As we come out of a ruthless round 17 bye round where most teams struggled to field more than eight or nine players, it becomes paramount that Supercoach players begin to understand the scarcity aspect of trades left alongside the pros and cons of playing aggressively to make up points.
Many Supercoaches will only be a handful of trades away from completing their ideal final 17 for the run home, having kept the spine of their team intact over the State of Origin period.
Naturally, teams will begin to look increasingly similar as we approach the pointy end of the season, however, there remains some positions that can be experimented with right until the end.
Hooker is a position that many have struggled with this year. Grant has been outstanding when he has played, which simply has not been often enough to warrant selection.
Brandon Smith is the best pick of the hookers right now provided Harry continues to come off the bench when back from injury.
Damien Cook is another option for Supercoaches looking to roll the dice towards the back end.
We know Souths have a very decent draw and we also know that Cook is capable of absolutely decimating teams once the forwards start rolling through allowing for some fast play the balls.
Front-row probably is not the position to muck around with considering the top couple of FRF are pretty cut and dry. Papali’i, Haas and TPJ are the only guys with ceilings worth getting out of bed for.
Second-row is another position that will be extremely hard to take a chance on during the run home, with most Supercoaches knowing there is no real point in choosing anyone other than Fifita, Crichton, Tohu and possibly Matterson/Taumalolo. Unfortunately, the risk to anti-POD these players far outweighs the reward.
Halfback is an interesting one and will become even more interesting when the injured Nathan Cleary returns in round 20/21 with a price tag of $1.1m.
Any team in the top 1000 who has the trades and cash left to bring Cleary back in will gain a supreme advantage over the last month of footy. The next best halfbacks currently look to be DCE and Hughes, as Manly and Melbourne look to continually put big scores on their opponents.
5/8 is another position I don’t really see any merit in getting too tricky with. Cody Walker and Cameron Munster will be the top two in this position for the run home. However, if Adam Doueihi moves back to 5/8 this week, then he may be worth a gamble on if you have plenty of trades left.
CTW and fullback, as always, remain the best two positions to attack the rankings with.
The biggest decision will likely be who Supercoaches choose to pair with Turbo for the last eight weeks of play.
Papenhuyzen would of course be the ideal candidate, however he has taken over two months to return from a head knock which could mean he is eased back in to play off the bench and lose significant chunks of cash.
Tedesco and Ponga are probably the only other viable options as they will both need to step up and carry their respective teams to a few crucial late season wins.
Centre-wing spots are up for grabs besides To’o, Johnston and Garrick being the obvious must have top three.
Guys like Ramien, Staggs and Tupou are very much in contention for the last CTW spots due to their consistent base attack, whilst Nicho Hynes remains a hold until Papenhuyzen returns and is one less CTW keeper to worry about in the meantime.
Good luck this weekend and remember to try only using your trades on the absolute best players in each position for the run home, while also taking an aggressive line on the positions where the best players aren’t as clear cut.