With the 2020 season rapidly approaching, SuperCoaches are in a panic as they face what appears to be the fewest amount of genuine cheapies to begin the year.
We’ve assessed every player below $300k with genuine NRL credentials in 2020, including a few additional players of interest who have either impressed during pre-season or have been selected by SuperCoaches.
The rankings are assessed on Round 1 SuperCoach buy credentials, rather than specific points output or even starting prospects.
*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations.
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Brailey looks to be just about the only locked in cheapie playing a starting role in the new season. With brother Jayden moving to the Knights, Blayke looks set to start at hooker for the Sharks. Unfortunately, hooker Cameron King did his ACL during the pre-season and will miss the year. While horrible news for the man himself, it bodes well for Brailey’s 80-minute credentials. Brother Jayden was a hard-nosed worker at hooker, while Blayke provides significantly more attacking threat with his running game. Don’t expect monster output from Brailey, in 2019 he averaged 22PPG, in 30MPG, at an output of 0.73PPM. Nonetheless, with a lack of cheapies on offer he’s as close to a must-have as you’ll get to begin the year.
Barring injury, Luai should be in every team from Round 1. Due to the Maloney-Cleary combination last season, Luai averaged just 26PPG in 38MPG. Luai has a SuperCoach friendly game as he’s consistently taking the line on and posing an attacking threat. Playmaker Matt Burton has impressed thus far in pre-season, but Luai is still expected to get the first crack at the No.6 jumper.
He’s also likely to kick goals in the absence of Nathan Cleary over Origin or if injured. While he’s a must own, he’s not a must play in 17s. Penrith have a savage opening to the season, and it could take time to gel with his new halves partner, so he may be a slow-burner in regards to scoring and price rises, but they will come.
Chances: Luai looks to have secured the Round one halves role.
3) Billy Magoulias || Sharks || $221,700 || 2RF || Top 30: Yes
Team list Tuesday at Cronulla will be very interesting with Paul Gallen’s vacant lock role up for grabs. Jack Williams looks set to secure the spot, but Magoulias is in competition for the starting role. He’s set to win a bench spot regardless, so he’ll be popular to begin the year, particularly with Andrew Fifita reportedly starting the season underdone with a few niggles. If a utility such as Connor Tracey is named on the bench it would be significant for Magoulias who should see more game time.
Chances: Should almost certainly play off the bench, is an outside chance at starting at lock.
4) Billy Walters || Tigers || $201,000 || HFB-HOK || Top 30: Yes
The son of Queensland coach Kevin Walters starred at the Perth Nines to press his case for the top grade. The 26-year-old played two games for Melbourne in 2019, an 80-minute starting role in the halves and a two-minute bench stint. Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye are both vying for the starting hooker role. A strong pre-season showing, along with an injury to Moses Mbye, has strengthened Walters’ chances of a run in the NRL substantially.
Chances: The relative mystery surrounding the Tigers spine makes Walters’ credentials hard to assess. He’s been highly impressive thus far in the pre-season though, so he may even jag a starting role at hooker come round one, gold!
Musgrove impressed in the club’s pre-season trial against Penrith and is in strong contention for a bench spot. The Tigers aren’t exactly stacked with high quality front-row stocks, so there’s a massive opportunity for Musgrove to earn decent minutes. He’s highly regard and could find decent minutes as the season progresses.
Chances: Musgrove could become a valuable slow-burning cash cow. The cash might take time, but we need every penny we can get this season.
6) Sean Keppie || Manly || $201,000 || FRF || Top 30: Yes
Manly’s forward depth is lacking dramatically, and Trbojevic, Fonua-Blake, Gosiewski and Paseka are all expected to miss approximately the first 1-4 Rounds. This is massive for Keppie, who was already a strong chance at a bench role prior to the injuries. He made his debut for Manly in Round 25 last season. Keppie plays lock or second-row, and has the ability to go the distance. He played the entire 80-minutes on five occasions last season in NSW Cup, several of which were while playing in the middle of the park.
Chances: With Manly’s early season injury crisis, Keppie may even start in the front-row. Even once the likes of AFB and Trbojevic return, he could play reasonable minutes off the bench. He looks to be one of the better forward cheapies.
7) Kurt Mann || Knights || $287,100 || FLB-CTW || Top 30: Yes
While not yet locked in, Mann appears likely to play five-eighth in Round 1. Job security, and the threat of dropping to No.14, are a real issue with the versatile Mann. Regardless, if he locks in a starting role he’ll be hard to pass up despite the awkward price. He’s averaged 50PPG in the past, so he could be a valuable cash-cow and a decent starting 17 option if required. Phoenix Crossland’s return from injury early in the season is a concern. Yes, he may be a trap, but with minimal cheapies on offer it could be a risk we have to take.
Chances: Should start the year at 5/8, job security is a major issue.
The former Bronco will likely feature at some stage of the year, but may need a few injuries first. Bradman Best will miss the opening few weeks, as will Tautau Moga, with Enari Tuala likely to start at centre. Well above basement price at $286k, he’ll need an assured wing role to come into any genuine consideration.
