Lone Scout, NRL.com
The NRL season is just a month away, Holden NRL Fantasy is up and running, and thousands of budding coaches are already fine-tuning their squads ahead of the new season.
One key factor in picking your starting Fantasy squad is keeping an eye on dual position players. These utility men can be crucial to your team's success – this year more than ever. Here's why.
Having players who can cover two positions is handy for NRL coaches, and it's the same for Fantasy coaches as well. This is obvious as soon as you start picking your squad. Want Anthony Milford, but have an eye on three other star fullbacks? Put Milford in your halves. Want cash cow Nathan Peats in your team, but prefer to pick two star hookers? Put Peats into your second row.
This year Fantasy itself will be flexible when it comes to dual position players. In previous seasons each player's position was locked in at the start of the season, but this year if a player is listed in one position but begins to regularly play in another, they may be made available in that second position in Fantasy. So keep a close eye on those halfbacks who are moved into dummy-half and centres who get used on the wing this season.
2. Injury cover
One simple way to boost your squad's depth is to pick dual position players in matching positions. For instance, by having Milford in your halves and Jarryd Hayne (another dual fullback/half) at winger/fullback, if one of the two gets injured you can switch the other into his place. Likewise, having a few dual front-row/second-row players in your pack (like Paul Gallen, Sam Burgess, Trent Merrin, etc) should give you cover in case any of those players are sidelined.
This is particularly helpful if you've got decent cover in one position but not the other, and in the middle part of the season when all clubs are affected by the bye schedule. Cheap dual-position players are equally useful – even if you don't plan of playing them in your starting squad, they can be switched with stronger dual position players to ensure your team is close to full strength at all times.
3. Save trades
This is where dual position players will become really crucial this season. For the first time, Fantasy coaches are now allowed to make unlimited positional changes during a trade. What that means is that you can trade a player out, reshuffle your squad as much as you like, then trade a new player in in an entirely different position.
Here's an example. Say it's time to trade out one of your cash cow winger/fullbacks, but you want to strengthen your squad in the front row. If you had a few dual position players (like Will Hopoate, Kyle Stanley, Feleti Mateo and Trent Merrin) in your squad, you could do the following:
- select your winger/fullback to trade out and then move Will Hopoate (dual CTR & WFB) from centre to wing/fullback;
- switch Kyle Stanley (dual CTR & HLF) from your halves to your centres;
- switch Feleti Mateo (dual 2RF & HLF) from the second row to the halves;
- switch Trent Merrin (dual FRF & 2RF) from the front row to the second row;
- and then trade in a front rower.
In previous years trading out a winger and trading in a prop would use two of your allocated 34 trades, but now – if you've got a few utility players – you can do it in one move. As veteran fantasy coaches will know, saving an extra trade here and there can be crucial in the late part of the season.
If you're now starting to think about picking a few more dual position players in your squad, here are a few of the best for each position.
Front row/Second row