Squad Breakdown: Cowboys 2023 SuperCoach analysis

2020 NRL Supercoach runner-up Tim Williams takes a deep dive into the credentials of the Cowboys for Round 1.

NRL Pre Season

1. Scott Drinkwater
2. Murray Taulagi
3. Peta Hiku
4. Valentine Holmes
5. Kyle Feldt
6. Tom Dearden
7. Chad Townsend
8. Jordan McLean
9. Reece Robson
10. Reuben Cotter
11. Jeremiah Nanai
12. Coen Hess
13. Jason Taumalolo

14. Jake Granville
15. James Tamou
16. Griffin Neame
17. Mitch Dunn

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Team News

This side picks itself, with Coen Hess tipped to move back to the second-row to start the season.

Luciano Leilua is unavailable due to an off-field incident, while Heilum Luki will return further into the season from an ACL injury.

The only debatable position is the utility bench spot, with Jake Granville likely to win the role.

Rookie fullback Tom Chester is also impressing up north and may come into contention in the similar role played by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow last season.

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Raiders (H), Broncos (A), Warriors (H), Titans (H), Bulldogs (A), Dolphins (H), Warriors (A), Knights (A), Sharks (A), Roosters (Suncorp, Magic Round).

First five round strength of schedule rating (1 toughest, 10 easiest)


2023 gains – Squad changes via NRL.com

Jack Gosiewski (Dragons), James Tamou (Wests Tigers), Gehamat Shibasaki (Mackay Cutters).

2023 losses

Connelly Lemuelu (Dolphins), Tom Gilbert (Dolphins), Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Dolphins), Ben Condon (Sea Eagles).

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Scott Drinkwater $746,600

Turbo and Teddy are a pretty popular round 1 fullback combination, but if you’re looking elsewhere then why not Drinky?

He rightly loses his dual FLB-5/8 positioning this season which is a shame, but with a 71 point average last season he’s shown he can match it with the elite of Supercoach at his best.

Despite belief he’s a rollercoaster Supercoach player, last season tells a bit of a different story.

He had five tonnes, with a top score of 119. He had one stinker, scoring 12 against Penrith in Penrith, but aside from that his lowest score was 36, hardly enough to consider him a rollercoaster.

So what does Drinky have that Teddy and Turbo don’t? The draw…

Not just the opening five rounds, but the Cowboys opening eight are outstanding, so there’s no reason why he can’t outscore the more popular pair.

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Valentine Holmes $724,600

Ah Val, he’s really polarised myself and many Supercoaches this pre-season.

If the Cowboys had a more difficult draw I’d happily avoid him at $724k based on a 69 point average last season.

Paying that amount of coin for a centre in round 1 seems mad to me, but kicking goals in a red-hot Cowboys outfit with a soft run, I just think I’m too scared not to own him.

The recent injury to Nicho Hynes may have freed up the funds to get him in, but he’s far from a lock.

Sure he had his highs last season, but he also had six scores of 41 or below, with a bottom score of 16.

A tough decision for many early on, that’s for sure.

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Reece Robson $678,200

Robson is a very fair play to start the year, however I believe the hooking position is stacked with better value buys early on.

I think Harry Grant is comfortably the number one player, so I’m happy to pay the extra $130k for his services.

While the likes of Brandon Smith, Soni Luke and Tanah Boyd appear better value buys.

However, the masses of options at hooker does put Robson in POD territory, and he does have decent upside.

He averaged 64 points in 75 minutes last season.

One concern is the Cowboys soft draw, and Jake Granville’s likely appearance on the bench.

With the Cowboys spending plenty of time in QLD early on, if they get out to decent leads does he get an early shower?

Maybe he’s done enough damage by that point to score well, but I’m steering clear for the time being.

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Jason Taumalalo $607,500

It’d take a brave Supercoach to write off Lolo, but it does appear his heights of the past may be beyond him.

He averaged between 70-78 from 2018-20, but has regressed to 58 and 55 the past two seasons.

We know how destructive he can be, but as he gets older and seemingly deals with constant niggling injuries, his minutes have decreased gradually.

This has also been a ploy of Todd Payton since taking over at the Cowboys.

I think he’ll stay around the 55 minute mark, especially with Reuben Cotter putting his hand up for more time, so not for me despite looking great in the pre-season.

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Jeremiah Nanai $659,400

If you want an early flyer with genuine upside, go for Jeremiah Nanai.

However, he’s not for me.

He’s a genuine star, but in his 63 point average last season he scored 17 tries!

His base of 38 for a 2RF is pretty poor, so he’s extremely attack reliant to score well.

With his ability he can certainly continue to score tries and put on big Supercoach scores, but I’ll look elsewhere.

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Reuben Cotter $623,400

Cotter has been hot on my radar all pre-season, so I was very excited in a recent interview that he declared his desire to play as many minutes as possible, even as much as 80.

While I don’t think 80 will happen, I do think he could play around the 65 mark.

He was solid with a 57 point average in 59 minutes last season, but he was also carrying injuries that limited his output in the back half of last season. He pumped out 54 in base!

Prior to injury, he averaged 64.9 primarily as a bench forward.

He missed the next six games, then returned in less time where he averaged 50.3 points.

While we don’t exactly rely on attacking stats from middle forwards, I do think he’s good enough to improve on his one try and no try-assists last season.

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Murray Taulagi $578,700

For anyone not wanting to pay up for Val, perhaps the flying Australian winger is an option?

Taulagi is one who is try reliant, but so are most wingers. Taulagi averaged 55 last season.

His 25 base wasn’t the best, while he failed to crack a tonne last season which was my concern.

If it wasn’t for the Cowboys draw I probably wouldn’t even include him in the write-up, but if the Cowboys do fire as expected he could be the big Supercoach beneficiary.

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Coen Hess $400,800

Starting on the edge, Hess has caught the attention of plenty this pre-season.

However his minutes and job security (as a big minute edge) aren’t great, especially with numerous players potentially returning early in the season.

He’s priced on a 38 point average from 39 minutes last season, and even that was as a middle forward where his PPM increased.

The season prior, he averaged just 40 points from 52 minutes.

A few years back now he went on a try-scoring spree on an edge, where he averaged 58 points in 73 minutes and I think that’s in the back of people’s minds.

I don’t think he’s the same damaging edge player as he was then, so I’m not keen.



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