Captain’s Challenge: Who to skipper in Round 21?

We run the rule over the best NRL SuperCoach captaincy options to select in Round 21.

Captain's Challenge

It’s far and above the hardest week for captains we’ve had all season, so I’ve dug a little deeper this week to try and find the right man for the job.

The obvious pick every week, Tom Trbojevic, comes up against the Storm who are well known SuperCoach killers.

Further, regular popular options such as Cody Walker and James Tedesco have tough match ups to navigate.

Last week we were on the money, like everyone, with our number one pick of Tommy Trbojevic belting out a new SuperCoach record of 226 points.

Our vice-captain picks of Cody Walker and Adam Doueihi also delivered with 151 and 97 respectively.

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It was a crazy weekend that saw many with the brutal decision of whether to loop Walker or stick with Turbo.

Making it tougher was the fact the Rabbitohs game was switched from the fourth game of the round to the sixth game, meaning many couldn’t use him as their vice-captain, myself included.

Ultimately the decision to loop proved costly for anyone that did, but don’t beat yourself up, it was dead on the borderline of pulling the trigger or not.

It took the highest score of all-time for the loop to prove ineffective, so don’t beat yourself up.

It did however reinforce what we’ve said all season in that the line for looping has gone through the roof.

When you would have taken a score of around 110-120 a year or two back, that line now looks anywhere from 140-160 pending on who the regular skipper would be and the matchup they face.

However, I think with the difficult week we have this round with ceilings looking more limited you could take around 120-130 if your auto-emergency is solid with 30+ points.

Let’s take a look at a very interesting Round 21.

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TIER ONE

KALYN PONGA 

Originally I had no options in the tier one category as I didn’t think anyone was worthy, but with lots trading Ponga in this week I think he fits the bill.

Excluding his injury affected Storm game, his last four scores are 98, 50, 96 and 107.

Earlier in the season he put 163 points on the Sharks in just his second game back from injury.

He now has games under his belt and should be getting back to full fitness.

There is a sternum injury he’s reportedly still carrying though which is probably the only area of concern this week.

Further reinforcing his ceiling were scores of 158 and 172 last season.

He was almost untouchable last weekend and if the unpredictable Knights turn up against an equally unpredictable Broncos he could go huge.

Brisbane have conceded the most SuperCoach points of any team to fullbacks this season.

Further, at tiny ownership he’s a huge skipper.

Ignore the fact he plays the first game of the round, just run the gauntlet.

That is of course unless you’re only carrying say 18 odd players and have a fairly free crack at the vice-captaincy loophole in which case you can VC him.

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TIER TWO

TOM TRBOJEVIC

A season average of 135PPG, two double tons, eight centuries in 11 games, you’d think Turbo is a must?

Unfortunately it’s not that easy, as he faces the might of the Melbourne Storm at near full-strength.

We talk about them often as being SuperCoach killers, well here’s proof.

They concede the least SuperCoach points to every position except for CTW which they concede the second least too.

In 80 minutes against them last season Tommy scored just 22 points.

In eight career games against them he has a top score of just 91.

Melbourne this season have conceded just 45PPG to fullbacks.

Now this isn’t saying he’s not a good option this week, but I do think it’s a great opportunity for an anti-POD move.

I still expect most SuperCoaches to go with him as captain at the fear of missing out on a big score, but I see it as a time to stray away from the pack.

Further, and while I absolutely pray this doesn’t happen, if he were to go down injured early it’d be a massive swing in points for anyone who avoids him.

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ADAM DOUEIHI

I really like Doueihi this week who somehow appears to be relatively fixture proof despite the volatile performances of the Tigers.

Look no further than his 80 against Manly and 97 against South Sydney within the past month.

In terms of ceiling, he put 154 on Brisbane three weeks back, and 141 on the Titans earlier in the season.

He now gets a match up with the Bulldogs who concede the fifth and seventh most points to halfbacks and five-eighths respectively, surprisingly not actually that bad.

However they do concede the most to CTWs and fourth most to fullbacks which suggests to me Doueihi can capitalise with plenty of try-assists on the fragile edges.

It’s not without some risk as the Bulldogs are right in this game and could cause an upset.

Doueihi is capable of scoring 20s, but on a tough week he looms as a serious play.

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DAVID FIFITA

Fifita looks pretty tempting this week, but his new role off the bench is concerning.

He’s been named to start as per recent weeks, but a game day switch to the bench looks likely.

In his past three games he’s averaged just 57MPG.

