Captain’s Challenge: Round 18 skipper options

We run the rule over the best NRL SuperCoach captaincy options to select in Round 18.

Captain's Challenge

As we head deeper into the season with finals ramping up, the vice-captain loophole is becoming more and more viable.

The tactic has been aided by a stack of injuries, a few rests, 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 at the moment and can walk the tight rope of getting a free shot at the VC loophole than it’s a major bonus.

We saw last week the reward in going against the grain of popular skippers, with Nathan Cleary underwhelming while James Tedesco and Kalyn Ponga went ballistic.

Let’s take a peak at Round 18.

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SAFETY FIRST

JAMES TEDESCO

Teddy is very likely to be the most popular captain this week for good reason.

He’s scored a ridiculous 308 points in his past two games.

While I like him as a pick, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as people are making out.

I acknowledge the Knights form of late hasn’t been crash hot, but I do think they’ve developed far more defensive resilience this season under Adam O’Brien.

They boast the sixth best defensive record in the competition with 278 against, and it’s not far off those above them (aside from Melbourne’s 204 points conceded.)

The odds would suggest it’ll be a one-sided affair, but Kalyn Ponga’s absence will contribute to the odds significantly.

While that will cruel the Knights’ attack, it shouldn’t impact defence too significantly.

Get this, the Knights actually concede the least SuperCoach points to fullbacks in the NRL!

PAYNE HAAS

I really like Haas as a play this week, particularly for those who are ahead comfortably in their head-to-head finals.

He played the full 80 minutes last week for 89 points, including a mind blowing 85 in base… seriously.

Obviously be aware of late changes, but the Brisbane bench boasts a hooker and winger, so I can’t really see Haas not getting a very minimum of 70 minutes, I’m expecting him to play 80.

He comes up against the fragile Titans defensive unit, so he’s every chance to jag some extra attacking stats this week and a 100+ score is a huge chance.

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CAMERON SMITH

Melbourne are ramping up for finals and they face a Cowboys side boasting the second worst defensive record in the competition.

While their SuperCoach defensive record is horrid, they actually defend okay against hookers with the 9th most points conceded.

The Cows are very patchy on the edges, so the concern is that he just dishes very early ball to his halves who do the damage out wide.

I’ve seen this happen plenty of times before where Smith doesn’t need to turn provider around the ruck.

However, it’d take a brave person to not think he can’t get a try-assist or two of his own, along with a stack of conversions if the score line is what punters are predicting.

Taking out Smith’s few games in the halves he has an exceptional scoring rate in 2020.

He’s a very good option, and if you find yourself chasing ground in your finals clash he becomes are great pick late in the round.

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RISK IT FOR THE BISCUIT

CAM MUNSTER

For all the reasons listed above with the Cowboys defensive deficiencies Munster becomes a huge play too.

If you need a miracle leading into the Roosters clash and you have the C sitting on Teddy, Munster is definitely your Hail Mary play.

The Cowboys concede the most SuperCoach points of any team to 5/8s and the second most to halfbacks.

Furthermore, with Ryan Papenhuyzen out it’ll force Munster to engage the line plenty more rather than just servicing the little star fullback who has been causing havoc outside him.

CODY WALKER and DAMIEN COOK

Looking for an enormous POD play to jump overall ranks, or are you simply looking at your opposition wondering how on earth you can win?

This pair can go large and they’re both coming into serious form at the right end of the season.

The Tigers defence is ordinary and it’s only getting worse. In particular their edge defence which have been on different pages all season.

In the past seven rounds they’ve conceded on average 32 points per game, and haven’t conceded less than 26 to a team since Round 10 against the Broncos.

They concede the sixth most SuperCoach points to five-eighths, so I particularly like Walker as a play.

Walker has scores of 81 and 102 in his past two games, coming against the Eels and Storm.

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CONSENSUS

I was torn prior to writing this article, then the stats I found made it even harder.

James Tedesco is the safe and obvious pick, there’s no two ways about it.

On a personal level I’m looking to VC Cody Walker on Thursday night, and with a few other Rabbitohs in my team it’ll determine my choice.

If they flop and I need to rescue my week I’ll likely go Munster, if they fire I’ll play it safer with Tedesco.

Basically, assess how you’re looking early in the round and if you’re happy than just go Teddy.

If you’re chasing points after a slow start than Munster or Smith look the options for me.

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