Trial recap part one: SuperCoach takes from crucial weekend

With a serious mind for NRL and SuperCoach, 2019 runner-up Walson Carlos recaps the weekend trial action.

Expert Analysis Pre-season

Following on from his preview of the weekend’s trial action, 2019 NRL SuperCoach runner-up Walson Carlos answers the burning questions from the key clashes.

In part one of the recap, he analyses the stars, flops and players to keep an eye out for from our final look at teams before teams drop on Tuesday.

Sign up to SC Playbook for detailed pre-season analysis of every top 17 player from every club in the competition and more + over 200 additional articles once the season kicks off.

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Panthers v Eels

Saturday 4pm at Bega Recreation Ground

Minutes Check: Indications from the game suggest that Penrith hooker Api Koroisau will play 80-minutes and Parramatta pair Nathan Brown and Junior Paulo 50-60 minutes.

Positional battle: TLT will tell the true story, but I feel as though Jarome Luai will start at 14 and Matt Burton as 6 with Tyrone May returning in Round 5 once his suspension ends.

Burning Question answered: Can Koroisau lock in an 80-minutes role at hooker for Panthers?

Yes, Ivan Cleary stated in his halftime interview that the Panthers really want Koroisau to play 80-minutes. Furthermore, he looked good during his time on the ground and scored well for SC.

Other key SC observations

  • Isaah Yeo looked great in the lock role and scored well for SC. James Fisher-Harris will return however, forcing Yeo to play on the right edge if he can beat out Liam Martin and Kurt Capewell.
  • Ryan Matterson looked solid and looks set to deliver at or around his value.
  • Mitch Moses started very slowly, but was electric at times and took control of the game at vital periods and came up with numerous big plays.
  • Nathan Cleary had the run of the team and played both sides of the ruck. His involvements, goal-kicking and defensive workload make him very hard to leave out of any Round 1 side.
  • Brian To’o and Josh Mansour look like sound plays if you are starting with mid-range priced CTW’s.
  • Keep Stephen Crichton on your watchlist – this lad can play.
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Storm v Cowboys

Saturday 5.30pm at Casey Fields, Melbourne 

Minutes Check: The Storm’s Dale Finucane averaged close to 60-minutes in games last year, and whilst he will see a minor uptick in that while Brandon Smith is out, his increased involvement could push into the 60+ average range for 2RFs.

North Queensland’s Reece Robson looks likely to split time at dummy half with Jake Granville, sadly making him not relevant to SC at this stage.

Positional battle: Jake Clifford was fair without setting the world on fire. I fully expect Scott Drinkwater to be named to start at 6 for the Storm.

Burning Question answered: Is Ryan Papenhuyzen’s outrageous involvement level going to decrease, increase or stay the same?

Expect the same involvement level from Papenhuyzen. He was pushing up off the ball on almost every play and will be a SC must in my opinion because he’s seriously under-priced.

Other key SC observations

  • The Storm look very, very sharp and they have had very limited roster turnover in the off-season, so expect them to start the season strongly as they almost always do.  
  • The Cowboys looked a bit clunky and the game model for attack did look similar to the last few years with very little second phase play. This doesn’t bode well for Esan Marsters’ offloading game.
  • Michael Morgan was typically ordinary in patches and really good in others.
  • A lot of the Cowboys attack centres around Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes.
  • Scott Drinkwater may open up the Cowboys left side attack more as he has been impressive in the Perth Nines and other trials during pre-season.
  • Cam Munster looks set to deliver up to his price in value.
  • Harry Grant is too good to not be playing starting hooker at an NRL club, but currently he is behind maybe the greatest hooker we’ve seen, so he’ll have to be patient and bide his time I guess. I’m not sure how they will use him off the bench.

Rabbitohs v Dragons

Saturday 7.00pm at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee

Minutes Check: South Sydney’s Jaydn Su’A was injured which will probably make him a POD option with all the mid-range gold emerging in the 2RF, he drops out of contention for mine. Cameron Murray, I feel based on the trial, will play 80-minutes with the majority of it on the edge along with some stints in the middle.

This can only be good for his SuperCoach output in my opinion. Liam Knight’s output and game style and his likelihood of getting at least 60-minutes makes him almost a must-have.

