Draft positional breakdown: Five-eighth

The SC Spy takes an in-depth look at the five-eighth position, and provides a selection strategy come Draft day.

Draft Breakdown Pre Season

Hello again troops!

So far this year I have looked at fullback, centre/wing and halfbacks for NRL SuperCoach Draft.

I also plan to have a look in the coming weeks at an overall style Draft article outlining priority positions, sleepers, guys to avoid and so on. Before this though, I will cover off on each remaining position starting with five-eighth.

Looking at position depth I think it is more important to lock in a five-eighth then a halfback (unless you want a real top gun halfback).

This is due to the substantial options at halfback and the lack of quality depth at five-eighth.

Therefore, if you do grab a dual position player who covers both halfback and five-eighth, make sure you select them in the five-eighth position.

This then allows you to go back and grab a solid halfback later if required and not potentially run short of options or be stuck with a high-risk player.

Note: This doesn’t apply for Shaun Johnson, please read his specific blurb if you want him.

Let’s take a look at my top ranked players based on a mixture of value as well as overall ability.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations and an explanation of tiers in Draft.

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TOP TIER

  1. CAMERON MUNSTER

Coming off an average of 69PPG last year in his second full year without Cooper Cronk we have some serious point scoring ability.

Whilst only averaging 59PPG in 2018, Cam will only get better as a player as he looks to replicate the high 60s average of last season and maybe even get that into the 70s, if he can produce a monster year.

The only real risk is if he dips back towards the 2018 average, but even 60PPG or so is nothing to be laughed at. 

Additionally, he did average 67PPG the year previous and that was majority at five-eighth.

Consensus – He is a gun. He has a great base for his position as well as attacking stats and won’t let you down, barring injury of course.

2. CODY WALKER

This man has averaged between 60 & 67PPG in the last four years and as a huge bonus, especially for the Draft format, has played the majority of games each year (unlike SJ below who has tended to miss games at times and is an older body).

Prior to Origin and subsequent Origin axing last year, Walker averaged 80.3PPG over the first ten weeks.

There is every chance he can get back to that sort of form, especially with Latrell Mitchell outside him demanding extra attention.

This fact alone could open up more running opportunities as well as allow him to support Latrell’s deadly left arm offload or simply back up the middle and score easy four pointers following Latrell created busts.

Consensus – I like him a lot as a pick and the more I think about it I could even have him at number 1. I will want one of Cody or Munster in my side if at all possible.

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3. SHAUN JOHNSON

Read this carefully. SJ has always been an absolute SuperCoach gun. His averages over the past five years of 63, 64, 72, 69 and 71PPG make him seem like a sure bet.

The issue is twofold. Firstly, he has only ever played more than 18 games once in those five years (he played 18 and 17 games every year outside of 2016).

That’s consistently around eight or nine games missed which is costly in Draft as you can’t afford to sell him unlike in Classic mode.

That’s eight or nine games relying on a backup half. Perhaps for SJ you can take him at halfback and then look at locking in a semi solid low-end half late in the Draft who will average 40-50 as your first bench spot.

The depth of halfbacks may certainly make this possible and allow you to take SJ and have coverage if he does go down injured.

You can also do this if taking him at five-eighth, but there is less depth it appears so the other option is better.

The second issue I have is that his speed is starting to take a hit in the last couple of years and continuous injuries have not helped my man here.

That doesn’t bode well for his scores as his runs, tackle breaks and tries all fall away as he looks to pass and kick more as he gets older (think the reinvention of Benji).

As you can see above, his scores have tailed off from the 70s to lower-mid 60s the last two years.

Okay, so where do we land with SJ?

He may well end up as a top three averaging half, as long as he can hold the goal-kicking duties year-round (I think he will).

However, there is a huge risk on the amount of games played and whether his older body can produce the scores we need for a top end half.

I’d definitely take the above two guys ahead of SJ or wait until later in the Draft to lock in one of the solid contributors to follow.

In saying all of this, feel free to take the punt if you’re that way inclined. It could be a title winning move if he can stay healthy, particularly considering it appears there is a lack of quality five-eighths around him.

Especially given he averaged 80+ to finish last season after getting benched late in a game.

Caveat – SJ is basically in my top three favourite players of all time, so if I’m wary you probably should be too. In saying this, I’ll probably end up taking him if he falls even a little, ignoring all of my above logic purely due to pure man crush factor!

Consensus – If you want to punt on him do it in Classic, but I’d personally advise avoiding going too early on SJ in Draft format.

