Squad analysis + starting 17: Dragons

The Dragons boast plenty of SuperCoach potential, can they deliver on it in 2020?


We’re closing in on the NRL season opener, and more importantly for SuperCoaches, the all-important first edition of team list Tuesday.

Leading into the season we’ll take a look at every club’s predicted 17 to start the year, providing SuperCoach analysis on every single player as well as a rating for their round 1 buy credentials.

Here’s how we think St George Illawarra will line up and whether or not it’s worth investing in their squad to kick-off the season.

Click on the player to reveal their analysis and round 1 buy rating.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations.

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Billy Brittain $242,600 || HOK || Rd 1 rating: 2/10

Brittain impressed in the Charity Shield, but unless Issac Luke goes down very early in the season, he’s unlikely to get enough minutes to warrant consideration. He played two games for the Rabbitohs in 2019, averaging 44PPG in 43MPG, so the scoring potential is evident if given extended game time.

Trent Merrin $408,000 || 2RF-FRF || Rd 1 rating: 5/10*

Merrin may well start at lock in Round 1, and if he does, he’s worth consideration.

It was only a few years back in 2016 that Merrin was the go-to man in SuperCoach, averaging a ridiculous 74PPG. In the four seasons prior, he produced averages of: 61, 69, 76 and 70PPG. Merrin’s most recent NRL seasons in 2017-18 with Penrith saw a big drop in SuperCoach output. He averaged a respectable 58PPG in 2017, then just 49PPG in 2018.

Notably though, his PPM remained solid, it was the drop in minutes that primarily brought about his downfall. In 2018 his minutes dropped to just 44MPG, while he maintained an impressive output of 1.12PPM. Basically, if he’s given 60+ minutes he could be at a bargain price, but we won’t know until we’ve seen McGregor use his forwards in Round 1. FULL PLAYER PROFILE

Blake Lawrie $442,100 || FRF || Rd 1 rating: 2/10 

The Blockbuster Lawrie averaged 48PPG in 44MPG at an impressive output of 1.09PPM in 2019. If he does start at lock he’ll warrant some consideration, but with Merrin, Host and Fuimaono lurking he probably won’t see any considerable increase in game time from last season.

Tyrell Fuimaono $201,000 || 2RF-CTW || Rd 1 rating: 3/10

The club hopper burst into Round 1 contention following a blistering pre-season with the Dragons. Like all the forwards around him, Fuimaono will struggle to see significant minutes, but at just $201k he may not need many to earn some coin. His versatility is also key, with the ability to play in the middle, edge or even at centre. His output isn’t great, having a PPM of just 0.45, 0.44 and 0.6 in the past three years in fairly limited game time. As a result, he’s probably not a genuine option in Round 1, but monitor minutes carefully and jump on if he sees time on the park.

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

Zac Lomax

$324,600 || FLB-CTW || Rd 1 rating: 8/10

A recent six-year deal for Lomax at the Dragons shows they’re investing their future in the young fullback. The show of faith also suggests he should get a lengthy stint at fullback, so his job security in the No.1 looks solid. Lomax played on the wing, centre and came off the bench last year for an average of just 55MPG, so the value is there for all to see.

He played one game at fullback for 40 points, and remarkably he had 44 in base stats in the outing. He’s locked in the goal-kicking duties and should make significant coin while providing a useful point-scoring option at CTW early in the season.

Jordan Pereira

$468,100 || CTW || Rd 1 rating: 3/10 

In 11 games last season Pereira averaged a very respectable 50PPG, scoring five tries in the process. He has a reasonable base of 27BPG, so there is some merit in his scoring. Awkwardly priced, and with job security an issue, he’s an avoid early on. He’ll need the Red V to fire to see his buy credentials enhance throughout the year.

Jason Saab

$271,100 || CTW || Rd 1 rating: 8/10

This spot could easily fall to Mikaele Ravalawa who started on the wing in the Charity Shield ahead of Saab. However, we’re so void of cheapies this year that we’ll remain positive and suggest the rookie winger gets the start. He played three games last season for an average of 42PPG.

He scored three tries in his three games, with a base of just 16BPG, so that’s a major concern. Unfortunately, his limited games last season and strong showings has him well above basement price, but with so few cheapies on offer it’s a price we’ll likely have to pay.

