Captain’s Challenge: Round 16 skipper options

We run the rule over the best NRL SuperCoach captaincy options to select in Round 16.

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As we head towards the business end of the season the vice-captain loophole is becoming more and more viable.

The tactic has been aided by a stack of injuries, along with a greater tendency this season to nuff out players from an earlier stage of the year with no bye-planning required.

If you are lucky enough to field a strong 17 heading into head-to-head finals next week but can walk the tight rope of getting a free shot at the VC loophole than it’s a major bonus.

Fortunately the more popular captaincy options in Round 16 play relatively late in the round, so if you need a win to secure a top eight or top four berth than you can flip it over if you find yourself needing to make up ground in your clash.

Let’s take a peak at Round 16.

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SAFETY FIRST

JAMES TEDESCO

I’m finding it very hard to look past Teddy this week despite his 5RA of 61PPG. The Roosters have welcomed back a few stars in recent weeks and they’re ready to hit their straps.

As evidenced by their historic back-to-back titles, Trent Robinson is the master at managing his side’s ability to avoid burn out to allow them to peak when it matters. Despite injuries still hurting the club, that time is coming…

Brisbane concede the 4th most points to fullbacks, although they did keep Turbo and Ponga to under 80. That was earlier in the season when they had a bit more ticker though.

They are soft through the guts and abysmal on the edge, Teddy could go very large as he looks to break a nine game streak without a try, yes you read that right.

If this period has hindered your recent memory, Teddy has four tons this year including a 199 and 178.

NATHAN CLEARY

Cleary is averaging 97PPG over his past six games and he could easily eclipse that against the Tigers who conceded 38 points to the depleted Roosters at Leichhardt Oval last week.

Prior to this it was 28 against the Bulldogs, 44 against the Knights and 26 against the Warriors.

Cleary is averaging a mental 85PPG this season. The Tigers concede the 6th most points to halfbacks.

The team flourishing around him has helped send his confidence levels to a career high. With the amount of touches he gets per set in attacking territory it’s near impossible for him not to jag big stats.

It’s a tough task picking between him and Teddy this week.

RYAN MATTERSON

Disregarding his 8 point concussion game, Matto averages 84PPG this season.

He notched 115 points last week and it was in relatively effortless fashion in terms of attacking stats.

He had a very classy try-assist and a linebreak, but it came with 65 base points which was his second highest of the season.

With that base, and a clear ceiling that’s not to be shrugged at, he must loom as a captaincy option each week.

He may not have the 180 ceiling of the above mentioned guys, but if you fancy yourself in a head-to-head final than why not lock in what should be a minimum 60-80 points with the potential for 130?

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RISK IT FOR THE BISCUIT

CAMERON MUNSTER and CAMERON SMITH

If you find yourself in strife after a few games and needing a miracle as you see your top eight hopes slipping away, than look no further than Munster.

The risk obviously lies in the fact he’s returning from injury. Cam Smith is only in the risk category as he’s returning from injury, but reports suggest he’s well rested and ready to go.

The Storm are sitting comfortably in the top four and Craig Bellamy wouldn’t risk his 2020 hopes if either of these men were underdone.

In his nine games since the comp resumed from break, Munster has just one score under 50, a 48 against the Knights in Round 5.

As brave as Manly are, particularly against bitter rivals Melbourne, they’re just depleted and clinging on for life this season.

A dry track on the Sunshine Coast will be brilliant for the Storm who welcome back their 6,7 and 9 to complete their full strength spine.

The Sea Eagles conceded 56 to South Sydney last week in a night game and I consider Melbourne a significantly better side.

KALYN PONGA

Ponga drops from safety first to risk it this week due to the expectation he loses the goal-kicking duties to Mason Lino.

Certainly it’s a deterrent, but don’t let it take you completely off Ponga who will be a serious POD skipper or at very least VC option this week.

As the SC Spy pointed out on the podcast this week, Ponga still averages 72PPG this season discounting his conversions.

While being utilised a little oddly by the Knights, he’s looking in exceptional touch and another 100+ score is very close.

He already has scores of 172 and 159 this season, and he put 81 on the Warriors in Round 1.

The Warriors concede the 7th most points to fullbacks which isn’t too bad, but they do concede the most points of any team to CTWs.

Ponga will relish the opportunity to target the flimsy edge defence with his remarkable ability to oust a defender one-on-one.

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CONSENSUS

I’m leaning towards Tedesco as skipper which means I have to go relatively early for a VC which would be Matterson.

I’d love to have the opportunity to VC Teddy and skipper Cleary with a relatively free go at the loophole, but I’ve got enough active players on my bench that it’s not worth it.

While I don’t rate the Tigers, at least they’re clinging onto top eight hopes. Brisbane are counting down the days to Mad Monday, and Teddy’s got a try-scoring drought to end.

SUPERCOACH TERMINOLOGY KEY

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

3RA = Three round average

5RA = Five round average

BREAKEVEN (B/E) = The score a player must record to earn a price rise.

*Please note all our stats are taken from the geniuses at nrlsupercoachstats.com

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