Squad Breakdown: Round 1 team insights

The squads have dropped for Round 1, we've broken them down to find the best buys and avoids to start the 2020 season.

Expert Analysis Squad Breakdown


Thursday, 8.05pm, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney


1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 

Bench: 14. Brad Takairangi 15. Marata Niukore 16. Kane Evans 17. Peni Terepo 

Reserves: 18. Will Smith 19. Ray Stone 20. Oregon Kaufusi 21. George Jennings

Analysis: With a friendly opening five rounds, the Eels are a team to target.

The likes of Ferguson and Sivo are strong POD options to start the year, but you’re paying premium price for players in the notoriously risky CTW position, so the cash may be better spent elsewhere.

Moses looks an exceptional option to start the year, but again, you’re forking the cash out for a player relying on attacking stats.

He finally shed his rollercoaster tag to produce a season average of 62PPG in 2019. He knocked out three triple figure scores, and notched just three scores under 30 for the year. 

The four forward bench is an issue for the minutes of Matterson and Lane. While they should play the full 80, it’s a concern when paying premium price.

With so many mid-range options at 2RF/FRF, maybe it’s worth waiting on Matterson as an upgrade later on.

The bench named by Arthur rules out Nathan Brown as an option, while there’s far better options at fullback than Gutherson.


1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Will Hopoate 5. Christian Crichton 6. Brandon Wakeham 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Joe Stimson 13. Adam Elliott 

Bench: 14. Dean Britt 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Kerrod Holland 

Reserves: 19. Ofahiki Ogden 20. Jake Averillo 21. Sione Katoa 22. Jack Cogger

Analysis: Harawira-Naera and Okunbor have both been stood down but shouldn’t miss too many weeks.

As a result, Stimson is a trap for anyone considered him as CHN will take his spot on return.

Wakeham looks a serious cheapie option having won a halves role. In three games last season, Wakeham averaged 43PPG in 71MPG. There’s not a heap else doing at Belmore, with Hopoate more of an option down the track.

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

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Friday, 6pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Corey Horsburgh 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 

Bench: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Michael Oldfield 

Reserves: 18. Jack Murchie 19. Sam Williams 20. Semi Valemi 21. Tom Starling

Analysis: Don’t be surprised to see Horsburgh and Tapine switch between the edge and middle before kick-off on game day.

Both men look serious options having averaged 33 and 44MPG respectively last season.

Horsburgh scored at the ridiculous rate of 1.21PPM and should play 50+ minutes at the very least.

Even with Bateman’s return he should maintain strong game time. Tapine will play 65-80 minutes pending fitness levels.

He’s a gun of the past having averaged 63PPG in 2017 and can return to similar numbers if his body holds up.

Bailey Simonsson and Nick Cotric are both serious POD options at very affordable prices., while there’s far superior fullback options than Nicoll-Klokstad.

Papalii is absolutely elite and should be considered as a partner to Payne Haas in the front-row.

He has averaged between 63-66PPG in the past four seasons. An established role in the middle saw Papalii’s minutes drop to 53MPG in 2019, but his points per minute increased to a stunning 1.22PPM. He’ll play more minutes early this season.

Williams is far from the lock we hoped having had an interrupted pre-season with a groin niggle, that being said, he’s very affordable and has big upside with a SuperCoach friendly game if he can convert his UK form to the NRL.

1. Phillip Sami 2. Anthony Don 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dale Copley 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Sam Lisone 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Arrow 

Bench: 14. Nathan Peats 15. Jai Whitbread 16. Brian Kelly 17. Jaimin Jolliffe 

Reserves: 18. Sam Stone 19. Jonus Pearson 20. Moeaki Fotuaika 21. Alexander Brimson

Analysis: Arrow averaged 62PPG in 57MPG in 2019, and 64PPG in 55MPG in 2018. When fit, there’s no doubting he’s an elite SuperCoach player.

