analysis Pre Season

Okay, we’ve all heard of POD’s but what about POI’s?

I know it doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite as well. Nonetheless these Players of Intrigue (POI’s) might just make the difference for this SuperCoach season.

Maybe they’ve moved to a new club, swapped positions, have a new coach or playing role. These are among a plethora of factors that can affect a player’s output from year-to-year and in turn affect their SuperCoach points output.

Below I’m going to work my way through the clubs and touch on the SuperCoach players that intrigue me leading into season 2020.

Here’s my take on the fifth to eighth placed teams from last year.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations.

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Brisbane Broncos

Jamayne Isaako – CTW/FLB – $420,000

The intrigue surrounding Jamayne Isaako is around the apparent commitment from the Broncos for him to play fullback in 2020.

It’s an interesting move from Broncos coach Anthony Seibold as I felt like Isaako was pretty ordinary at times last year.

The SuperCoach stats show that Isaako suffered a bit from second year blues in 2019 with the most noticeable drop in his scoring stats.

In 2018 Isaako averaged 7.8PPG from tries and 15.7PPG from goals which adds up to 23.5PPG from scoring.

Have a look at 2019 though and his try-scoring (SuperCoach) points average dropped to 3.2PPG and his goals dropped to 9.9PPG, a total of 13.1PPG.

It’s probably not a surprise that his overall SC average dropped from 56PPG in 2018 to 45PPG in 2019.

So what we really want to know is 1. Can he turn it around? and 2. Will he outscore his price, hence leading to price rises?

No one really knows but the nature of playing fullback lends itself to higher scores and I believe the Broncos are on an upward trajectory and that’s saying something since they finished 8th last year. Assuming he gets the kicking duties and retains his fullback position Isaako will be a good buy if you can fit him into your team at an awkward price.

Anthony Milford – 5-8/FLB – $476,000

Surely Milford bounces back from a dismal SuperCoach year in 2019 by his standards.

The fact that he still averaged over 50 in 2019 is testament to his scoring potential. In 2017 Milford averaged 70 and scored over 60 points in 70 percent of his games.

That’s phenomenal SuperCoach consistency from a player out of the half/5-8 position. So what went wrong? Well the easy answer is the Broncos attempted to turn him into something he wasn’t…a genuine halfback.

Milford is a mercurial talent and he runs the ball perhaps better than any half in the game. I think Seibold acknowledged this when he put him to fullback late in the year. He showed me enough glimpses of his former self to convince me that the Broncos acquiring a genuine organising halfback in Brody Croft is the panacea to Milford’s SuperCoach woes.

Matt Lodge – FRF – $582,000 – ACL INJURY

I will be keeping a very close eye on Lodge in 2020 and am very tempted to use him as a POD option at some stage throughout the year.

The reasons are Lodge is low ownership and maybe always will be with SuperCoaches because of his past indiscretions.

Sure in 2018 when he was a cheapie SuperCoaches bought him in their thousands because he was so inexpensive and was certain to make money.

But I get the impression from Lodge’s 3 percent ownership to finish the year that there is still a fair amount of SuperCoaches that steer clear for principled or sentimental reasons.

In 2018 Lodge averaged 53. Solid but nothing to write home about and certainly nothing to lift him into the top echelon of FRF in SuperCoach.

Come 2019 and for the first 10 rounds it was much of the same with Lodge averaging 52PPG.

However from rounds 11-25 Lodge averaged 68PPG. This was only bettered by one FRF, of course, his teammate Payne Haas.

One thing I’ve learnt from watching Seibold coach over the last two years is that he likes to play his best players for as long as he can.

Exhibit-A is Payne Haas and Exhibit-B is Matt Lodge whose average minutes went from 48 to 55 under Seibold in 2019. Don’t be surprised if he sees more minutes per game in 2020.

David Fifita – 2RF – $501,900

Fifita meandered along scoring mediocre scores from pretty ordinary minutes for most of the year and then bang! He has arrived in the NRL and is confident he can run over anyone, particularly on an edge.

Like Kikau he doesn’t require a lot of creative footy inside him, just give him early ball and sit back and watch the carnage unfold.

From rounds 19-26 in 2019 Fifita averaged 79PPG. So the question is was it just a good run to end the season or is this the new norm for David Fifita? It’ll take a brave man or woman to bet against him.   

Jake Turpin – HOK/HFB – $336,600

I know what you’re thinking…… Why does he have so many Broncos? Partially it’s because I believe they are top 4 bound in 2020 and partially because of the changes Seibold is apparently making during the off-season.

By all reports Turpin has usurped Andrew McCullough as the number one rake at the Broncos. History tells us Seibold likes an 80-minute dummy-half.

While Michael Maguire chopped and changed with Robbie Farah and Damien Cook, as soon as Seibold took over he made the call that he couldn’t carry both in the South Sydney side. Subsequently Cook got the nod and he hasn’t looked back going on to represent his state and country and become a Supercoach gun.

