Bargain buys: Cheapies to target for Round 1

Last year's NRL SuperCoach runner-up Tim Williams eyes off the bargain priced players to monitor heading into the season opener.

Pre-season

Nailing your Round 1 cheapies is arguably the most important aspect of the entire NRL SuperCoach season.

If you get them right, it saves wasting multiple trades to get the right blokes in, and of course starts your journey towards to maximising your team value.

Get them wrong, and you’ll find yourself scrambling to catch up from early on in the season.

It’s also vital to know which players to actually run in your 17 to start the year.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations.

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It’s vital to read the list below with an open mind as so much will change between the time of writing and Round 1.

Injuries will occur, young guns will tear up in trials, and coaches will provide squad updates that will impact everything below.

We’ll do our best to update the list as the news unfolds, but at this time of year it happens rapidly.

Initially I intended to rank the cheapies as per last season, but as it stands I think we look well placed in the cheapie department with plenty of options (this could turn big time come Round 1).

There’s also not a lot separating many players, and with fewer trial games this pre-season it’s made it even harder to assess.

Instead I’ve listed them in an approximate order of buy value for Round 1 to give a guide, but it’s not a rock solid order, so don’t read entirely into where players are listed.

If you think we’ve missed someone, let us know in the comments below and we can add them to the list.

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Connor Watson // 288,600 // HOK-5/8

Firstly, there’s a lot of mystery around Watson with his touted move to lock.

Will he start? What minutes will he play? What happens when Fitzgibbons returns?

What isn’t a mystery is that he’s a SuperCoach gun when fit, firing, and getting good game time in any position, meaning he’s a steal at under $300k.

He spent some time in the roaming lock role last season, but was limited to just five games, all under 50 minutes.

He didn’t start any at lock, so he really is hard to assess.

There’s no use digging too deep into his SuperCoach history as it’s largely been at 5/8, fullback or hooker, but we know how good he is wherever he plays.

If he does start at lock I’ll definitely be buying, and I probably will even off the bench as he should still see 50+ minutes.

Chances: Expected to start at lock.

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Matt Lodge // $299,000 // FRF

Lodge sneaks into the cheapie category by $1,000.

I think he may just be the pick of the lot too.

I understand that coming back from a serious injury is a concern, but as a front-rower it should have less of an impact.

With Payne Haas out for the first three rounds it’s enormous for the minutes of Lodge.

He’s cheap having only played six games in 2020, averaging 38PPG in 42MPG.

Look back to 2019 where he averaged 63PPG, in 57MPG at an output of 1.1PPM.

If he can get back to an average of even 50PPG which I think he’s very capable of, that’d see him make around $150k, lovely!

Furthermore, he’s a fairly safe pick to play in your 17 in the early stages of the year rather than some of the CTW cheapies with terrible base.

Chances: Should start at prop in Round 1 unless eased back from injury from the bench.

Matt Moylan // $253,600 // FLB-5/8

Oh Moyza, please stay fit! At least until owners make our cash…

He played just eight games last season and 11 in 2019. The lack of footy means he’s dirt cheap at just over $250k.

Go back a few years when stringing a decent amount of games together and the numbers are good.

His SuperCoach averages from 2016-18 were 63, 59 and 52PPG.

If he can produce an average of 50PPG that’d net him $200k in profit.

I really like him for Round 1 at the price, but whether or not I start with him in my 17 due to injury history is another question!

Chances: Will start at 5/8.

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Daine Laurie // $223,200 // CTW-FLB

The Tigers recruit is expected to be catapulted into the starting fullback role for Round 1.

In one 80 minute game last season he scored 71 points with a ridiculous 45 in base!!!

A one game sample size shouldn’t be read into too much, but if he is starting come Round 1 you can’t ignore him.

Chances: Is a strong chance at starting at fullback in Round 1.

Charlie Staines // $297,700 // FLB-CTW

Staines averaged a ridiculous 112PPG across his two games last season, leading to a largely inflated price to start 2021.

It’s a huge shame for SuperCoach purposes he averaged that because it puts him outside of genuine cheapie range.

He had six tries in his two outings, producing scores of 158 and 66.

He’s hard to assess due to the small sample size, however on the snippet we’ve seen and the fact the Panthers released Mansour to promote him can only mean good things.

His 18BPG is pretty appalling, but again, small sample size…

Playing in a red-hot Panthers outfit he should score well, but with a recent history of hamstring injuries he’s not necessarily a play for Round 1 in 17s.