The fact he was sent to the Perth Nines suggests he’s healthy heading into the new season. He looks set for an increased role and looks a superb buy at a discounted rate.

Watkins has decent job security as a cheapie, but how much does he have to offer?

Peachey is a surprise starting selection and at $366k looms as a serious mid-range option at CTW.

There’s issues over his job security, but he’s obviously been given the backing of new coach Justin Holbrook, so he looks a decent left-field POD.

Taylor is an extremely viable alternative to Williams/Luai/Wakeham at a similar price, he’s set to kick goals for the Titans.

Bryce Cartwright averaged 41PPG in 56MPG last season. In eight 80-minute games, he averaged 59PPG. If he plays the full 80 he is a serious option, but we won’t know until Round 1.

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Friday, 8.05pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 

Bench: 14. Reece Robson 15. Mitchell Dunn 16. Shane Wright 17. Francis Molo 

Reserves: 18. Corey Jensen 19. Connelly Lemuelu 20. Tom Opacic 21. Jake Clifford

Analysis: Holmes is a flyer at fullback with goal-kicking locked in, but surely there’s superior and safer options to begin the year?

Without goal-kicking duties, in a new-look backline, it’s probably worth waiting for a potential price drop on Marsters before jumping on.

Drinkwater is an option, but he hardly lit up SuperCoach last season with just a 39PPG average. There looks to be better options at a discounted rate.

We know Taumalolo will deliver the goods, but you are paying absolute premium price for him.

There’s a serious case for starting one of the many mid-range forwards ahead of him, then upgrading once peaked. Hess averaged just 38PPG in 61MPG in 2019, but regains a starting role in 2020.

The two seasons prior he averaged 58PPG as an 80-minute player, if he could emulate this it’d equate to a price rise of around $200k. 

1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Darius Boyd 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Pat Carrigan 

Bench: 14. TBA 15. Andrew McCullough 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Jamil Hopoate 

Reserves: 18. Xavier Coates 19. Herbie Farnworth 20. Tom Dearden 21. Ethan Bullemor

Analysis: Don’t worry about having too many Broncos in your team, they’ve had roster changes and injuries and are loaded with SuperCoach potential.

With a hooker and utility back on the bench, the entire pack are ripe for the picking.

Flegler and Carrigan will both make money and deliver solid points in the process for 17s, even when Ofahengaue returns.

Fifita is undervalued and is close to a must-have. The bench set up suggests Haas will play enormous minutes and is close to a lock in captain in Round 1.

Turpin isn’t an option with McCullough named on the bench. Bird and Staggs (goal-kicking) look to be exceptional PODs. They’ll bust tackles, offload and get through plenty of work.

UPDATE: Jack Bird has hurt his knee at training, with the degree of injury not yet confirmed. He won’t face the Cowboys with Jamayne Isaako to play fullback. This puts a serious dent in the buy hopes of Kotoni Staggs who is now unlikely to kick goals.

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Saturday, 3pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Herman Ese’ese 

Bench: 14. Connor Watson 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Tim Glasby 17. Aidan Guerra 

Reserves: 18. Pasami Saulo 19. Starford To’a 20. Mason Lino 21. Brodie Jones

Analysis: At awkward prices and with poor job security, Shibasaki and Tuala look like dangerous options due to their awkward starting prices.

Mann won his job primarily on form, not injury (Crossland to be eased back), so he’s probably the safest cheapie option here, although not without obvious risk.

Ponga will kick goals in 2020 with no Lino in the side. Lino had 33 conversions last season at 84%, so if we add 30 of these conversions onto Ponga’s overall score – based on his 80% success rate – he would have upped his average to 74PPG.

Klemmer is at peak price and although he’ll do a solid job, there’s no real value upside to him to begin the year.

Ese’ese is worth a look having jumped Glasby for a starting role, but it’s recommended to watch his minutes before jumping on.