The situation at the Broncos has some eerie similarities. Turpin is the young up-and-comer. Yes, granted he’s a bit rough around the edges, however he is undoubtedly a playmaker and he has a lot to like about him.

If he gets the 80-minute hooker role at the Broncos he has to be a strong consideration for SuperCoaches at his price.

Cronulla Sharks

Blayke Brailey – HKR – $201,000

It’s an interesting move by the Sharks to let Jayden Brailey go and keep his younger brother Blayke. One must assume they believe he is the better long-term proposition in the hooking role.

It’s very hard to see him not making significant money with the price he starts at, however how he will score is a bit of an unknown.

My initial feeling is he is more likely to average 35-45PPG than he is to hit the 50+ mark a game. Brailey will be a very popular option with SuperCoaches trying to squeeze all they can into their team.

I’m on the fence with him at the moment, preferring to look at maybe a Koroisau or Turpin to go along with Cook. 

Jack Williams – 2RF – $397,200

The only question mark over Jack Williams is how many minutes John Morris is going to play him.

His PPM is top shelf (1.14 in 2019) and he looks hard to leave out as a mid-ranger who only requires an increased role to become really SuperCoach relevant. Gallen departs and he steps in to the spot and hopefully for prospective owners 60+ minutes.

Manly Sea Eagles

Manase Fainu – HOK – $497,000

There are two clouds hanging over Manase Fainu’s head. One is his pending court case for an alleged church stabbing and the other is a shoulder injury that is set to see him miss a number of the early rounds if he is found not guilty. He was the first player I had pencilled in for 2020 and now I have scratched him until further notice. Based on what he showed in 2019 he has the potential to be a SuperCoach great.

Jake Trbojevic – 2RF – $583,900

It wasn’t surprising to me that Jake Trbojevic had surgery this off-season. He just seemed a bit off this year. Many seasoned SuperCoaches will be looking at his price tag and licking their lips at being able to get him so cheap.

I’m not really sure when it comes to ‘Jurbo’ how his 2020 season will go. Part of me thinks he’s a great player and he’ll rebound back to the SuperCoach gun he once was and the other part thinks he’s maybe headed in the same direction as James Graham.

When Graham came to the NRL he was a revelation with his creativity and short passing but he has weathered some serious punishment and now he is a grinder.

Jurbo looked similar last year. Both Graham and Trbojevic lack leg speed and in a game increasingly moving towards fast, mobile lock forwards like Cam Murray and Victor Radley the concern is how they keep up.

Then I check myself again and look at the cold hard stats. In 2017 and 2018 Jurbo averaged over 70PPG and in both years he scored over 60 points in 70 percent of his games.

That is what you call a bonafide Supercoach gun. 2019 his average dropped to 63PPG seeing him finish 10th (in PPM average) amongst 2RFs. So the question is was 2019 just an aberration from a gun playing injured or the start of the decline?

Moses Suli – CTW – $361,500

Suli is young and has untapped potential as he showed in the finals last year. There are few SC stats to support buying him and starting with him but keep a close eye on him throughout the year. He’s capable of making a 6-8 week run of big scores as are a few other CTW’s like Waqa Blake and Jack Bird.

Manly have some of the most promising untried rookies that could turn into SuperCoach gold if they get the opportunity through form or injury. Keep an eye out for Albert Hopoate, Ben Trbojevic and Josh Schuster.

Parramatta Eels

Ryan Matterson – 2RF – $626,200

I feel like Matterson will thrive at the Eels. He never really seemed happy at the Wests Tigers as he was shifted between the edge and the middle and even played some hooker.

I think Matterson sees himself as an edge player and he has layers to his game that would make Eels fans feel positive about season 2020.

Manu Ma’u is a big loss but I see Matterson slotting straight in on the right edge at the Eels and I believe you will see him play 80-minutes per game.

He had some issues in 2018 with concussions but in 2020 Matterson played all 24 games for the Tigers and never registered a SuperCoach score under 50 points. That’s amazing consistency. Granted he scored in between 50-60 for 11 of the 24 games, however my belief is he is going to a better team with more attack in them and he will be given more opportunities to score attacking and creative points.

Mitch Moses – HFB – $579,300

It’s fair to say that Mitchell Moses matured last year as a player and that did wonders for his SuperCoach output.

I will look seriously at getting Moses into my team at some stage but my advice to SuperCoaches is to study the Eels draw closely.

Overall Moses averaged a highly respectable 62.3PPG in 2019. Only Shaun Johnson and Nathan Cleary averaged more than him in the HFB position.

Take a deeper look and you’ll see when Moses played at home at Western Sydney Stadium his average rose to 72.

The Eels also played three home games that weren’t in the new stadium. Before its opening they played both the Roosters and Sharks at ANZ Stadium and Moses scored 28 and 112 points respectively in those games. They also took a game to Darwin against the Raiders and Moses scored 64 in that.  

SUPERCOACH TERMINOLOGY KEY

MPG = Minutes per game

PPG = Points per game

PPM = Points per minute

BPG = Base per game (point accrued in tackles + runs + missed tackles)

POD = Point of difference

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