Chances: Will start on the wing.

Shawn Blore // $210,500 // 2RF

Blore played five games last season, averaging 26PPG in 26MPG.

He looks an absolute star and is pushing for a starting spot in Round 1 (pending injury) which would make him a must-have.

Even off the bench you’d think he’s shown enough in limited opportunity to warrant an increase on his 26 minutes from last season.

If he’s off the bench he’ll make a fairly slow burning cow and is probably still a buy, if he’s starting he’ll make cash fast.

Blore was injured during the Tigers recent trial game, and may miss a few rounds. If out for 1-2 weeks I’d probably still pick, if any longer I’ll be waiting. Let’s wait for more information.

Chances: He’s fighting for a starting spot, with the trial against the Sea Eagles sure to give us a greater idea.

Leeson Ah Mau // $291,000 // FRF

I’m not convinced Ah Mau will start in Round 1, but he’s a good chance.

He averaged 47MPG last season at just 0.78PPM.

I can’t see him increasing his minutes this season, but interestingly in the season prior he played the same minutes for a 1.08PPM and 51PPG average.

He played just two games last season hence the deflated price.

He had an output of over 1.14PPM in the two seasons prior, so if he can match this in decent time there’s money to be made.

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Keaon Koloamatangi // $301,200 // 2RF

Firstly, Kolomatangi is far from locked in for a starting spot at the Rabbitohs, he’s also priced a pinch over genuine cheapie range, but I thought he was worth including anyway.

With Murray set to start at lock, it opens up the left back-row role that could fall to a number of candidates, and I currently have Koloamatangi with his nose in front.

Last season he averaged 33BPG in 35MPG at an output of 0.98PPM.

His work rate is solid, but would also reduce on the edge rather than the middle.

I rate him as a player, but I’m not convinced he’d be the SuperCoach star we’re expecting.

Many will be of the belief he’s extremely capable of jagging attacking stats to bolster his base, but last year’s numbers tell a different story.

In his 11 games he failed to score a try, try-assist (not that it’s expected from a middle), broke just five tackles and had three offloads.

I think he’ll certainly improve on this in 2021 as he’s a player on the up with huge potential, but I’d want to see him locked in for 50-60 minutes minimum before picking.

I do however love the fact he’d be on the left edge running off Cody Walker.

Even if starting I’d be tempted to wait until the initial price rise in Round 3, but it’ll also depend on how the pre-season unfolds and the cheapie stocks in Round 1.

Chances: Is a strong chance of starting on the left edge, but isn’t assured the role.

Jordan Riki // $277,500 // 2RF

Riki was a huge SuperCoach talking point out of the All Stars clash, scoring a try with a linebreak in a strong outing.

Considering the decent minutes his output wasn’t great. He had nine runs for 71m, 18 tackles and five tackle breaks.

Regardless, the talent is clearly there, and it could earn him a starting role at the Broncos.

In five games last season, he averaged 35PPG in 42MPG at 0.82PPM.

He played one 80 minute game in Round 20, scoring 54 points with 50 in base.

While he may not play too many more than his 42 minutes if on the bench, he’d still be a decent slow burning cash cow.

Even so, I think on what we’ve seen he’s worth the investment despite the slightly awkward price.

If he starts in the back-row he’s a must-have.

Chances: Is a decent chance of starting in the back-row, but should see decent minutes off the bench regardless.

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Jacob Liddle // $247,200 // HOK or Jake Simpkins // $173,700 // HOK

Simpkins and Liddle are fighting for the starting hooker role at the Tigers, with one to play off the bench.

It’s early days, but I suspect the victor will play around 50 minutes and the loser to play around 30.

This means that I’d steer away from Liddle if he starts as he’s awkwardly priced with a terrible injury history.

If it’s Simpkins he’d be a lock in even if playing just 50 minutes.

It’s a massive watch in the trial against the Sea Eagles which will hopefully give us a fair idea.

Chances: Likely to play together, trial to have a big impact on who starts.

Bailey Simonsson // $205,000 // CTW-FLB

Simonsson played just six games last season due to injury, averaging just 59MPG as a result.

In four 80 minute games he had scores of 26, 53, 19 and 44. It makes for okay reading, but very respectable when you look at his $205k price tag.

In 2019 he played 18 games, averaging 70MPG and 38PPG.