1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. David Fusitu’a 4. Peta Hiku 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Blake Green 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Wayde Egan 10. Lachlan Burr 11. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Isaiah Papali’i 

Bench: 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 16. Eliesa Katoa 17. Karl Lawton 

Reserves: 18. King Vuniyayawa 20. Hayze Perham 21. Leivaha Pulu 22. Taane Milne

Analysis: 2019 runner-up and Warriors fan Walson Carlos is big on the ability of cheapies Taunoa-Brown and Katoa. There’s serious job security issues, but they should see good minutes having been named on the bench that boasts a hooker and utility. While elite, there’s better options at fullback than RTS who has just four centuries in the past four seasons.

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Saturday, 5.30pm, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Cameron Murray 13. Liam Knight 

Bench: 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Ethan Lowe 16. Hame Sele 17. Alex Johnston 

Reserves: 18. George Williams 19. Bayley Sironen 20. Troy Dargan 21. Keaon Koloamatangi

Analysis: Latrell is an enormous risk that could deliver enormous reward, but surely he’s due for a significant price drop in a new position, new club and with no goal-kicking duties.

Injury risk aside, Burns looks a super POD at centre, while you could make a case for Roberts at an affordable price to start the year.

Walker is an enormous POD as usual, having started last year on an absolute tear averaging 80PPG over the first 10 weeks.

The issue for all these men is South Sydney’s tough start to the year. Cook is the best hooker in the game and may well be a POD with cheapie/mid-range hookers emerging.

Murray will increase on his 59MPG last season and may well even play the entire 80.

Knight and Su’A are set to make some cash and could deliver decent scoring, but how will Bennett inject Lowe into the game?

The suggestion is that Murray moves to lock, Knight to the bench, and Lowe to an edge. This may mean 80-minutes for Su’A, but it’s all just speculation until we see it unfold.

1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Morris 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 

Bench: 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Toby Rudolf 17. Scott Sorensen 

Reserves: 18. Billy Magoulias 19. Braydon Trindall 20. Royce Hunt 21. Jackson Ferris

Analysis: Kennedy is a trap with Xerri and Dugan due back any week, while Morris will depart to the Roosters after Round 2.

Johnson is an extremely viable option in the halves, with his dual position availability a massive boost over halves rivals Moses and Cleary.

Ramien was on a tear in the All Stars game and is a decent POD on return to the Shire.

Williams and Hamlin-Uele will both play increased minutes and should make decent coin.

With Tracey named on the bench, Brailey likely won’t play 80-minutes and therefore shouldn’t be selected in 17s.

This selection bodes well for debutant Rudolf who may earn reasonable minutes. Let’s see how fit Fifita is and what minutes he’s given before joining that ride.

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Saturday, 7.35pm, Panthers Stadium, Penrith

1. Caleb Aekins 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Zane Tetevano 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 

Bench: 14. Stephen Crichton 15. James Fisher-Harris 16. Moses Leota 17. Jack Hetherington 

Reserves: 18. Billy Burns 19. Matt Burton 20. Jed Cartwright 21. Kaide Ellis

Analysis: Mansour and To’o both have serious POD credentials, although you’re paying a premium price for the latter man so it’s a huge risk.

With Fisher-Harris eased back, Tetevano and Yeo are both traps, although they’re hardly appealing anyway.

With no bench hooker named, Koroisau should play 80-minutes and is a great buy. Luai looks a decent cheapie option but don’t lock him into your 17 with any confidence.

Cleary gets his chance to run the show without Maloney, the only concern is Penrith’s savage opening to the year.

1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Angus Crichton 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Sitili Tupouniua 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 

Bench: 14. Sam Verrills 15. Isaac Liu 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 

Reserves: 18. Matt Ikuvalu 19. Poasa Faamausili 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Asu Kepaoa

Analysis: Tupouniua is a trap with Cordner to come back and Crichton to shift from centre with Josh Morris joining the club in coming weeks.

Tedesco is the best player in SuperCoach, but at the price it’s probably worth waiting for a price drop before upgrading a Papenhuyzen or Ponga.

