Guess who’s back? That’s right, despite suggestions to the contrary... Lone Scout's rather useless, often self-indulgent column has NOT been axed (though NRL.com has received literally thousands of applications for my job).<br><br>Instead, I'd like to issue my most sincere apologies to all the addicts out there who pleaded for some last minute trade advice as deadline loomed on Friday... only to receive 'duck egg'.<br><br>You see, split rounds are not just tough, they're draining. Mentally exhausting... even for the professionals amongst us. <br><br>So after a horrendous Round 18 score, my confidence was shattered and I desperately needed some alone time. Scouting. At Origin III. <br><br>The good news is… I’m back, baby.<br><br>But enough Lone Scout gibber! It's time for fan gibber! Last week I issued the challenge to the NRL Dream Team universe... to unearth <b>NRL.com's biggest Dream Team addict.</b><br><br>(Boy, was that a mistake. The flood of emails left my brain hurting so much I would have taken a Tonie Carroll knee to the temple just to numb the pain.)<br><br>So.... drum roll.... I present to you the top five winning entries in the "I'm a Dream Team addict because..." award!<br><br><b>No.5 - The Underdog<br><br>I know I'm an addict because I've just upgraded my mobile phone deal just to check scores on the run AND my NRL hating G/F can name several of my Dream Team players.</b><br><br>I am contractually obliged to ask whether or not that is a Telstra mobile phone deal, Underdog?<br><br><b>No.4 - Peter<br><br>I am currently living in Japan and every Friday through Monday I am sitting in front of my computer with the sports radio on and also logged into my team to watch the live updates. I even listened to the Souths vs Panthers game (even though I don’t have anyone in my team from those teams) just to see if there could be anyone worth trading in for!!!<br><br>I also log into my team at least once a day to see what I could possibly do in the following weeks with trades, Captain/Vice-Captain, who I will face in the league for that week and the up and coming weeks and just to check in on my players to say 'hi'... hahaha!!! </b><br><br>When your players start answering back, Peter - then you know you have a problem.<br><br><b>No.3 - Luke<br><br>Not just me but all my mates in our league are dream team addicts - we watch every single game giving it to each other whenever a player makes a mistake that's in one of our teams. We regularly check scores on our phones if we can't get to a TV, even when we are out clubbing. As soon as Tuesday comes around, 12pm we are all on NRL.com looking at the results and seeing who has bragging rights for the week. <br><br>We have three years of playing against each other behind us and we get extremely competitive when we play each other, even when a mate buys the same player. With wireless internet we sit in front of the footy checking scores on all our teams whenever we can.<br><br>Three of us sit around at my mate Marty’s place and just debate all day about how stupid a trade was and who has the best team. </b><br><br>Yeah, who needs a girlfriend when you have a Dream Team!<br><br><b>No.2 - Adrian<br><br>Before I even bought a single player I spent more than three weeks combing the internet for 2008 NRL Statistics, compiled it all in an excel spreadsheet – right down to how many points each player would have scored and averaged under this year's scoring formula – as a result Jamie Soward has been anything but a surprise to me this year, I had him forecast to achieve an average of over 50 pts per game and figured that he’d do even better with Bennet guiding his game at the Dragons.</b><br><br>Totally unrelated question, Adrian... did you get picked on at school?<br><br><b>No.1 - Richard<br><br>I stay up late (NZ) watching the games, checking the live stats online to see if my players get their average. Then rush home after work on Tuesday to check the final scores, and when my kids hear me yell, "YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH!" and they say 'what’s the matter daddy', that’s when you know you are an addict.<br><br>Also, I was one of the (losers) people who saved all the info from last year stats etc. Printed it out so I could make good decisions this year about the start of the season (it was like 20 pages of info).<br><br>And one more... You know you are addict when you get your wife to join your league, help her with her team with trades, until you play her in the league - then tell her she's on her own. And it’s frosty between us for a week.<br><br>Then she beats my team. LOL- that is addicted!!! </b><br><br>Printing out stats, losing to your wife or living in New Zealand... I honestly can't decide which is more embarrassing. <br><br>I'd also like to give a 'honourable mention' to James.<br><br><b>James writes: </b><br><br>I know I’m an addict because I was seriously annoyed when the 'Leagues' page had an error on Friday night and I couldn't check my live score updates!<br><br>I hear you, brother. I hear you.<br><br>Now, addicts, it's on to the hard stuff.<br><br><b>Rob writes:</b><br><br><b>Please use your expert knowledge to reassure me that Darryl Millard will not sit out the rest of the season due to the return of that over-rated show pony Jamal Idris. I know I am flying on a wing and prayer with no trades left, but this is what fate has left me and given the team I have, I thought as long as 17/18 players remain injury free, I have as good a chance as anyone. What do u think? I sit in 608th. Would u put me into the miracle class yet? Is there a phone no. for Trades Anonymous?</b><br><br>Rob, I'd love to see you tell Idris he's an over-rated show pony to his face. Actually, that might be a clever way to get Millard back on the paddock... get big Jamal arrested for assault!<br><br>Alas, that may be the only option you have left. I tend to think Morris and Idris are likely to keep their centre pairing... meaning old mate Millard could be ‘goneski’. Of course Morris may be shuffled out to the wing but I'm not liking your chances. <br><br>As for Trades Anonymous... we meet each Thursday at 7pm. Bring snacks and a calculator.