NEXT TIER

4. LUKE KEARY

I’m honestly torn here, especially with the lack of reliable mid-range five-eighths.

With no Latrell this year, how much does that hurt Keary?

See Cody Walker above and we have the opposite situation. More attention on Keary (although it’s not like the Roosters lack other stars!), and then we have the concussion factor.

If Keary cops a few more knocks, is there a risk of extended time off?

This may or may not unfold of course but the way little Luke plays it’s always a chance and is something to consider.

I therefore think he is a slight risk and I may even look at Flanagan instead of him as discussed above, especially given the goal-kicking factor.

It is noted that without Cronk last year Keary averaged 64PPG in three games (taking out a concussion affected game) which is good in a small sample size.

Consensus – Genuinely torn! There’s quality upside and he is a standout player in real NRL, but will it translate to points for your team year round?

He could easily go as the fourth ranked five-eighth, but maybe another option later in the Draft is worth looking at pending early team selections and balance. I’m happy to discuss this further with anyone who wants to chat on the page or via Twitter.

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5. ANTHONY MILFORD

Oh Tony. I owned Milford a lot in the early years and it was simply magic. He has won me titles before and in fact he was actually in my side last year, but his return on investment was nothing in comparison to the young, fit, agile Tony Milford (Youtube ‘Milford highlights’ from his Canberra days if you want some serious enjoyment…)

The last two years has seen a serious drop off and has burned me at times quite badly.

In short, a fit Milf, is a good Milf, (yes, I see it), but the way it’s going I’m just not convinced he can turn back the clock despite still being only 25-years-old.

The NRL Nines and trials is a serious watch to see how he is looking.

Consensus – I still think there is a shot at value. I just wouldn’t personally have the balls to take him too high.

Sixth best five-eighth seems reasonable though and if you do take him you never know what may happen.

A return to the days of averaging around 70PPG is not out of the question, though I don’t think it will happen.

60PPG is more of a reasonable expectation if he is fit and firing. Come on Milf, fire up!

6. ALEXANDER BRIMSON

His first full year with a locked in starting spot awaits, we hope. Brimson has serious talent and would make a good flyer for our Draft side to see how he goes. The boy can move! He averaged 53.5PPG at starting fullback last season. He could go off!

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7. JACK WIGHTON

The Canberra playmaker generally averages mid 50s and may improve on last year after a full season at five-eighth.

Unlike others, he is locked into the side and typically plays most games each year.

He looks a pretty solid selection for mine once the big boys are off the board because you know what you will get with Jack.

The only downside is that he won’t tend to have 100+ scores as his ceiling is capped a little, but if he averages mid 50s and plays every game you won’t complain too much.

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8. MATT MOYLAN

I think Moylan has some a genuine chance to return to SuperCoach relevance.

But I’m terrified of hamstrings and therefore see it as a huge risk. Note the theme amongst five-eighths so far.

Moylan is already in doubt for Round 1 as the club look to ease him back from another year riddled with injury.

There’s lots of risk on many of the guys so I’m already thinking that taking Munster or Cody Walker early could be the right option. More to come on this in a few weeks.

Between 2015-17 Moylan averaged between 59-61PPG before a few down years, including last year’s injury hit season. Those solid averages are not that long ago, but will he be healthy?

Consensus – Moylan should have a good combination sweeping off SJ on that right edge. It’s really only the hamstring concerns holding me back from Moylan being in line with Keary and Milford, if not better.

Be wary and don’t jump too soon because if his hammies go again you may be playing with a very weak five eight position.

Trust your gut on Moylan, but I’ll be keeping a strong eye on him if he slips down the Draft board.

Again, take a reasonable backup five-eighth later on if you do pick Moylan.

9. KYLE FLANAGAN

Goal-kicking and slotting into a star-studded Roosters team reads very well for Kyle Flanagan.

Looking at last year, Flanagan averaged just a touch under 55PPG in seven starting matches.

Add in further goal-kicking duties and the star cast of teammates at his disposal and that average could potentially jump quite a lot.

While it is a small sample size, I am going to take a punt here and say he will average in the 60s.

If my Spring Racing form continues and I manage to nail this one it could be some serious value.

Much like the horses though, nothing is set in stone and that’s the beauty of Supercoach. I can therefore understand if you might want to lock in someone more tried and tested but I like him.

Caveat – He is only kicking at 61% in his short career but his record in lower grades and juniors is quite good, and the hope would be that he will start to knock them over consistently and ensure he keeps the duties.

