Final Word: Rd 1, key trade + tactical advice

2019 runner-up Walson Carlos has the final say on the major Round 1 plays, including PODs and captaincy options.

Final Word Pre-season

It’s such an exciting time of the year for diehard SuperCoaches and just pure NRL fans alike. 

The flurry of late team changes looking for the edge at the start of the season are rampant among my SC Playbook colleagues. 

Here’s my down low on the first round of the season 2021. 

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PODs & Super PODS 

You’re looking for info and not me waffling, so here’s the players I’ve identified as PODs (Point of Difference players – less than 10% owned) and Super PODS (less than 2% owned). I’ve listed them in ranking order of who I believe is the best to take the risk on: 

PODs (My top-6 ranked) 

  1. Mitchell Barnett – Surely doesn’t start at 4% ownership now he has the goal-kicking assignments. Absolute steal at that price with the Knights early season draw. 
  2. Nathan Brown – Set to benefit from the Eels lack of forward depth on the bench. Expect a big start to the season if he can be disciplined. 
  3. Clint Gutherson – The Storm and Papenhuyzen have a tough start to the season. Gutho gets some games he could really go big in starting with the Broncos. If you were keen to take a flyer and go against Papi or god-forbid Teddy. 
  4. Jarome Luai – What a season last year and looking at the trials he looks like going from strength to strength. He has intangibles. 
  5. Addin Fonua-Blake – AFB is ready to take his game to the next level. Look for his customary dominant charges possibly with the addition of a pre-line passing game to go with increased offloads. 
  6. Luke Brooks – Would be higher up this list given his price, but his draw gives SC players reason to pause. The Tigers have a tough start to the season, but Brooks is undoubtedly the main man. No Benji and no Josh Reynolds. 
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Super PODs (My top-5 ranked)

  1. Kodi Nikorima – Set for a career year and likely gets the bonus of the goal-kicking until CHT fully recovers from quad injury. 
  2. Euan Aitken – What could this guy do with some clean early ball? I think we are going to find out and it might be special. 
  3. Andrew McCullough – Okay, it’s not sexy, but he is a workhorse, significantly underpriced and guaranteed 80 minutes. Expect huge tackle counts. 
  4. Eliesa Katoa – A future superstar of the game that has only barely touched on what he can do in the NRL. This guy’s potential is untapped and immense. 
  5. Joey Leilua – Stripping fit and playing on the edge outside his brother. Forget about defence because a missed tackle is only -1 in SuperCoach. That left side attacking edge for the Tigers however will be good to watch and I expect Joey to be prominent.  
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Including players is not the only way to get ahead in SuperCoach. Leaving out the right players can also help you rocket up the overall leaderboard. 

Consider starting without one or a number of these highly owned players:

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui – There’s massive hype on Big Tino, but huge question marks over the minutes he will get. 

Tesi Niu – Tesi wasn’t a particularly strong scorer at FLB and now moves to be an undersized CTW in a struggling side. Very low price but minimal upside. 

Cameron Munster – Ever consistent, but was very quiet in the trials. It’d be a brave move to do it though. 

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Matchups are important in SuperCoach. Here’s a few matchups to consider for this weekend’s games. Don’t forget the weather. Weather can ruin the best laid plans in life and SuperCoach is no different. All these matchups are weather dependant: 

  • The Newcastle Knights take on the Bulldogs on Friday night and it appears a good match up for a few Knights players including Connor Watson, who is the 8th most owned SC player, Mitch Barnett (with news he has the goal-kicking duties at least until Ponga returns) and Tex Hoy, who looked exciting in his brief stints last year. The Dogs are now under the Barrett regime and although they are a side that will improve as the year goes on, the side on paper looks to be significantly weaker than the Knights.  
  • I’m just not convinced the Brisbane Broncos will bounce straight back into contention. 2020 exposed some deep problems in that club whether it be recruitment, list management, culture or whatever else. The jury is still out whether Kevvy Walters can be a successful NRL coach, but the time is now for him to show what he’s got. The Parramatta Eels look very solid, albeit they lack some squad depth in 2021. I expect Parra to take care of business and possibly do a job on the Broncos. Gutherson, Sivo, Matterson on the left edge look set to score well in SuperCoach this Friday. Moses will likely get plenty of conversions and expect Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown to play big minutes with that bench named. 
  • The Penrith Panthers right edge v the NQ Cowboys left edge defence. If the Cowboys starting team holds up then expect some traffic to go at the left edge defence. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow looked all at sea in the trial match against the Broncos making some poor defensive reads that led to Brisbane tries. Both sides of the Cowboys edge defence have huge question marks over it. That shapes up well for owners of Nathan Cleary, Kurt Capewell, Paul Momirovski, Charlie Staines and even the other side of the field including Luai, Kikau, Crichton and To’o. 
  • I was shocked when I read the team that Manly has put out for Round 1. Sure they have reunited Foran and DCE – the halves pairing that secured their last premiership, but the rest of their side has been decimated by injury and off-season departures. You would hope they put up a fight but this could seriously get ugly if the Roosters start the season like they returned from the Covid-imposed break in 2020. It augurs well for James Tedesco, Angus Crichton and many other Roosters like Lam, TKO, Tupou and Keary


James Tedesco will be my captain just because they get a day game vs Manly, so unless it’s wet I’ll stick with Teddy I think. Cleary is a solid option that I couldn’t knock. Any other player would be a risk but it may well be a risk worth taking if you want to get ahead of the pack. A player like Cody Walker or even Ryan Papenhuyzen could score well.  

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Bets of the week

Market all courtesy of TopSport

Brandon Smith Any time Tryscorer – $6

Eliesa Katoa Any time Tryscorer – $3.95

Charlie Staines 2+ tries – $5.70

Multi – Knights/Eels/Warriors/Panthers/Roosters all to Win – $7.64

Value multi – Eels -8.5/Panther -9.5/Warriors 1-12/Roosters -9.5 – $24.69

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