Not that that means you should put a straight line though him as an option, he did put 134 points on the Dragons in 56 minutes two weeks back.

He faces the Cowboys this week and will likely be running at Scott Drinkwater, dear Lord give that poor soul strength…

The Cowboys concede the most SuperCoach points to second-rowers of any team.

While not quite that of the elite fullbacks, we know he has a big ceiling with scores of 147 and 153 this season.

It’s hard that he’s playing the final game of the round because we won’t know if he starts or not.

If he started I’d probably be locking him in.

Interestingly Todd Payton has shifted Jason Taumalolo to an edge this week, perhaps it’s in a bid to combat Fifita. 

If those two go head-to-head it’s going to be unbelievable viewing.

Excluding his injury affected game against the Roosters (47 points in 32 minutes), last week’s 58 points against the Dogs was his lowest all season, not bad.

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PAYNE HAAS

I’m not going to elaborate much on Haas as you know what you’re going to get.

On a tough week of skippers you can just about lock in a score of minimum 70, with an upside of 100+ if he can jag a major attacking stat.

He’s based over 60 in his past four games and looks to have settled into a 65 minute role for the Broncos.

That’s more than enough time to deliver as skipper.

He plays game one, so you’ll have to straight captain if going with him.

I’ll be avoiding as I think the days are gone of chasing captains who score 80s, you need to pursue the 150+ scores even on a tough week like this.

Unless you basically have a free shot at the vice-captaincy loophole, which many will, I’d avoid vice-captaining him as he likely won’t get enough to warrant looping so I think it’s wasted.

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CAPTAIN RISKY/PODS

CODY WALKER

The Parramatta match up is tough to assess as they’ve been terrible of late and the Bunnies did belt them 38-20 back in Round 12.

The Eels aren’t missing many players so surely they show up for this clash?

Anyway, Cody has been remarkably consistent this season with only one score under 50 which came against Melbourne.

He’s averaging 82PPG and has a 5RA of 109PPG.

However, if the Eels do show up and turn it into a grinding affair as per the Raiders a fortnight back it could be a worry.

I feel like the Rabbitohs strike will be too much for the Eels and he can score well again.

To put you off the decision, the Eels concede the 15th and 14th least points to halfbacks and five-eights respectively, that’s concerning.

Cody did put 83 on them last time out though.

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HARRY GRANT

If Grant didn’t have that hamstring concern that’s kept him out this season he’d be a straight up pick as skipper.

The kid is a freak and will be an all-time SuperCoach scorer going forward.

He put 88 on Penrith in just 58 minutes last week.

We haven’t seen a 150+ ceiling as of yet that other players might offer, but it’s coming. 

It’s hard to fathom he’s played just 23 NRL games and only eight for the Storm.

I can see him averaging 100+ for the rest of the season.

If you can look past the injury aggravation risk then lock him in, but I don’t think I can.

Manly concede the sixth most SuperCoach points to hookers.

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JAMES TEDESCO

Teddy is a hard one to assess, and deep diving into stats is pretty irrelevant as Penrith are depleted with injury and the Roosters have been all season, so I think they’re pretty skewed.

While the Roosters aren’t exactly the Storm, Penrith were belted last week and have looked out of sorts due to the injury crisis that’s left them void of any fluency in attack.

If Nathan Cleary does come in on game day it’d be enough for me to avoid Teddy, but if he doesn’t I do like him as a POD option with a huge ceiling.

He only put 54 on them back in Round 15, but that was a vastly different looking Penrith side.

He’s looking absolutely lethal and will be desperate to lift his side into a top four spot for finals.

I don’t think Teddy is hugely risky as such, more that he could well score 50.

AVOID

CHERRY EVANS/HUGHES/CLEARY/HYNES/LATRELL

All of the above have tough match ups and most have question marks around minutes and fitness.

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VERDICT

It’s a seriously tough call this week that may have major implications on the overall standings and final top eight spots in head-to-head leagues.

I don’t own Kalyn Ponga, but if I did I’d be giving him the captain’s armband this week.

Again, I don’t own, but Adam Doueihi is my second pick.

If you find yourself in a position to have a free crack at the vice-captain loophole then give the VC to Payne Haas and you could nearly loop if he gets 90 odd.

But as mentioned above, if you don’t have a free crack at it and would need to drop a player and cop an auto-emergency I’d avoid. There won’t be many in that position though.

Personally I’m leaning towards David Fifita as captain and Cody Walker as vice-captain, but gee it’s tough. 

Good luck to everyone this week.

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

3RA = Three round average

5RA = Five round average

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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