Chances: It’s hard to assess where Shibasaki sits in the outside backs pecking order, but he appears a reasonable way down. Even if named for Round 1, the early returns of Moga and Best would likely displace him.
10) Jason Saab || Dragons || $271,100 || CTW || Top 30: Yes
Saab looks unlikely to earn a Round 1 wing spot for the Dragons, with Mikaele Ravalawa appearing to be preferred. He played three games last season for an average of 42PPG. Unfortunately, his limited games last season and strong showings has him well above basement price. Tristan Sailor is also in contention.
Chances: Saab looks like he may miss out on Round 1, with Ravalawa named to start on the wing in the Charity Shield. If he misses, he should remain next in line.
Taulagi’s rank is based on him starting on the wing for the Cowboys. He’s another one who is awkwardly priced based on his six games in 2019 where he averaged 33PPG. There’s depth in the outside backs at the Cowboys, but very few stars, so Taulagi has every chance to earn a wing spot in Round 1. With the added firepower in the backline this year he should see plenty of space and hopefully try-scoring opportunities.
Chances: In line to start the season on the wing, but job security is an issue.
Moga is in doubt for Round 1 with a niggling injury, but will start at centre if available. Constantly injured, Moga has only played over six games once in the past five seasons. It was in 2017, where he managed 24 games for a healthy average of 52PPG. Yes, there’s an extremely obvious injury risk, along with job security issues, but with an absence of cheapies he may be worth the punt.
Chances: On return from injury, hopefully Round 1, he should get a start and have a chance to win the permanent role while Bradman Best is out.
13) Bradman Best || Knights || $240,700 || FLB-CTW || Top 30: Yes
Best looked right at home in the top grade in three games last season. Unfortunately he starts $70k over basement price, but he’s one of very few players we’re confident will get a run on return from injury. In the very small sample size from 2019, he averaged 37PPG with one try to his name. Playing outside Kalyn Ponga is a huge bonus, while the Knights pose plenty of attacking threat across the park. Best suffered a pre-season injury and will miss the first few rounds of the season.
Chances: Would have started at centre prior to injury. Should return to top grade when fit, however injury has opened a door for Tuala and Moga to stake their claims.
Coates rose to prominence following a freakish performance for Queensland in the U18s Origin clash last year. The 18-year-old would go on to score two tries on debut in the QLD Cup for Tweed Heads, which led to three NRL games for the Broncos. The kid has serious talent, and while he’s stuck behind some serious crop at Red Hill, he’s a big chance to feature again in 2020 at some stage of the year. With a backline consisting of Isaako, Boyd, Oates, Staggs, Bird and then Kahu, Arthars and Perese (stood down) as depth, Coates has some work to do to earn a call up. With an average of just 24PPG in his three outings he remains at a cheap starting price. Corey Oates is expected to be fit for Round 1 despite previous doubts.
Chances: It’s a stacked pecking order, but Coates looks to sit high up. While a chance for Round 1 following a big pre-season thus far, he’s probably still an injury away from a start.
15) Tommy Talau || Tigers || $208,200 || CTW || Top 30: Yes
Talau’s Round 1 hopes decreased significantly with the proposed Grant-Momirovski player swap falling through. Regardless, he comes with enormous wraps and looks one of the safer options to start as a non-playing reserve if he isn’t named for Round 1. While it’s not advised to pick any non-players to start the season, Talau appears one of the better options if we’re void of cheapies. Pre-season trials will provide an enormous guide for SuperCoaches leading into the season opener.
Chances: Outside chance for Round 1, likely one injury or demotion away from a start.
The club hopper burst into Round 1 contention following a blistering pre-season with the Dragons. Like all the forwards around him, Fuimaono will struggle to see significant minutes, but at just $201k he may not need many to earn some coin. His versatility is also key, with the ability to play in the middle, edge or even at centre. His output isn’t great, having a PPM of just 0.45, 0.44 and 0.6 in the past three years in fairly limited game time. As a result, he’s probably not a genuine option in Round 1, but monitor minutes carefully and jump on if he sees time on the park.
Chances: Strong for Round 1, minutes will be the issue.
The 21-year-old can play in the middle or edge as a forward and rocketed into contention following a strong pre-season showing for the Rabbitohs. The club aren’t loaded with depth, and they have several forwards returning from injury in Round 1, so he may sneak on to the bench. His dual position available is also extremely useful.
Chances: There’s an opportunity to win minutes at the Rabbitohs, he’ll be a huge watch early on if named in the 17.
Manly’s forward depth is lacking dramatically, so there’s an opportunity for Olakau’ata. The back-rower played an 80-minute role in the NSW Cup for Blacktown last season. He busts a mountain of tackles and has a strong work ethic, so if minutes arrive in time he could become a valuable cheapie.
Chances: He’s a serious chance at a bench spot due to the delayed returns of several forwards. However, be very wary of the returning stars which will push him out of the side early on in the year.