Keary is a decent POD now that he’ll run the show in the post-Cronk era. Taukeiaho can evolve into an elite FRF option if his body holds up, with the potential to also win the goal-kicking duties which would make him a must-have.

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Sunday, 4.05pm, Lottoland, Manly

Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 

Bench: 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Sean Keppie 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Haumole Olakau’atu 

Reserves: 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Brendan Elliot 20. Tevita Funa 21. Zac Saddler

Analysis: Tom Trbojevic is obviously an exceptional option to start the season. Jake Trbojevic and AFB are surprise inclusions for Round 1.

There’s no doubting their SuperCoach ability, but their minutes and workload are a concern on return from injury.

Cherry-Evans needs goal-kicking duties to match the elite tier of halfbacks.

Taupau is a decent option, but with three props named on the bench, and Jurbo/AFB capable of big minutes once fit, how much game time does he get? Keppie and Olakau’ata are both solid cheapie options.

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 

Bench: 14. Harry Grant 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui 16. Max King 17. Tom Eisenhuth 

Reserves: 18. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 19. Brenko Lee 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Darryn Schonig

Analysis: Papenhuyzen averaged just 38MPG in 2019. In his six 80-minute games at fullback, he averaged a ridiculous 95PPG, scoring at the hardly believable rate of 1.38PPM. He’s a must-have.

Munster is an elite 5/8 option and will be a strong pick to start the year as usual. The line-up is fairly settled, so there’s not too much interest elsewhere.

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Sunday, 6.15pm, WIN Stadium, Wollongong


1. Zac Lomax 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Issac Luke 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Blake Lawrie 

Bench: 14. Trent Merrin 15. Tyrell Fuimaono 16. Billy Brittain 17. Jacob Host 

Reserves: 18. Jackson Ford 19. Adam Clune 20. Euan Aitken 21. Josh Kerr

Analysis: Lomax may not be the star mid-ranger we hoped for, but after averaging just 55MPG last season as a winger and now taking on the goal-kicking full-time he looks a fairly safe bet.

Wiliame has beaten out Aitken to a centre role, and although job security is a huge issue, you have to take the punt at $201k.

There’s not a lot doing elsewhere, with a stack of forward depth the minute rotation of the pack is largely unknown and therefore not worth the risk until we’ve seen it play out.

1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Robert Jennings 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Billy Walters 10. Alex Twal 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Elijah Taylor 

Bench: 14. Thomas Mikaele 15. Josh Reynolds 16. Zane Musgrove 17. Chris Lawrence 

Reserves: 18. Michael Chee-Kam 19. Oliver Clark 20. Matt Eisenhuth 21. Paul Momirovski

Analysis: Doueihi looks a trap, despite being at a tempting price with goal-kicking duties next to his name.

He couldn’t fire in SuperCoach as a fullback at the relentless Rabbitohs, so why should he as a centre at a team who has struggled to score points in recent years?

Furthermore, the right edge of the Leilua brothers and Nofoaluma will see the majority of good ball.

Looking set for a 65+ minute role, Luciano Leilua looks an exceptional buy having averaged 47PPG in 41MPG at an output of 1.13PPM last season at the Dragons.

Joey Leilua, however, hasn’t averaged over 51PPG in the past five years, outside of his monster 72PPG in 2016.

The POD temptation is there, but like Doueihi, he’s left an attacking side for one that struggles to cross the line, so how much improvement is really there?

Musgrove is highly regarded at the club and looks to be a very decent cash cow with strong job security.

The dual position HOK/HFB of Walters is huge, but there’s a concern with Reynolds likely to play a minimum of 30 minutes off the bench and the looming Grant-Momirovski player swap.


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 “Squad Breakdown: Round 1 team insights”

  1. mgibson6284

    Love the write up. Keep them coming. Such a huge help! Although I think if there is any hint of truth to the rumours of what the Bulldogs boys did then they will be out for a long time and Stimson might not actually be a trap.

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