Captain’s Challenge: Round 17 skipper options

We run the rule over the best NRL SuperCoach captaincy options to select in Round 17.

Captain's Challenge

After a few weeks of 10th placed Tim Williams writing this article, you are unfortunately stuck with the guy coming 6,700th giving you captain’s insights this round.

Fortunately, there are some great options this week and a clear candidate even blind Freddy couldn’t get wrong.

A quick tip for head-to-head players, it’s always worth keeping your captain choice hidden from your opponent until the last possible moment – this becomes more important as you get into finals and teams start to look more alike.

Let’s see who tickles our fancy for round 17.

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Safety first

Nathan Cleary (HFB)

The number one halfback in SuperCoach plays the worst defensive side in the competition this week.

The analysis should stop there, but just in case you needed a few stats…

Cleary has a 3RA of 93 and 5RA of 101.

The Broncos are giving up an average of 72 points to right halves this year, more than any other side.

Cleary is in great form, playing both sides of the field on a dry Suncorp track and I won’t be surprised to see him cross the line for an easy try.

He will be the most popular captain and it will take some big kahunas not to vice-captain or captain him.

Cameron Smith (HOK)

Smith returned from injury for a mediocre SuperCoach score of 49.

Smith scored 76 points the last time they played Souths in Round 4 and raised the bat with a century when they played in 2019.

The gameplay last week meant Smith didn’t really need to do much in the middle, with Melbourne attacking Manly’s edges.

This week should be a tougher matchup against Souths, with Smith doing more masterminding through South’s middle.

Despite South’s recent form and the Storm’s outs, I still think Storm have the ability to put some points on.

Payne Haas (FRF)

Haas has had a two-week rest and comes into a Broncos side well short in the middle.

He will have to play big minutes and scored 112 points the last time they met in 2019.

The only issue is how much time he spends standing under the goal posts and how the interim coach will use him.

He isn’t going to let you down with a 76PPG average this year.

NEXT BEST: Matterson, Koroisau (if he plays)

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Risk it for the biscuit

James Tedesco (FLB)

Teddy bounced back to form last week in great style and it is no coincidence it happened as the Roosters start to get a few troops back.

With the band nearly completely back together at the Roosters, the only thing holding Teddy back is a tough matchup in Canberra for a top 4 spot.

I can see both teams being up for this game and putting in some heavy work defensively.

However, it wasn’t so long ago that the Raiders were giving up huge points to fullbacks, especially down their right-hand edge.

Canberra are giving up an average of 68 points to fullbacks this year, which is ranked as the 4th worsst fullback defence in the competition.

The last time they met in round 10, Teddy scored 77 points and in 2019 he scored 118 and 82 points.

So despite their tough matchups over the last two years, Teddy has still managed to score well.

David Nofoaluma (CTW)

Nof comes up against a Manly side who look like they have given up defensively.

I expect there to be a lot of points in this match with both sides playing attacking footy.

Nof should line up against what I consider currently one of the worst defenders in the league, Jorge Taufua.

Taufua is being consistently found out recently and often left dead in the water infield.

In 2019, Nof put 79 points on a much tougher Manly side.

I’m expecting to see Benji come out with a point to prove, throwing a cut out to Nof as Taufua predictably shoots in.

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Kalyn Ponga (FLB)

How quickly things have changed since Green’s injury and its effect on Ponga’s SuperCoach scores.

I know it has only been one week, but Mason Lino was playing flat and looking to take the line on himself rather than creating space for Ponga.

I don’t remember Ponga getting the ball with any space and I don’t believe Lino or Pearce’s natural gameplay helps change this.

They are playing at home this week and it is expected to be a wet game.

Despite all this I am still encouraged by an enticing matchup against the Sharks, who have given up the 5th greatest points to fullbacks this year.

In the last five rounds the Sharks have also given up an average of 63 points per player down their right edge – which is Ponga’s natural attacking side.

NEXT BEST: DCE, Lomax

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Consensus

You would be mad not to have the VC on Cleary at the very least.

Whether you straight captain him depends on your potential AE’s.

I always prefer a straight captain in a juicy matchup like this, but I seem to have a few more AE issues than most.

If Cleary doesn’t miraculously put out a big score or you are looking at a POD, I don’t think Teddy or Nof will let you down and could both go 100+.

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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