Matt Trodden, NRL.com
After a long and hard season we’re finally at Round 26. For the remaining head-to-head players it’s Grand Final week, while the overall players are looking to make one final leap at the title.
Each Wednesday, we take a look at the teams named and give you the rundown on what this means for the wonderful world of Dream Team.
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Broncos v Bulldogs - Suncorp Stadium 7:45pm 5/9/13
The Broncos unchanged lineup won’t have much of a Dream Team impact this week, particularly since they’re only playing for pride against the Bulldogs. Corey Parker ($495,000) is a must-have if you want to win your head-to-head or overall league, while Andrew McCullough ($427,300) could be a good point of difference if you’re looking to snatch a win in your head-to-head game.
Sam Kasiano ($238,500) is back for the Bulldogs, but probably isn’t worth bringing in this week as Tolman and Graham will take up the big minutes in the team. Tony Williams ($222,500) sprung to life last week, but is a high-risk, high-reward player at this time of year. Mitch Brown ($200,200) has become a very reliable player on the right wing as well, with tries and linebreaks consistently.
Rabbitohs v Roosters - ANZ Stadium 7:45pm 6/9/13
An unchanged squad at the Rabbitohs is good Dream Team news, with plenty of reliable options in their side. While Sam ($388,600) is the biggest weapon, any of the other three have started pushing out regular scores in the 30s. Issac Luke ($392,600) is another potential point of difference for a head-to-head clash, with plenty of tackle breaks to inflate his score.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ($250,700) will be missing for the Roosters this weekend, and the resulting backline shift does have Dream Team consequences. Mitch Aubusson ($245,300) moves to the centres making him an undesirable recruit, while Aidan Guerra ($281,700) can be a great scorer starting in the second row alongside a must-have in Sonny-Bill Williams ($371,800).
Dragons v Warriors - Mt Smart Stadium 3:00pm 7/9/13
St George Illawarra have stuck with the same squad as last week, but it won’t have much influence on your Dream Team. Josh Drinkwater ($101,600) remains at basement price despite playing his third game on Monday night, while another common NPR is Charly Runciman ($138,200), who will again start in the centres.
The Warriors welcome Dane Nielsen ($150,300) back into their side, but it will make Jerome Ropati ($183,100) a much less attractive option. The Beast Manu Vatuvei ($224.900) had a massive game last week, scoring 92, however that won’t be a regular thing particularly away from home. Shaun Johnson ($430,900) scored 75 to continue his top form, while Elijah Taylor ($345,900) keeps pumping out solid scores each week.
Storm v Titans - AAMI Park 5:30pm 7/9/13
Another unchanged team for the Storm means not too much action on the Dream Team front. A tough loss to the Sea Eagles last week saw plenty of players struggle to score, with skipper Cameron Smith ($511,800) the top man with just 45. Tim Glasby ($101,600) is again on an extended bench but would be unlikely to play unless injury strikes. Billy Slater ($358,300) often saves some of his best for the Titans, so expect him to score well this week.
The Titans unchanged side from Round 25 is unlikely to have any extra Dream Team ramifications, particularly with Aidan Sezer ($394,000) in top form and Albert Kelly ($286,000) tapering off. Once again Ryan James ($337,600) has been named in the starting lineup, while Dave Taylor ($263,700) may provide a bit of value from the bench. No David Mead ($277,900) this week again, with Steve Michaels ($105,000) on the wing.
Cowboys v Tigers - 1300SMILES Stadium 7:30pm 7/9/13
One big change for the Cowboys this week, with Scott Bolton ($204,400) suddenly becoming valuable as a starting front rower. Gavin Cooper’s ($381,400) X-factor was underlined last Sunday as well, with 80 including two tries, but Ashton Sims ($192,800) should probably be avoided despite coming onto the bench.
The Tigers have provided a bench option for plenty of trade poor coaches in grand final week with Suaso Sue ($207,000) back from injury on the bench. He pushes Matt Bell ($217,900) to 18th man, but Curtis Sironen ($195,800) retains his starting spot in the second row, and showed some promising signs for his future in the forwards by scoring 35 last week. Robbie Farah ($442,100) will play his second game back at hooker, while Benji Marshall ($248,400) could deliver big in his last ever game for the Tigers.
Sea Eagles v Panthers - Brookvale Oval 2:00pm 8/9/13
The Sea Eagles changes have a significant Dream Team impact this week, most importantly the inclusion of Peta Hiku ($217,300) at fullback, with Brett Stewart ($205,100) out injured. Tom Symonds ($174,900) finds himself on the wing, which isn’t great news for his 4,911 owners, while David Gower ($127,700) could be a vital NPR with a starting second row spot. Those who replaced Anthony Watmough ($278,300) with Jamie Buhrer ($252,100) will be significantly disappointed after he was ruled out with injury himself.
Good news for Lewis Brown ($200,400) owners with the Panthers’ team this week, moving into the second row to accommodate the return of Brad Tighe ($208,300) in the centres. Tim Grant ($294,400) is out again and his replacement in the front row Nigel Plum ($317,300) could score big with more minutes in the centre of the park.
Knights v Eels - Parramatta Stadium 3:00pm 8/9/13
Kurt Gidley’s ($306,900) season-ending injury is the big change at the Knights, and it opens up the point scoring ability of Tyrone Roberts ($179,400) and Danny Buderus ($193,800) as it looks as though they’ll be playing 80 minutes. Jeremy Smith ($310,400) returning at lock is a big blow to Alex McKinnon ($237,600), pushing him back to the bench and into the rotation on the fringes.
Jarryd Hayne ($291,900) hasn’t been named for the Eels, although his replacement at fullback Ken Sio ($107,800) isn’t much of a Dream Team option. Reni Maitua’s ($281,600) move to five-eighth only saw him score 26 in a win last week, so it’s probably best to avoid him, but Joseph Paulo ($293,700) spent a long time on the field and played as an extra five-eighth, scoring 58 and becoming the first choice goalkicker, so he could be a point of difference.
Raiders v Sharks - Canberra Stadium 7:00pm 2/9/13
Again the changes are rung in by the Raiders, and they’ll have a big Dream Team impact with Anthony Milford ($370,600) back at fullback where he started his scoring blitz, while Joel Thompson ($248,700) moves to the second row where he’ll get more defensive work and more chances with the ball in hand. Mitch Cornish ($101,600) makes his debut if you’re keen to punt on a youngster, while Paul Vaughan ($206,400) won’t be able to reproduce his 40 point effort from the bench.
Big moves at the Sharks with three back-rowers missing, but Todd Carney ($313,500) is back at five-eighth. Paul Gallen ($473,200), Wade Graham ($253,800) and Jayson Bukuya ($234,100) are all missing, but it makes Chris Heighington ($265,900) a very good option and Tyrone Peachey ($210,900) a possible wildcard choice.