Matt Trodden,, NRL.com
Every year the Dream Team pre-season is filled with conflicting opinions of gun players priced through the roof before a game has even been played.
Corey Parker, Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith have become the resident blue chip stocks on the Dream Team market, and 2013 is likely to be no different. Water-cooler talk will continue on this topic in the final week before season kick-off, but today we are investigating the big names.
Are they worth the investment?
Cameron Smith - HOK $533,200 (2012 Average: 67.77ppg)
PROS: The doyen of Dream Team hookers has always been Cameron Smith. Ticks every box scoring wise - a big work rate in defence, ball-playing skills out of dummy half, a pinpoint kicking game, a very low error rate and a sharp-shooting goal-kicker.
CONS: Being the Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos captain means that Smith will be playing a lot of football this season. Will miss Rd 15 (a non head-to-head round) with Origin duties, and is a chance to spend some time resting during this period.
Verdict: Barring injury, Smith is worth the $533,200, especially if you’re going to keep him for the long haul. He’s the prime captaincy target, and is amazingly projected to jump in price marginally over the opening rounds. A consistent stalwart who will deliver in the lead up to the finals.
Paul Gallen - 2RF/FRF $514,500 (2012 Average: 65.40)
PROS: The NRL’s pre-eminent workhorse, Gallen will deliver points on a consistent basis. Put simply, his runs, tackles, offloads and busts never stop. Has only finished below his starting price once in the past five seasons.
CONS: The Sharks' recruitment of Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington probably means Gallen will endure a few short stints on the bench, cutting into his game time. He has also developed some niggling injuries over the last 12 months, not that it’s really hindered his output when on the paddock.
Verdict: While he is someone that will deliver good scores on a consistent basis, his $514,500 price tag is probably too steep to start with. Will drop in price during the year, but following Origin, he could be a great value buy ahead of a potential finals run for the Sharks.
Corey Parker - 2RF $467,100 (2012 Average: 59.38)
PROS: An 80 minute, goal-kicking back-rower will always be seen as a great Dream Team player. Parker has one of the highest work-rates in attack and defence at the Broncos, with offloads and tackle busts to go alongside his hit-ups and tackles.
CONS: The arrival of Scott Prince is likely to throw a spanner in the works after the lively halfback took the reins of goal-kicking duties during the Broncos trials. Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn and David Stagg may also prevent him from playing 80 minutes consistently.
Verdict: While he will deliver some solid scores, 2013 could possibly be the year that Parker’s Dream Team star fades slightly. Parker is also in Origin contention, meaning the possibility of missed games and the likelihood of being rested.
Daly Cherry-Evans - HLF $451,400 (2012 Average: 57.38)
PROS: The main playmaker at Manly, Cherry-Evans will provide try assists, line-break assists and do the majority of kicking for the Sea Eagles.
CONS: The halfback is quite inconsistent in Dream Team terms. He is very capable of racking up a high score, but it can be sometimes followed by the occasional low figure return.
Verdict: He was a great cash cow on debut in 2011, but has probably remained overpriced since then and will come back to the field unless Manly bolt out of the gates.
Cooper Cronk - HLF $442,600 (2012 Average: 56.26)
PROS: The man at Melbourne, Cronk provides try assists, line break assists, another pinpoint kicking game (long and short) and does a decent amount of defence for a half. Imagine if he kicked goals too?
CONS: Could have points taken off him by Smith and Billy Slater, as has happened in the past. Gareth Widdop’s development and the return of Brett Finch also pose threats to Cronk’s dominance.
Verdict: Origin beckons again for Cronk, but there is no doubting he will provide great value in Dream Team this year with his price worth the return.
There you have it - the top five most expensive players for 2013. How many will you be investing in? Can you somehow squeeze them all into your squad? Are you starting the year with none of them?