Trials recap: Key notes from NRL pre-season clashes

2019 NRL SuperCoach runner-up Walson Carlos provides his takes from each game of the weekend's NRL trial fixtures.


Seven vital NRL trial games were played on Saturday, providing a host of key SuperCoach insights for our Round 1 teams.

Fortunately there weren’t too many injuries out of the action, however Storm hooker Harry Grant is facing up to a month out with a knee injury.

2019 NRL SuperCoach runner-up Walson Carlos runs his eye over the fixtures to provide some key takes from the action.

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Roosters 26 v Raiders 20 (80 minutes)

Joseph Suaalii looks the goods, he looks very sharp.

He did go down injured late, but it was only believed to be cramps. He scored two close range tries for Norths in the reserve grade game against a Raiders side with plenty of NRL experience.

Josh Hodgson looked very good bringing that awesome Raiders pack on to the ball, while Jack Wighton and George Williams looked very sharp.

Joseph Tapine could take his game to the next level this year and he’s already an elite back-rower.

He just needs more minutes which is tough in that forward rotation.

Angus Crichton is an absolute gun, lock him in, and Teddy, leave him out at your own peril.

Lachlan Lam was impressive, particularly in the second half when the Raiders tired.

Sam Walker is going to be a star, but he may not start the season in the side if Keary’s fit.

TKO is a serious consideration for the FRF position, particularly with the added points of goal-kicking.

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Titans 12 v Warriors 12 (80 minutes)

David Fifita looks strong and will terrorise weak defensive halves. He ran over Sean O’Sullivan 3-4 times.

Addin Fonua-Blake looks great. He’s so solid and bends the line every run. This doesn’t necessarily equate to huge SuperCoach scores though.

Ben Murdoch-Masila looks really sharp running on the right edge outside Nikorima.

Nikorima is set for a career year and is a super pod to start the season.

Brian Kelly looks dangerous, and with the Titans playing an expansive style in any field position he should get some good clean ball.

Egan looks like he may have quite a serious arm injury. It’s SuperCoach relevant because the Warriors have little to no depth in the hooker position.

This could mean Jazz Tevaga has to play there. If he plays 80 minutes he’ll have some huge tackle counts, but he likely wouldn’t get the stats in attack from hit ups and offloads.

Leeson Ah Mau looks a solid cheapie POD in the front-row.

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Panthers 16 v Eels 6 (75 minutes)

Jarome Luai looks very sharp and is a sound POD option in the 5/8 position.

Brian To’o had lots of carries and tackle breaks. He will be a premium CTW option this year, I’m sure of that.

Obviously in a bid to kickstart their stuttering attack, Parra have switched Moses and Matto to the left side with Brown and Lane now lining up on the right. The left looks super sharp, the right not so much. 

Momirovski will likely start as the right side centre with Charlie Staines and from what I saw I think it’s fair to say the left side attack for the Panthers will dominate early.

That’s good news for Luai, To’o and Crichton. They’ll hit a right post in attack a lot for left side shifts.

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Koroisau was relatively quiet in first half, but then exploded for a linebreak and try-assist to Cleary early in the second half.

Charlie Staines looks like he may rely heavily on attacking stats. He’s not a particularly strong carrier of the footy out of yardage and he has limited tackle break ability.

Bear in mind he’s the right side winger for the Panthers that match up against the Cowboys and their left side defence in round one. That alone might be enough to keep him in your team.

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Storm 30 v Knights 10 (70 minutes)

Jahrome Hughes looked very good. He was very busy, probing and playing very direct. I wasn’t considering him before the trial, but now I am.

There’s a serious watch on Harry Grant’s knee injury. If he’s out, Brandon Smith comes right into calculations. Some vintage Cheese in the trial reminded us he was supposed to be Cam Smith’s successor, before a bloke called Harry jumped the queue.

Cam Munster was quiet for the Storm. Melbourne’s right wing spot is intriguing.

It’s most likely Reimis Smith gets the role, but Dean Ieremia and Connelly Lumelume are pressing their claims.

Bradman Best looked dangerous, but wait until Ponga’s back.

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Cowboys 34 v Broncos 18 (80 minutes)

While they’ll improve as the year goes on, both of these sides will not make the top 8. Mainly because they have new coaches and they were both almost rock bottom last year.

Lodge was industrious and should score well and get decent minutes. I reckon he’ll play 50-60 minutes.

Drinkwater played half the game at fullback and then Val Holmes played the second half at the back. I think Holmes gets the spot.

If the Cowboys left side remains the same they will be a very vulnerable in defence.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the centres with Clifford on his inside and Holmes outside struggled with defensive reads on multiple occasions.

That could change to Drinkwater and O’Neill by the start of the season, but it hardly inspires any confidence in the left side defence.

Morgan was quiet and looks short of a gallop. I’m going to pass on him even though he probably will increase in value.

Jamayne Isaako looked sharp, but I wouldn’t fall into that trap because the Broncos were playing Cowboys. He’s worth keeping a close eye on though.

Lolo looked solid, I’m leaning towards maybe leaving him out though.

The emergence of Reuben Cotter may eat into some minutes and I don’t know if he’ll be better than last year, but most likely he’ll be the same or slightly worse in terms of SC scoring.

Esan Marsters is stripping very fit and had some good touches. He would be a massive risk to go with though given how he went last year.

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Rabbitohs 48 v Dragons 16 (80 minutes)

Cody Walker had a hat-trick within 21 minutes, while Latrell Mitchell had three try-assists and a try within 36 minutes.

With that pair firing, will this limit Damien Cook’s output in attack?

Keaon Koloamatangi and Jacob Host started on the edge for the Rabbitohs.

Poasa Faamausili started at prop for the Dragons, Blake Lawrie was at lock.

Full report to come later…

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Sharks 12 v Bulldogs 16

Matt Moylan got through the game unscathed, Ronaldo Mulitalo scored a double for the Sharks.

Will Kennedy started at fullback, with Connor Tracey playing from the bench, as did Andrew Fifita.

Kyle Flanagan kicked goals for the Bulldogs, with Brandon Wakeham staring alongside him in the halves.

Full report to come later…

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