If he’s playing 80MPG on the wing we can expect him to average approximately 40-42PPG, although it’s obviously harder to predict the scoring of wingers, which would have him priced at around $350k for a $140k price rise.

Chances: Expected to start on the wing.

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James Roberts // $277,700 // CTW

Jimmy the Jet isn’t historically a great SuperCoach player, but he’s incredibly cheap.

Injury limited him to six games last season, averaging 35PPG in 66MPG.

In the four seasons prior, he averaged 42, 46, 60 and 51PPG.

If he could lift to even 45PPG he’d see a rise to around $400k, earning over $120k.

I’m very tempted, but it could go either way. He’s another who I’ll be keeping a close eye on in the trial to see how fit he’s looking.

I am concerned about the ability of the players inside him to unleash him to his full potential.

Chances: Will start at centre in Round 1.

Jason Saab // $233,200 // CTW

Tommy Turbo’s injury will only help Saab’s chances of getting a start on the wing for Manly.

In four 80 minute games last season for the Dragons he averaged 29PPG with just 20BPG.

I’d be far happier to buy if Trbojevic was available to feed Saab quality ball, but with him out I think it hurts the recruit a lot.

If starting I’ll likely still buy, but I’d avoid playing in your 17 with his low base.

Chances: Should start on the wing, but faces competition.

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David Fusitu’a // $251,800 // CTW

An interrupted season saw Fusitu’a play just eight games in 2020.

He averaged a poor 28PPG with just 23BPG.

While traditionally an extremely inconsistent scorer due to his reliance on tries, historically he averages okay (for a bloke priced at $251k).

In his four seasons prior, he averaged 37, 48, 42 and 51PPG.

While I wouldn’t expect the world if investing, he only needs to cross for a few tries in succession to make some reasonable coin.

However, with some very low scores to his name in the past I’d avoid playing in my 17.

Chances: Expected to start on the wing in Round 1, but did play centre at times last season.

Stefano Utoikamanu // 186,800 // FRF

The former Eel comes with big wraps, but we only saw a glimpse of him last season.

He played three games, averaging 8 points in 14 minutes.

He’ll be pretty hard to pass up at the price, but he looks like a genuine slow-burning cash cow.

The makeup of the Tigers bench will be key, but it’ll likely have a reserve hooker, two props and a back-rower, so he should see some reasonable time.

Chances: Expected to play off the bench in limited time early on.

Anthony Milford // $304,600 // 5/8

Another who is marginally above cheapie range, but worth a mention.

Milford is recovering from a broken hand and is pushing to be fit for Round 1.

If he had dual positioning he’d be a massive play, but at only 5/8 we’re forced to choose between the likes of Munster, Walker, Moylan, Watson and now potentially Milford.

I just don’t think he edges out two of those players despite his tantalising value.

He’s still only 26-years-old, arguably only reaching his peak age for a playmaker.

In his four seasons prior to 2020 where he crashed alongside the entire Brisbane outfit, he averaged 51, 55, 70 and 67PPG.

I’ll probably hold off, but if he and the Broncos fire in the opening few rounds it’ll make for a very intriguing trade round.

Tesi Niu // $232,500 // CTW-FLB

Niu looks fairly tempting, but his starting spot will have a big impact.

With the unsettled Brisbane backline he could play fullback, centre or wing.

In three 80 minute games at fullback last season he averaged 43PPG with 27BPG.

Realistically I’ll probably own regardless of where he plays, but I won’t be starting him in my 17 unless he’s at fullback.

Chances: Could start anywhere in the backline come Round 1.

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Spencer Leniu // $218,500 // FRF

20-year-old Leniu is loaded with potential and is a decent cheapie prospect having played 12 games from the bench last season.

I’m concerned he won’t increase significantly enough on his 20MPG from 2020 though.

He did score at 1.23PPM in that time which is huge.

Isaah Yeo, Viliame Kikau and Liam Martin will play 60-80 minutes each, Kurt Capewell is likely to be off the bench, and James Fisher-Harris is capable of big time at prop.

He’s a decent slow burning cash cow to start the year with, and for anyone who doesn’t own he’ll be a very close watch early on.

Chance: Expected to play off the bench and see 20-30 minutes of action, with potential for more.

Josh Schuster // $203,100 // 5/8

Schuster played just one game last season in the 5/8 role, scoring 31 points in 65 minutes.

