Draftstars preview: Saturday NRL fixtures

Check out our Draftstars preview of the three Saturday clashes, with the key players to target and avoid.

DraftStars preview

Draftstars is back for Round 9 of the NRL season and with it comes the chance to back your fantasy knowledge to win some cash.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, you can enter competitions for each game for as little as 50c and win major jackpots.

Let’s take a look into today’s fixtures.


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This game is going to be exceptional viewing if the Sharks can maintain their form. There’s strike power across the park, so it should make for an enthralling contest.

Penrith have hardly put a foot wrong in 2020, so there’s no reason not to give them the edge. Matt Moylan is a loss for the Sharks, in particular the outside backs who have thrived with him roaming across the park. Josh Dugan won’t offer much ball-playing, so I’ll narrowly favour Penrith attackers.


Nathan Cleary

It’s Cleary v Johnson in the halves. It’s a tough decision that may make-or-break your contest. Cleary is in stunning form and has done so against strong opposition. SJ is also firing, but has done so against lesser opposition. It’s Cleary for me…

Api Koroisau

In another head-to-head contest, it’s Koroisau v Blayke Brailey. Brailey is really finding his confidence at NRL level and has arguably had his two best games in the top grade in the past fortnight. Brailey’s scores have been bolstered by two tries in the past two weeks. However, Koroisau is in career best form as an 80-minute man at Penrith and has a scintillating running game through the ruck which secured victory for Penrith last week. I’ll be paying the extra $3k for the Penrith rake.


James Fisher-Harris and Andrew Fifita

JFH is a Draftstars gun when given minutes, but his game time is fluctuating too much to warrant recruiting at almost $15k. However, he may get the time, so I don’t begrudge anyone going there. Fifita had his best game of the year last week, but it was against the Titans so don’t get too excited. At $13,500 I won’t be touching him. Woods and Tamou are fine alternatives for far cheaper.


Josh Dugan

Dugan returns to the jumper that he held for most of his career. He should have a stack of carries and figure prominently in attacking raids. While I can’t see him setting up too many tries, he’ll be a force with a bit of space out the back with SJ feeding him quality ball. Having played centre all year I think he’s undervalued at $8,910 for this contest.


Nathan Cleary and Viliame Kikau

There’s fairly few cracks in both these defensive lines, so finding strong combinations is tough. I’ll stick with the tried and tested, with Cleary isolating his opposing half for a steaming Kikau to crash over. SJ is solid in defence, but a brick wall would struggle to stop Big Billy one-on-one.

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Brisbane’s Draftstars contests are extremely tough at the moment due to their volatile performances against weak opposition. This clash with Canterbury won’t be much easier. I’d say that in theory the Broncos have to bounce back, but there’s nothing valid to back up that call. The beauty of difficult match ups to call is that many teams will have vastly different players, so get it right and you’re a big chance of getting in the cash. Watch late mail closely as absolutely anything could change in that Brisbane side.


Payne Haas

I’d be tempted to leave Haas out at a ridiculous $21,090 price tag. If it were against most other opposition I would do so. However, there are so few guns in this contest it’s not hard to fit a squad in, so you can justify buying Haas and maintaining a quality balance. Hopefully Anthony Seibold plays him 70+ minutes, and with his job on the line you’d have to think he will.

Raymond Faitala-Mariner

RFM has locked in an 80-minute role, which is all but assured with Adam Elliott’s long-term injury. He’s getting through plenty of work and showed last week his ability to jag attacking stats with a try of his own.


Luke Thompson

Yes the English international is an exciting prospect, but don’t get carried away just yet. He spent time in quarantine in Melbourne after arriving from England where he was locked inside. He’s had minimal time with his new club, and he’ll have to adjust to completely new rules and a far quicker ruck. Match fitness will be a huge issue, so look to add him to future teams as his fitness improves.

Issac Luke

Luke isn’t a star, but he is comfortably the highest priced hooker. He’s playing 60 minutes, Jeremy Marshall-King is playing 80, I’ll be going the latter at a discounted rate.


Tesi Niu

Niu is just 18-years-old so he’ll develop significantly with each game he plays. He’s shown good signs in recent weeks and should certainly play 80-minutes with Tom Dearden named as the bench utility. At just $8,000 he can hopefully find some attacking numbers in this clash.


Tevita Pangai Jnr and Tesi Niu

TPJ move from an edge to the middle where he can hopefully provide the go-forward Brisbane so dearly need. If Niu isn’t off his hip all game waiting for that offload than Seibold needs a few words. I can see TPJ finding a flying Niu who runs away to score… hopefully.

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This will be a cracker. Canberra are building an impressive record against Melbourne who are coming off a draining golden point win over the Roosters. It’ll be a freezing night in Canberra and with two astute defensive outfits it may be a relatively low-scoring affair, although the Green Wall isn’t exactly bulletproof at the moment. I’ll have a fairly even split of both sides. There’s uncertainty around a few areas of Canberra’s side so watch late mail carefully.


Josh Papalii

Big Papa is my first picked in this clash due to Canberra’s plethora of injuries to their middle men. Soliola and Guler are both out long-term, so I struggle to see Papa not lifting his game time to 60+ minutes. He also has a habit of crushing Melbourne in recent years.

George Williams

There’s not much separating the like of Williams, Wighton and Hughes in the halves for this clash. However Williams obliterated the Storm in Melbourne upon the comp’s resumption. It was a stunning performance so I’m hoping he can do even something slightly reminiscent of that at home.

Brandon Smith

Smith is a little terrier and is made for Draftstars scoring with huge attacking upside. He’s currently named on the bench, so this pick is obviously based on the assumption he starts at hooker with Smith in the halves. Forget about it should he start off the bench. At $13,100 he’s a tremendous addition to sides.


Cameron Smith

This is purely based on the expectation he shifts into the halves. He made just 22 tackles last week in the halves which must surely be a career low? If he does play hooker as named I’ll be picking him.


Nick Cotric

I’ve always liked Cotric as a Draftstars player due to their huge rewarding of tackle breaks. It may be a low scoring affair in Canberra, but if Cotric can cross for a try alongside his usual tackle busting numbers he should score well at just under $9k.


George Williams and Hudson Young

Young is available at a reasonable price and is playing 80 minutes on the right edge outside Williams. Williams is a very direct ball runner which bring his second-rower into play. I’m hoping for a repeat of their last match up, and hopefully the Englishman puts it on a platter for Young.


StatPoints value
Field goal5
Tackle break3
Linebreak assist2
Tackle 1
Run metre gained0.1
Kick metre gained0.05
Missed tackle0.05

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