For the Dragons, Trent Merrin is a risk minutes wise, but looks good for an NRL return. Tyrell Fuimaono is an interesting one – at just above bargain basement price, his pre-season has been very good, but it’s hard to see where he fits. He looks too much of a risk coming off the bench.

Positional battle: Mikaele Ravalawa probably beats out Jason Saab and Tristan Sailor for a wing role, but I wasn’t considering any of the three seriously anyway.

Burning Question answered: How does Cameron Murray’s new role as left side 2RF affect his minutes and SC scores?

The answer is a resounding yes for me. Murray is set to at least match his value and quite possibly exceed it.

Will Trent Merrin receive enough minutes to be relevant in SC again?

Unsure – we’ll have to wait and see.

Other key SC observations

  • Latrell Mitchell had some quality touches. Definite for later in the year – his kicking game was surprisingly good
  • Left side looks lethal for Souths and I like their game style. Cody Walker is playing both sides of the ruck and looks very sharp sniffing around.
  • Junior Tatola appeared fitter and played an increased role.
  • Zac Lomax did nothing.
  • Brayden Wiliame is looming as a serious cheapie option in CTW. I wouldn’t be surprised if he jagged the left centre spot over Tim Lafai to start the season.
  • Keaon Koloamatagi played good minutes on the back of the HIA to Su’A and went well – he’s a player of the future.
  • Patrick Mago might have won a bench spot, that was until he tore his pec. Mago is now expected to miss 12 weeks of action. It was an outstanding display from Mago in that second half. Powerful, hungry and skilful. Souths have good depth coming through no doubt, including Blake Taaffe who is a good back up halfback for Reynolds.

Sign up to SC Playbook for detailed pre-season analysis of every top 17 player from every club in the competition and more + over 200 additional articles once the season kicks off.

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Broncos v Titans

Saturday 8.00pm at Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane

Minutes Check: Brisbane’s Tom Flegler is SC relevant with his minutes and the injury query over Alex Glenn.

Jake Turpin is a scratch with the news he will share time with McCullough.

Tevita Pangai Jnr…..if you want that risk, I wish you all the best for the ride.

Patrick Carrigan played great minutes and had great output. Lock him in for Round 1 teams.  

For the Titans, Tyrone Peachey again looks an impact player without a real position, and for that reason I’ll be steering clear of Gold Coast CTW’s and 2RF’s because they are who he’s most likely to replace.

Jai Arrow looks fit enough to play big minutes and looks seriously undervalued. The only threat is Peachey coming on in the middle, however he could play front-row and co-exist with Peachey if that does happen.  

Bryce Cartwright is a close watch on actual game minutes.

Positional battle: By all good reports, Jack Bird has beaten out Jamayne Isaako for the fullback position with Isaako set to struggle to make the 17.

Burning Question: What sort of SC scoring potential does Jack Bird have at FLB for the Broncos?

Well thanks to a head high which resulted in an untimely concussion, it’s difficult to say with any certainty. Paying up nearly $500k for a CTW you are backing them to go high 50’s maybe even 60+ for the first five weeks to vindicate that decision. I think he can do it absolutely, but more likely a cheapie such as Tommy Talau (with the Mbye injury) emerges that allows me to shore up a 2RF who’s scoring output is safer.

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Other key SC observations

  • Some of the reporting in the Brisbane press was sensationalist in nature. It was a trial and the Broncos looked fine at stages. A couple of tries in the middle were let in because big Rhys Kennedy was exposed laterally in defence, probably killing his chances of a call up any time soon. TPJ also had some questionable moments in defence which might mean Seibold uses him in the middle instead.
  • The Titans looked capable and will draw a lot of confidence out of the second half. They have to, because they need to have something going for them to lead into the season.
  • A lot of hype about AJ Brimson is coming out – I’m a wait and see for that one.
  • For me, Arrow is all I’m looking at for my Round 1 SC team from the Gold Coast with a watch on Cartwright’s role and minutes.
  • At the Broncos, I will consider seriously Bird, Staggs (if he gets goal-kicking), Milford and Flegler.
  • Fifita, Haas and Carrigan are locks for me.


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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