Consensus – I will be looking to take him above everyone to follow in this list purely due to his upside and the fact that he now plays for Easts.

Additionally, you likely won’t have to use as high a pick for Kyle as you will for someone like Luke Keary and perhaps even Moylan and co. He also should lock down the starting role barring disaster.

OTHERS

GEORGE WILLIAMS

Williams was a gun Super League performer. How he will adapt to the NRL though is anyone’s guess.

I’m not entirely against taking him, but I also believe that if he doesn’t make the transition well and Canberra start losing multiple games then there is a chance Sam Williams comes in for George or another type of reshuffle may occur.

Obviously this may not happen, but the history of English backs struggling in the NRL is real.

If George can buck the trend then he could have great value as a Draft five-eighth. But the risk is there.

COREY NORMAN

Norman is reasonable value after boasting past averages of 53, 48, 53 and 55PPG. It’s nothing to get too excited about, but he should do a job for your side.

DYLAN BROWN

Oh how I love this guy in real NRL. His temperament and class shone through in his rookie season.

How he will evolve SuperCoach wise I’m really not sure, but given how good he is perhaps an average around the 50s could unfold.

Again, barring injury he will do a job for your side in the later rounds of the Draft.

Be aware though that he carried a back problem last season so hopefully he has fixed this.

JAROME LUAI

If named to start you could do worse than Jarome Luai. In 2018, Luai averaged 50PPG in 54MPG.

This dropped back a little in 2019 to 26PPG in 38 minutes. This averages out to a tick under 54PPG over 80-minutes.

Based on the limited footy we’ve seen, the talent is evident, Maloney is gone, and his style of footy is very SuperCoach friendly.

The obvious risk here is that he doesn’t get named for Round 1 or starts the season and then gets displaced. Matt Burton has impressed throughout the pre-season and could be named at any stage.

Consensus – Keep an eye on the pre-season matches and then decide if you are willing to take Luai over the likes of Keary, Moylan and co.

Again, you should be able to use a lower Draft pick on him which could be very useful and then if he is dropped it won’t hurt you as badly.

MICHAEL MORGAN

I can’t not write about Michael Morgan. Before his injury affected 2018 Morgan averaged 59PPG in three straight years.

If you are that way inclined you could take a flyer on him to get back to career best form and realistically average higher than some of the middle tier guys.

Obviously the bounce back may not happen, but even last year’s average of 51PPM is okay if you aren’t taking him up early.

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AVOID

Unfortunately I think Connor Watson is an avoid pending team list Tuesday.

The bloke is a talent, but with no job security I don’t see how you can afford to take him.

I would however look to take a late flyer and put him in a non-playing bench spot just in case he locks down a starting role at any stage or gets extended minutes off the bench.

Just don’t go to early or you may be stuck using a 40-minute bench player in your own starting side.

SUMMARY

There is a lot of risk at five-eighth it seems, but also some lower end guys who can do a solid job (without the upside).

I’m keen to lock in one of Munster of Cody Walker early on at this stage based on what I have written above.

From there it is SJ with risk and a heap of different options. It’s a bit of a lottery to be honest! Hopefully my rankings above can help out.

WHAT ARE TIERS IN SUPERCOACH DRAFT?

When referencing a tier of players this simply means a grouping of players of a particular SuperCoach ability.

The top tier is the elite. The second tier are those players who are not projected to be quite as good as the top tier. Whilst, the third or fourth tiers are getting to those players of less and less value.

The standard of players in each tier will differ depending on each position. Some positions may have some lower tier players who could contribute whilst other positions may be void of options once you get to the third or fourth tier. Each article will make this clear.

Scenario – The top tier is a group of players considered to be the best. For Halfbacks the top tier is projected to be Cleary, Cherry-Evans, Mitch Moses and Shaun Johnson.

The second tier are players like Ben Hunt, Luke Brooks, Jahrome Hughes etc. who are valuable but simply are not as good as the top tier guys, whilst a lower tier player may be someone like Ryley Jacks who has limited value due to not generally being a starting player.

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

2 Responses to “Draft positional breakdown: Five-eighth”

    • Will do mate! Yep five eight is wide open. I’ve taken a punt on Flanno based on a gut feel and watching his style of play previously. To be fair I’d personally probably take Morgan over Moylan as well to be safe (Moylan injury risk) but Moylan has the upside and thus the rank. If healthy he will be good

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