Euan Aitken

$457,300 || CTW || Rd 1 rating: 3/10 

Not long ago, Aitken was one of the safest SuperCoach options on the market, but his career has hit a significant flat spot in the past 18 months. He averaged 49PPG last season and hadn’t averaged below 50PPG in the four years prior. His base remained at an outstanding 32BPG in 2019.

On pedigree alone, he could well come into contention at some stage throughout the season, but he’ll need to show a serious form reversal to justify the interest. His pre-season form suggests his job security is fragile at best.

Tim Lafai

$391,700 || CTW || Rd 1 rating: 4/10

There’s one, and only one factor peaking any interest in Lafai, contract year! The centre is off-contract at the end of the year, and historically we’ve seen certain players thrive as they chase a new deal. In 2014 and 2017, when coming off contract he averaged 61 and 65PPG respectively.

It appears to be the year of the mid-ranger, so Lafai could be a sneaky option. That being said, you’d have to be fairly confident in Lafai and the club themselves finding some serious form to justify the gamble.

Corey Norman

$491,600 || 5-8/FLB || Rd 1 rating: 2/10

In his past four seasons, Norman has averaged a respectable 53, 48, 53 and 55PPG. He’s always lingered as a POD option, but has lacked the consistency to match it with the elite 5/8-FLB options in SuperCoach. He’s always had the ability to go large, but back-to-back scores of 19 and 17 early last season also indicate the risk involved in his output. He also looked unflattering throughout the pre-season, pass.

Ben Hunt

$553,600 || HFB || Rd 1 rating: 4/10

Hunt continually flies under the radar in SuperCoach, having averaged 60PPG last season. In the four prior, he averaged 51, 58, 56 and 64PPG. His base of 24BPG is okay for a halfback, and he can go large as evident in his three tons and a 99 in 2019.

While there’s too much risk in the purchase until we see the Dragons hit their straps, he certainly shouldn’t be discarded completely as a POD throughout the year.

Paul Vaughan

$556,400 || FRF || Rd 1 rating: 6/10

With everyone seeking a partner for Payne Haas, Vaughan makes a compelling case as a POD at a reasonable price. He averaged 60PPG in 2019 with a monster base of 53BPG. He did average a career high minutes of 52MPG, so there’s a suggestion he may not have many more to play.

However, James Graham is expected to reduce his minutes significantly, so Vaughan could well be a beneficiary. The exciting element to Vaughan is that he has serious upside for a front-rower. Back in 2017, on the back of a try-scoring spree, he averaged 68PPG at a ridiculous output of 1.43PPM. Interesting…

Issac Luke

$449,900 || HOK || Rd 1 rating: 3/10

Seemingly dead and buried in the NRL, Luke now looks to be locked in as the starting hooker in Round 1 following the injury to Cameron McInnes. Luke averaged 48PPG in 56MPG at the Warriors last season, and he’ll likely play a similar role until McInnes returns from injury. In the twilight of his career, the only marginal way you’d consider the veteran is if he was named as the sole hooker in the side for the season opener.

James Graham

$473,000 || FRF || Rd 1 rating: 1/10 

Graham is expected to play fewer minutes than 2019 and isn’t worth consideration.

Tyson Frizell

$435,500 || 2RF || Rd 1 rating: 4/10

Frizell played eight games at lock last season and as a result produced one of his poorest averages in years with 47PPG in 57MPG. There’s actually some value in Friz, should he play on an edge as expected with big minutes. In 2018 he averaged 56PPG in 70MPG. Regardless, there’s better 2RF options available for another $100k that are worth the additional investment.

Tariq Sims

$496,500 || 2RF || Rd 1 rating: 3/10

Sims has always been okay in SuperCoach without ever really coming close to the elite 2RF options. He averaged 53PPG in 78MPG in 2019, so it’s hard to see him increasing on those numbers this season barring a bag full of tries. Pass.

Jacob Host

$358,100 || 2RF || Rd 1 rating: 3/10

The starting lock role is up for grabs in Round 1, with Host vying for the spot alongside Merrin and Lawrie. All have reasonable buy credentials if given the start, however the depth in the position makes it a risky investment as any could drop to the bench on any given week.

Reduced minutes for Graham should see an increase of sorts for all three men. Host averaged 39PPG in 57MPG in 2019, fairly unappealing numbers. He’s an avoid unless he finds himself playing an 80-minute role.

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