Final Word: Walson Carlos narrows his Round 1 team

2019 SuperCoach runner-up Walson Carlos gives his final thoughts leading into the all-important Round 1.

Final Word

Most weeks I’ll be doing an article on who to Buy, Sell and Hold and exploring the risky POD players that could set you apart from the pack and give you a chance at the 1st prize and the $50k.

This week leading into Round 1 I thought I’d give readers an insight into how I pick my team for Round 1.

I’ve crunched the numbers, and studied the stats and listened to all the latest team news and this is what I’ve got it narrowed down to less than 24 hours out from the NRL season Opener.

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HOOKER

LOCK HIM IN! – Blayke Brailey – Even though Connor Tracey is in the team, I feel Brailey is a lock because he should make money and plenty of it.

SHORTLISTED – My other hooker I am considering Damien Cook, but given the dearth of cheapies in the CTW position actually named in sides it’s very hard to put Cook in for Round 1 this year.

My second option is Cameron Smith, and I think he will start really well by the looks of the Storm’s trial form.

However, Bellamy has stated he will rest Smith at times this year for full games and during others they’ll have Harry Grant on the bench, so that puts me off.

That takes me to my 3rd and most likely option, Api Koroisau, who looks the goods and looks set to get 70-80 minutes and score well.

His injury history and strapping on his knee is somewhat of a concern to me though.

CHEAPIES – Obviously Brailey, but as soon as Harry Grant is at the Wests Tigers playing at least 40 minutes he’ll be in my side.

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FRONT-ROW

LOCK HIM IN! – Payne Haas – If you don’t have him you’re not trying to win SuperCoach.

Liam Knight (also 2RF) – Based on 2019 and his increased lock role in 2020 he has to be in my side.

Pat Carrigan (also 2RF) – Set to be an NRL SuperCoach star. Expect him to average 55+ easily this season, possibly more.

SHORTLISTED – I really like Josh Papalii because of his trial form and the way he finished last year.

I also think that Canberra will keep it fairly forward dominated in the early rounds working off Hodgson, which will suit big Papa!

Corey Horsburgh is another Raider I really want in my team. He’s set for a significant increase in minutes and therefore price rises galore.

Andrew Fifita and Thomas Flegler have also been considerations of mine for FRF.

CHEAPIES – Emre Guler, Patrick Mago (injured), Toby Rudolph and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown. I’m leaning towards Taunoa-Brown.

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SECOND-ROW

LOCK HIM IN! – David Fifita – I’m not sure he’ll go as consistently good as people expect, but I’m not brave enough or silly enough to leave him out altogether. There’s far too much upside.

SHORTLISTED – There’s a lot I’m working my way through for this position. All players I’m considering are Jason Taumalolo, Cam Murray, Ryan Matterson, Jai Arrow, Tohu Harris, Luciano Leilua, Bryce Cartwright, Jack Williams, Joey Tapine and Jayden Su’A.

Right now, I’m leaning towards Arrow, Leilua and probably Murray/Harris.

CHEAPIES – Jamil Hopoate might have some job security issues with the returning Alex Glenn.

Hamole Olakau’atu and Eliesa Katoa are two of the most exciting rookies in the competition. Minutes and job security questions exist, but I believe their talent and ability will shine through over the course of a season.  

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HALFBACK

LOCK HIM IN! – I’ve come around to the fact that Nathan Cleary might just be a lock for SuperCoach this year.

I’ve twisted and turned over this one a bit and I’m still not quite sure I’m at peace with it.

SHORTLISTED – Also considering between Mitch Moses, Luke Brooks and Shaun Johnson. I’m really not sure which way I’m going to go here to be honest. I’m not interested in Brandon Wakeham at this stage, but it could change if he shows me something in the first two weeks. 

CHEAPIES – Billy Walters is the obvious one because he could/should earn some money unless Harry Grant moves and takes his spot before a price rise occurs.

That’s a fair possibility, in which case Paul Turner, Corey Paix and Josh Schuster are all considerations for me as fillers that won’t cause me AE nightmares if I want to use my loop early in the year!

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5/8

LOCK HIM IN! – I don’t have a lock in for 5/8. It’s a tough position, but I think I definitely want another marquee half.

SHORTLISTED – I’m still considering Munster, but his price has me balking and similarly with Cody Walker the tough start to the year has me a bit wary of diving into him.

At the moment, Shaun Johnson is the front-runner for me. He’s tried and tested, although he’s barely been sighted in this pre-season.

Another consideration is to take a mid-range half like George Williams, Scott Drinkwater or the intriguing Chanel Harris-Tavita.

CHEAPIES – Again, given this is the year of the mid-rangers and there is a dearth of cheapies across the board, some due consideration has to be given to whether you compromise the quality of your squad to ensure you have all your reserves actually playing NRL each week.

Personally, I think it’s a legitimate tactic to put some cheapies in that are outside of their club’s top 17 for Round 1.

The Newcastle Knights Tex Hoy and Phoenix Crossland are the two I’m considering.

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CENTRE/WING

LOCK HIM IN! – Brayden Wiliame is the only lock in the difficult centre/wing position. Given he has the starting position and how good he looked in the pre-season trials I think he is a lock for all SuperCoaches. 

SHORTLISTED – Just when I was putting together this article I found out the shocking news about Jack Bird’s suspected ACL injury.

What a horrible run of luck and injury Bird has had since he arrived at the Broncos.

The injury actually has significant SuperCoach repercussions. Most likely Isaako comes into the fullback spot and that may mean Kotoni Staggs loses the goal-kicking.

It may also affect the forward rotation if the Broncos decide to bring Ethan Bullemor into the side.

Anyway I digress, Staggs and obviously Bird are both scratches for me given that news.

So the others I have shortlisted include Waqa Blake, Joey Leilua, Joey Manu, Braidon Burns, Tyrone Peachey, David Fusitu’a, Zac Lomax and David Nofoaluma.

I’m leaning towards Leilua, Manu, Fusitu’a and possibly a flyer on Nofo if I can find the cash.

CHEAPIES – Tyrell Fuimaono is the only active cheapie I can find other than Brayden Wiliame. I’m warming to the Dragons interchange forward who has had good pre-season form, but there’s a heap of pressure behind him from Dragons depth forwards who missed the side due to form or injury.

In terms of non-active cheapies, I like Fanetesi Niu and Cody Ramsey to get a run at some stage for their teams, so they are likely to sit on my bench. Ramsey is perfect for Round 1 with Saints playing the last game, making him the perfect NPR if my vice-captain tears it up.

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FULLBACK

LOCK HIM IN! – Ryan Papenhuyzen – Likely to be one of the highest percentage owned in SuperCoach this year despite a plethora of fullback talent. Lock him in! 

SHORTLISTED – The other position of fullback to partner Little Papi for me will go to either Val Holmes, Kalyn Ponga, James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic or RTS.

I’m leaning towards RTS because in watching the trials I think his involvement in creative aspects of the Warriors game will increase with the team’s new game model.

Ponga seems a safe bet also at his price, but something I can’t put my finger on is putting me off the Knights a bit this year.

Ponga is probably immune to any Knights form slump anyway. Teddy and Turbo might be just too expensive for me to get, although both of them are top shelf options.

CHEAPIES – Forget about fullback cheapies – go with two guns!

Good luck for week 1 SuperCoaches.

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