He’s likely to be named in Round 1, but will it be starting or as the bench utility?

If he starts, he’s a definite buy. If he’s off the bench, I’d avoid.

Obviously if starting he’d soar up this roughly ranked list.

We should have a fair idea after Manly’s trial.

Chances: Is a chance at starting at 5/8, but is more likely to play a utility role off the bench.

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Ryan James // $236,700 // FRF-2RF

Pre-season will be a huge watch on the gun forward. If he excels in the trials and jags a bench spot he’s obviously going to warrant strong consideration at just $236k.

However, there’s the competition for minutes which will be an issue.

He averaged 63PPG in 2018, 60PPG in 2017 and 72PPG in 2017, so the SuperCoach pedigree is clearly there.

Outside of 2017 where he scored at a ridiculous 1.23PPM due to a try-scoring bonanza, he traditionally scores at around 0.8-0.9PPM.

I’ll likely avoid unless we are short on cheapies for Round 1, and if he gets decent time in Round 1 and 2 we can jump on before the price rise occurs.

Chances: With CHN and Corey Horsburgh missing the first round minimum he should jag a bench role, but it’s unknown whether he will remain once they return. Big watch.

Jack Hetherington // $294,500 // FRF

Hetherington just sneaks in as a cheapie, and is a chance at starting for the Bulldogs.

He averaged 33PPG in 45MPG at an output of 0.73PPM last season, so I don’t see him increasing on this too significantly.

He’d need to increase to an absolute minimum of 50+ minutes at that output to warrant buying.

Chances: Is a chance of starting at prop in Round 1.

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Tex Hoy // $240, 300 // 5/8-FLB

I’ve got Hoy down low because there’s uncertainty around Kalyn Ponga’s injury.

At this stage, I’ve seen anywhere from 0-6 weeks, but the stronger reports suggest it’ll be in the 4-6 week range.

Ideally you’d want a minimum of two price rises out of Hoy to justify the purchase, meaning Ponga would have to be out until Round 5.

I’d want to see a reputable report saying he’s out until Round 6 to consider.

We can also leave him out for the first two rounds, and if he goes big we can get him in before the imminent price rises occur.

That’s the tactic I’ll likely opt for at this stage, barring any news of Ponga’s delayed return.

Hoy averaged 27PPG in 45MPG last season.

He started two games at fullback for scores of 54 (90 minutes) and 44. 

In these two games he had an exceptional 35BPG and 36BPG.

If we get word prior to Round 1 that Ponga will miss 5/6 rounds, Hoy will catapult up the list, so let’s keep a close eye out for news out of the Hunter.

Greg Marzhew // $173,700 // CTW

Formerly going by the name Greg Leleisiuao, the Titans winger stormed into contention for a Round 1 wing spot with a hat-trick in the club’s trial loss to Burleigh.

It was a second string Titans side, so it can’t be read into too much, but it’s certainly placed him in the frame.

If he starts at basement price he’d be a quality cheapie.

Haze Dunster // $173,700 // CTW

The pre-season injury to Michael Oldfield means the starting centre role likely falls to Dunster or Opacic.

Dunster recently stated that he’s been training on the wing, with Opacic expected to win the centre role.

Dunster is basement price and would be a must-have if he won the role, but it now looks likely he’ll be an injury away from an NRL start.

At the price you’d could sit him on your bench as a non-player, but it’d only be if we were void of Round 1 cheapies.

At this stage I think we’ll be okay, so it’s not required.

Chances: Expected to be one injury away from a start.

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OTHERS TO MONITOR – BIG WATCH ON TRIALS/RD 1 TEAMS

Corey Oates // $245,500 // CTW-2RF

Jesse Arthars // $267,100 // CTW

Zac Saddler $173,700 // FRF-2RF

Christian Tuipulotu // $237,400 // CTW

Matt Timoko $203,100 // CTW

Adam Cook $186,800 // FLB

Jed Cartwright // $203,100 // 2RF-CTW

Poasa Faamausili // $232,700 // FRF

Joe Stimson // $228,900 // 2RF

Sam Walker // $173,700 // HFB

Jayden Sullivan // $205,500 // HFB

John Asiata // $252,100 // FRF-2RF

Max Feagai // $203,100 // CTW

Mathew Feagai // $173,700 // CTW

Jai Whitbread // $265,800 // FRF

Daniel Alvaro // $255,800 // FRF

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

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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