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Dream Team checklist: Round one

Adrian McMurray, NRL.com Thu, Mar 07, 2013 - 9:15 AM

Don't roll the dice with Terry Campese. Copyright: NRL Photos

When selecting your Dream Team during the pre-season, there's a good chance you may have put together a handy looking squad, but ignored or simply forgotten a number of key injuries and suspensions.

The following players are the ones you probably should steer clear of come round one, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't come into calculations once they return to the field or full fitness.

Ben Barba | WFB | $398,900
There's no denying that Barba is quickly joining the DT elite, with 2013 shaping to be a continuation of his stellar 2012. But with an indefinite return time and starting at nearly $400,000, it's simply too much of your salary cap to be sitting on the pine. Upon his return to the field however, he's one to strongly consider, perhaps after a few games. 

Josh Dugan | WFB/HLF | $365,000
A lip infection saw Dugan spend some time in hospital earlier this week. Despite not being named, he is still a chance of making the round one team if fit. Reece Robinson ($272,900) starts at fullback, but would shift to the wing if Dugan plays, bumping Sandor Earl ($216,700) or Edrick Lee ($157,800) out of the side.  If Dugan does indeed make the team list come Sunday, he might be worth bringing in.

Jarrod Croker | CTR | $324,500
Had minor knee surgery and like Dugan, could be a late inclusion on Sunday. The rolling lockout is already proving to be a handy addition to DT this season. Jack Wighton ($215,400) is likely to be the one to miss if he makes the round one side.

James Graham | FRF | $361,600
Graham had a phenomenal first year in the NRL, posting some big scores from the bench. But a long-term suspension means we won't see the England international on the field until at least round nine. But with his huge scoring potential, a well-rested workhorse prop with an extended pre-season under his belt might not be such a bad addition to your squad. 

Sonny Bill Williams | 2RF | $322,500
Has had an injury concern but seems to be tracking well at his new club. Will start from the bench against the Rabbitohs, so it could be best to avoid him for the first few rounds - his price might drop and he'll work his way into the starting side.

Kevin Proctor | 2RF | $263,600
A knee injury in a trial against the Raiders means that Proctor will be out for around the first month of the season. The good news from a DT perspective? Rookie Tohu Harris ($116,100) will start the year in the back row. After an impressive showing in the World Club Challenge, Harris is poised to make a massive impact and provide great value.

Tautau Moga | CTR | $206,800
Last year's must-have prospect, Moga has unfortunately torn his ACL and is pushing to return mid-season. Despite spending some time on the wing in 2012, he is only available as a centre, which certainly lessens his appeal from a DT perspective but is great news for owners of cheap rookie Daniel Tupou ($135,800).

Aaron Woods | FRF | $383,500
Enjoyed a breakout season in 2012 and with big minutes every week, his DT scores went through the roof. For many, he is a must-have in the front row, but an ongoing knee complaint means he is likely to miss the Wests Tigers' opening clash with the Knights (named on an extended bench). From there, it is anyone's guess as to when he returns, but you'd be best served investing elsewhere this week at least - perhaps rookie Jack Buchanan ($101,600) who is starting at prop might be worth a look.

Sam Kasiano | FRF | $246,900
Another prop who exploded in 2012, Kasiano is set to miss the first few rounds of the season. Martin Taupau ($136,400) starts in his place, with David Klemmer ($101,600) and Dale Finucane ($150,200) on the bench. Be wary of selecting two of the above players, as it's likely Kasiano will slot straight back into the starting side when fit. 

Joseph 'BJ' Leilua | CTR/WFB | $250,900
A fresh start at a new club is often a sign of an improved DT output, so when it was announced that Leilua would be heading to the Hunter region, many DT coaches were intrigued. Hasn't produced monstrous scores in the past, but his dual position status could make him a unique pick. Won't be available for round one, and beyond that it's still unclear when he'll be back. One to keep an eye on.

Terry Campese | HLF | $262,000
Many DT coaches (myself included) rolled the dice with Campese last season, and the gamble was looking to pay off until round seven when he re-injured his knee against the Broncos. He won't be available this week, but a round three return against the Dragons at Canberra Stadium is looking likely. Will you risk him again? If he can return to anywhere near his best, there are points on offer. 

Michael Morgan | HLF | $232,100
A broken jaw means Morgan will miss the first few rounds of the season. After a strong showing towards the backend of 2012, it would appear he was in the running to start the year alongside Johnathan Thurston ($384,400) in the halves. Instead Ray Thompson ($231,200) starts the year at halfback, and with Rob Lui ($132,200) waiting in the wings, it remains to be seen whether Morgan will return to the starting side when fit. Best to avoid for now.

Glenn Stewart | 2RF | $305,100
A creative back-rower is always a good option for your DT, and Stewart would have been a solid prospect had he been fit. Gets through plenty of work and sets up his outside men - there's plenty to like. But an expected return date of roughly round six, and a likely Origin appearance not long after, reduces his appeal somewhat.

Sisa Waqa | WFB | $268,400
A hand injury means Waqa will be sidelined until approximately round eight. While he may have been a potential point of difference at the back, Mahe Fonua ($127,700) is the man to take over in his absence. If you're determined to have a Storm winger in your side, start with Fonua, and depending on his performances, you could be looking at a straight swap to Waqa upon his return.

Danny Buderus | HOK | $272,900
Returned to the NRL in a big way in 2012, with an average of 34.68. Off-season back surgery means he'll miss the first few rounds of the season, so ensure you've locked in another hooker for the first month of the competition at the very least. Travis Waddell ($194,800) isn't looking like a long-term prospect when both Buderus and Matt Hilder (injured) return.

Lote Tuqiri | WFB | $147,500
At his best, he's one of the most dangerous wingers in the competition. But a persistent arm injury has meant the experienced winger will miss a good portion of the season. Would have been an attractive prospect at that price, but until he returns to the field, there are better options elsewhere.

Visit the NRL Casualty Ward - for a full list of injury/suspensions details.