Pivotal decision: Ranking the SuperCoach 5/8 contenders

2019 NRL SuperCoach champion Dez Creek breaks down the all-important 5/8 position that could make-or-break the overall race.

Champion PODs

Alright folks, I think it’s time we take a deep dive into the 5/8 position for the remainder of the 2021 Supercoach season.

I have pinpointed this position as a potential massive differentiator between teams for the run home, and so far, I have not seen many people worried about it with most content on running Josh Schuster or Connor Watson paired with an out and out gun – this will change dramatically over the coming weeks (particularly after the first bye round) as people look to bring in that second gun 5/8 for the run home.

Courtesy of fellow SCPlaybook contributor and stats wizard Adam Druissi, we have access to this spectacular table to help breakdown the position in a more critical manner.  

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As stated above and depicted here, Schuster and Watson are heavily owned by the majority of top teams and have both averaged a healthy 60+ so far prior to the conclusion of Round 9 where they underwhelmed.

Both have made massive amounts of cash but are soon to peak, which unfortunately for owners is going to happen well in advance of the first bye round.

This is not to say trade these guys out before that bye round, but it must be a consideration. Particularly with Schuster not playing Round 13. We know that Munster is a lock for QLD and Luai/Walker are fighting for the NSW spot, so it is awfully hard to go early on either of them for this reason.

Dylan Brown, Matt Burton and Adam Doueihi are the three guys I really want to have a look at in the mid-term because I suspect that most people will wait on trading in Walker/Luai/Munster until after Origin which makes sense on most fundamental standpoints however, I will still explore these options below.

Since writing this analysis Brown now faces a suspension, so he looms as a serious POD bye before Round 13 provided he’s available. We’ll wait and see how the week plays out at the judiciary.

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The forgotten man Dylan Brown sits at 0% ownership in the top 100 and just 1% ownership in the top 500-20000, and so far, he has just one try assist to his name while remarkably still averaging over 50 points! His base stats are even topping the 5/8 base stat king Cam Munster which is a massive testament to his defensive capabilities (average of 30 tackles a game) and willingness to run the ball (average of 9 runs a game).

Last season Brown averaged well over 60 which saw him start this season priced at $564k which has since dropped to $469k, and I suspect leading up to the bye round (with Eels draw being quite friendly) we will see him bolster his average back up to over 60 in no time. Again, the looming judiciary hearing is now amajor concern.

A massive POD move is to trade Schuster/Watson to D Brown (when available) in the short-term and have him as your bye playing 5/8 as he will most likely outscore both these guys once the attacking stats start to flow in which they invariably will, not to mention he will almost certainly increase in price while they will leak money.

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Matt Burton is our second prime candidate on this list with just 4% ownership in the top 100-20000 teams.

Burton, as we know, is playing out of position at left centre for the Panthers however it is in fact the most lethal attacking edge in the whole competition by far with Brian To’o and Jarome Luai absolutely blazing away over the opening rounds of the season.

Sitting at $455k (roughly the same price as Brown) Burton is averaging over 60 points with five tries, two try-assists and a whopping eight linebreaks!

Penrith, much like Parramatta, have an extremely kind draw leading up to the bye round – playing the Sharks, Titans, Bunnies, Bulldogs and Tigers so I think we can expect more of what we have already seen.

Another bonus is that Burton will be playing in his preferred halves position for the bye round and may very well slap up the biggest bye round score of any half against the struggling Tigers.

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Adam Doueihi is our final candidate on the POD 5/8 trade in list who also plays the bye round.

Doueihi sits at $570k and averages a very healthy 75 points with an extremely favourable draw over the next month of footy.

He has been the Tigers shining light alongside Daine Laurie in what has been a miserable opening eight weeks of footy for Wests.

Doueihi seems to be the focal point in attack for the Tigers and has shown a willingness to run the ball at the line with a staggering 27 runs over the past two weeks which is very Supercoach conducive. Add the goal-kicking on top, Doueihi shapes as a serious option with his current 2% ownership across the board.

Another guy I want to look at is a forgotten gun and the second best Supercoach halfback in the comp (who is also duel 5/8) the one and only 0% owned Shaun Johnson.

Granted the Sharks do not play the first bye round so I would not bring him in until after that (for the second bye round).

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The Sharks have a run of easy games from rounds 15-24 (playing just one top 8 side – the Warriors!), SJ will be an absolute must-have over this period and should see a nice price drop from his current $528k to hopefully well under $500k or thereabouts which would be a steal.

This is the guy that I see most people pairing with one of Munster/Luai/Walker for the run home and once you see that Sharks draw for yourself you will not have any second thoughts about bringing him straight in.

Now let us get to the question on everyone’s mind – who out of Munster, Luai and Walker will be the highest scoring 5/8 for the remainder of the season? All these guys sit around $600k and all average between 65-78 (considering Munster and Walker’s scores on Thursday night).

Cody Walker plays six of the current bottom eight teams for the remainder of the season, but you know what you are getting with Cody either way – rocks or diamonds.

He has the propensity to go 150+ on any given day, but he also has the propensity to go 20 aswell. A serious concern for Walker owners thus far is his six tries, nine try-assists and 11 linebreak assists so far this season should see Cody averaging over 70, however this is not the case.

Based on these stats we can’t say he isn’t in form or on a hot streak, because he certainly is, but it just isn’t translating to big enough Supercoach points thus far given he has next to no base stats at all.

Cameron Munster plays eight of the current bottom eight teams for the remainder of the season, and quite the opposite of Walker he is safe for 50+ points week in week out no matter the opponent.

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He has the second highest base out of any 5/8 and has potential for those 150+ scores that we all crave, however, is less likely than Cody to do so.

The way the Storm are playing right now has Harry Grant distributing the ball right and left equally, whereas Cam Smith used to predominantly go left to Munster on attacking sets.

Furthermore, Jahrome Hughes is taking the majority of end of set kicks which leaves Munster’s potential for forced dropouts and try-assists potential slightly less than year’s prior.

Jarome Luai plays six of the current bottom eight teams for the remainder of the season, and much like Walker he relies on attacking stats – racking up one try and a whopping 13 try-assists with 14 linebreak assists so far this season.

Luai also has incredible base attack with 19 tackle busts, five forced dropouts and 12 offloads so far this season which helps increase his scoring floor considerably.

The way Penrith are playing this season I just can’t see these stats slowing down anytime soon, in fact with just one 100+ score so far this season I think we only see Luai’s average increase from here on out.

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Buy SJ as a 5/8 in Round 15 and hold (provided you think Sam Walker is a keeper at halfback which I absolutely think he is if he retains goal-kicking over TKO) to pair with Luai for the run home.

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