Tuala has plenty of talent and has a SuperCoach friendly game with quality tackle-busting ability. While in line for a Round 1 starting spot, he’s awkwardly priced and his job security looks fragile with Moga and Best due back from injury early in the season. As a result, tread carefully when assessing in SuperCoach come Round 1 teams.
Chances: Could well start in Round 1, but may become two injuries away once cattle return early on.
The Dragons forward suffered a pre-season injury and may miss the opening to the season. On return, he’s shown enough to suggest he’ll win a bench role for the Red V, meaning he should warrant serious SuperCoach consideration. His potential delayed start to the season would allow an easy downgrade/sidewise trade from another cheapie if he were to miss games, should he be given reasonable minutes.
Chances: Should join the bench on return from injury, minutes are a concern.
21) Tom Amone || Rabbitohs || $211,900 || FRF | Top 30: Yes
With Sam and George Burgess moving on, and Cam Murray shifting to an edge, there’s minutes to be won in the middle for South Sydney. In five games last season, Amone averaged 23PPG in 22MPG. While he’s hardly a thrilling cheapie option, he could prove a decent slow-burning cash-cow from the bench if he can increase his minutes to 30+ which seems achievable.
Chances: Should play limited minutes from the bench in Round 1.
The 20-year-old Tongan back-rower impressed during the Warriors pre-season and is in contention for a bench role in Round 1. He looks choc full of potential and could be an under the radar cheapie in 2020.
Chances: Looks every chance of nabbing a bench spot on talent alone, but the sample size is very small.
Once touted as a Round 1 starter, Crossland now appears no chance for the season opener. The promising rookie is suffering from a groin condition, osteitis pubis, causing serious interruptions to his pre-season training. The hype surrounding the playmaker suggests he’ll get a start at some stage in the season, potentially early, but realistically it’ll come down to how Kurt Mann and the side themselves are performing. With Connor Watson lurking, it further clouds the picture around Crossland. He looks too much of a risk to start as a non-playing reserve.
Chances: Round 4 onwards, huge chance when fully fit.
In three games last season, Wakeham averaged 43PPG in 71MPG. This has seen a rather annoying price rise, but he certainly remains affordable should he find himself in the starting side at any point. The injury to Kieran Foran helps his case immensely, with Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis likely to get the start in Round 1. The Fijian international has every opportunity to force his way into the team though, so here’s hoping.
Chances: Probably not for Round 1, but could find himself in the NRL at any stage.
The former Rooster made the mid-season switch to the Warriors in 2019. There he played two games, scoring 33 and 24 points in 31MPG. With Sam Lisone on his way out of the Warriors, there’s an opportunity to jag a bench role. Curran could turn into a slow-burning cash-cow in time.
Chances: Curran is a strong chance for Round 1, and would warrant serious consideration should the Warriors opt for a utility on the bench, which is likely with Nikorima and CHT in the mix.
Hopefully a switch from Parramatta to the Gold Coast will pay dividends for Leleisiuao. Stuck behind Ferguson, Sivo and Parry in Sydney kept him from the top grade. He looks every chance at cracking the Titans starting side with much weaker outside back stocks. He’s another to keep an eye on in trials as he could be a potential non-playing reserve option to begin the year if he appears next in line for a starting role (if he misses out initially). Between Don, Sami and Copley, you have reliable outside backs without any stars.
Chances: It’s hard to get a gauge on where Leleisiuao sits in the pecking order at the Titans. He’s probably one, maybe two injuries away from a start.
Initially tipped for the wing role at the Dragons, Sailor appears to have fallen below Saab and possibly Ravalawa in the pecking order. He played three games last season for an average of 38PPG. His ranking could easily change immediately if named in Round 1.
Chances: Appears to be an injury or two away, but he’s very close to a starting spot.
29) Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow || Cowboys || $171,900 || CTW-FLB || Top 30: No (1 spot available)
Tabuai-Fidow, or ‘The Hammer’, recently rose to prominence having lit up the Perth Nines. The Cowboys have one spot to fill in their 30-man squad, with the 18-year-old a chance at filling the vacancy. As a dual FLB/CTW at basement price, he would be absolute gold if able to nab a starting spot in Round 1. The Cowboys are yet to settle on a wing and centre spot, so he’s a chance if he can prove he’s up to the task throughout pre-season.
Chances: He’s a red-hot chance to get the final roster spot at the Cowboys. While a Round 1 spot seems optimistic, he can earn an NRL debut in 2020.
30) Morgan Harper || Bulldogs || $227,700 || CTW || Top 30: Yes
There’s not a lot of strike power or depth in the outside backs at the Dogs, so Harper has every opportunity to earn a centre berth, potentially as soon as Round 1. The 21-year-old was much hyped heading in the 2019 season, but wasn’t handed a debut until Round 25. In that game, his 35 points were created from a monster 33 in base stats. Nick Meaney suffered a pre-season hamstring strain and may miss the early part of the season, further enhancing Harper’s credentials.
Chances: Harper is a smokey for Round 1, but is more likely to be an injury or two off a start.
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)