Despite an improved recent showing from the Titans, I expect the Raiders to show too much class in this clash. If they’re genuine contenders in 2020 this is a game they know they’ll have to get up for and win well.
Even if their attack isn’t clicking to its full potential, their defence should get them home. John Bateman’s return has changed the entire dynamic and level of belief in this side.
Bateman has returned from injury as if he hasn’t missed a
match. He’s playing the full 80 and Ricky Stuart is likely to avoid resting him
in games, even blowouts, to get his match fitness up to scratch come finals
As mentioned last week, there’s risk in Papalii in that he
can get early spells in games the Raiders are well up in. That occurred against
the Broncos where he played just 46 minutes. The Titans should put up a better
fight than their Queensland counterparts, so hopefully there will be no need
for the early shower again. He’s comfortably the best front-row option in the
Jai Arrow’s absence means Fotuaika shifts to lock which can
only be good for his minutes. He’ll get through stacks of work and could easily
exceed his value. There aren’t too many guns in this contest, so fitting in the
above three at hefty prices shouldn’t be difficult.
Kelly isn’t a gun as such, and at $12,550 he’s certainly
affordable, but he’s in exceptional form and he’s the go-to man in attack for
the Titans at the moment. He’s a fairly clear pick of the centres for mine.
STARS TO AVOID
Joe Tapine and Elliott Whitehead
Tapine is an easy avoid as his minutes have been shot ever
since Bateman returned. Whitehead flourished with more attacking ball off Jack
Wighton in Bateman’s absence, but since he returned the Raiders have sent
plenty of attack to the right edge of George Williams. Whitehead doesn’t have
the run/tackle stats to warrant buying at that price at the moment.
Brimson has fired since returning from injury and has been a
key factor in the side’s reinvigorated attack of late. The Titans will no doubt
give him plenty of good ball in attacking territory and he can sniff out points
from any situation.
George Williams and John Bateman
I backed these two as the combination to target last week and it paid off big time. I’ll be doing the exact same again by locking in both men who are on a tear on the right edge.
With so many injured stars out of action this is an intriguing NRL and Draftstars contest, and also a hard one to assess. From a Draftstars perspective, it gives ample opportunity to pick a unique squad which is always fun to play. Despite the injuries, I’m backing the Roosters to edge the Tigers who are extremely fragile in defence.
A form slump, I say slump by Teddy’s freakish standards, has
led to some poor scores and a price tag of just $14,590. It’s as cheap as he’ll
probably ever be again, bargain!
I never advise picking wingers against the Roosters, but
they’re fielding a severely depleted team so hopefully Nofa can continue his
try-scoring run. Even if not, his base stats are elite so he’s a safe pick. The
high price for a winger isn’t an issue due to the lack of guns in the contest.
STARS TO AVOID
Friend is the highest priced hooker in the contest, but his
form has regressed this season significantly. Having half your forward pack out
doesn’t help, but his decision making and running game has been below par.
Jacob Liddle returned last week and has more attacking upside, so I’m happy to
save $2.5k there.
I’ve spruiked the livewire back-rower for a few weeks now without too much reward. The positive is that he’s still very cheap at under $9k. He’s playing 80 minutes and has serious attacking potential, so he’s a lock in for me.
James Tedesco and Sitili Tupouniua
I expect the Roosters to play far tighter with their attack with key link man Luke Keary out of action. This will see far more short plays to the likes of Butcher and Tupouniua. When they do, Teddy will be flying off their hip for the offload.
The returns of Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake make this
a really interesting contest. Manly are now in with a real shot. I’m backing
the Rabbitohs in a tight one, but an upset wouldn’t shock at all. I’ll favour
Rabbitohs attacking players and a few Sea Eagles work horse forwards.
Jurbo has lifted in the absence of his front-rowers recently. Yes they’re back, but I expect him to maintain similar enough output as the big men return to full fitness. He’s significantly upped his running game which is integral to his scoring, while he’s more of a focal point of the side’s attack with brother Tom out.
The only 80 minute hooker in the contest, a must-have selection even if his lethal running game has been down in 2020.
STARS TO AVOID
Reports suggest AFB will play this week. He is normally one of my first front-rowers picked, but he’s returning fairly early from injury as Manly desperately seek wins to stay in the top eight race. Minutes may be limited, while his output surely will be, so I’ll avoid till I get a better look at his fitness.
If South Sydney are serious about threatening come finals
time it’ll be off the back of Cook and Walker. The left edge is showing
promise, with Dane Gagai hitting his best form in years with the shift.
Cody Walker and Alex Johnston
Johnston is in a hot run of form and it can continue against
Manly. Their backline is depleted due to injuries so there may be a lack of
defensive cohesion out wide. Hopefully Cody does the trademark deep dig into
the line then long floater to AJ to finish off in the corner.