<br><br><b>ywon117 writes:<br><br>I have $18000 left in my salary cap and would like to add Farah to my line-up. One of the options I'm thinking is to trade Pritchard out for a $70k base player and trade Parker for Farah cause Parker isn't performing as well. But, I'm also willing to take a punt by trading Campese for Foran or Porter for Moltzen (I already have Mortimer and Soward).</b><br><br>Well, ywon117 (if that is your real name), I think your Parker/Farah trade is on the money. Certainly worth it. Corey Parker has gone off the boil of late, not co-incidentally around the same time he lost the goal-kicking at the Broncos. It may also have something to do with the fact the Broncos are playing like absolute busted's.<br><br>If you need to free up more cash for a last minute run at another big name forward... Porter for Moltzen could be the way to go. You already have Soward so Porter won't ever get a start... and with Barrett playing he's unlikely to go above 40 too often. Otherwise, save even more by buying Jarrod Sammut at $86,800. Hopefully, you'll never need to use your spare halfback anyway.<br><br><b>Ethan writes:<br><br>I bought young Mortimer for the great Lockyer. I know why you have recommended him... averaging 40 and scoring 50 odd two weeks ago. But this week he did almost no kicking (got 1 point for kick meters). I was wondering if Luke Burt and Jeff Robson will keep doing ALL the kicking and taking valuable points away from Mortimer?</b><br><br>You know how they say "hindsight is 20/20"? Well, having had Round 19 to ponder the answer to your question... my answer is no! He posted 16 kick-metre points against Melbourne last night. Keep the faith, my son.<br><br><b>Jeffrey writes:<br><br>I am looking to upgrade my half back by replacing either Mortimer or Luke Walsh with Soward. Who do you think will perform better coming to the pressure end of the season?</b><br><br>Tough one. Personally I'd get rid of Walsh. His average has dropped off recently - he certainly has gone near replicating that 57 from Round 13. The Eels are starting to show some ticker and could cause some headaches for genuine contenders... roll of the dice, but I'd say ditch Walsh.<br><br><b>Joseph writes:<br><br>I have $98,500 in the bank and 5 trades left. I am roughly getting about 600-650 each week; however the guys in front of me are usually in the 650-700 range.<br><br>I am considering bringing in Michael Luck to boost my squad (however I will have to use 2 trades, one being PJ Marsh for a 'Neville' front rower - max $86,500; and the second being Atelea Vea for Luck in the back row).<br><br>My question - is it worth getting Michael Luck - averaging about 50 (with a max score of 80); or getting someone like Corey Parker - averaging 43 (whose max score is 58) - as I can get Parker with a straight swap (i.e. bye bye Vea) because I wouldn't have to free up the additional cash using the PJ Marsh trade.</b><br><br>Michael Luck is an interesting one, Joseph. His average of 50 has been artificially inflated by his 80 in Round 7... but he's been losing value ever since. Look - he's a tackler, so he's consistent... but while the Warriors continue to play like the Under 8's team I coached last season... then he'll struggle to crack 50 consistently.<br><br>As for Parker - see my comments to ywon117.<br><br>If you can afford the extra cash to buy Stagg or Hindmarsh - do it. If you can't, Luck is a better option than Parker.<br><br><b>Vivian writes:<br><br>I read your column every week however I have a dilemma and I would like your opinion on who would make a better long term option in the centre/wing postion out of Guy Williams, Ben Pomeroy or Yileen Gordon. </b><br><br>Guy Williams... well, I've previously warned that he could be just another product of Ivan Henjak's second-row turnstile... BUT, he seems to be hanging around and is a genuine Dream Team centre playing in the forwards, and they're hard to find.<br><br>Ben Pomeroy... didn't he have a blinder against Manly!? 35 points... and two awesome tries. But I wouldn't go using that game as a yardstick. He's not an exciting, creative centre... and he's not going to rack up 30 tackles in the second row. Let's be honest, he's a safe, certain starter... and that's about as much as I'll wrap him. <br><br>Yileen Gordon... I don't rate him. He scored 15 last week and that can happen when you’re picking bench players. Steer clear.<br><br><b>Paul writes:<br><br>Can you tell me how the finals go please, is it the same as the series ie: 1 plays 8, 2 plays 7 and so on and then follow same method as NRL. It may seem silly but there is nothing written about it anywhere.</b><br><br>No such thing as a silly question, Paul. In short, yes. McIntyre system, same as the NRL.<br><b><br>The Underdogs writes:<br><br>I've currently got 3 trades left (I know, I know. Some of it was bad luck through injuries though) and I was hoping to do my final planned trade this week so that I have 2 up my sleeve. I didn't count on Nate Myles losing control of his bowels in a hotel hallway. <br><br>I have $184,000 in the bank.<br><br>My planned trade was to swap Blair for C. Smith after Origin (leaving me with $37,000) and I still feel pretty happy about that because Blair has been doing nothing lately (and his price has reflected this)<br><br>My dilemma lies in my 2RF trade. <br><br>I think I might need to trade Myles if I wish to truly challenge my opponent this week. I was thinking Tupou (because I can't afford both D. Johnson AND C. Smith) but I would love to hear your advice (this leaves me with $27,000 for my last trade).<br><br>The other thing I was wondering was how much should I bother with the 8? It's an uphill battle for me but my view is that it's better to make the 8 and possibly lose the 1st final than come 9th and possibly win the 'losers' finals. I'm curious where you stand with this.</b><br><br>First things first (and I hope the NRL.com producer isn't reading this)... who really wants to be the 'best loser' in their league? Live up to your name and go for gold, Underdog!<br><br>Now, I like your Cam Smith trade. It's good you've left it late to prevent wasting him during the Origin period - and he is Dream Team bread and butter.<br><br>As for Tupou. Well, I'll give myself an uppercut here. I tipped him last week... and he just had to go and pull a hammy, didn't he? I'm yet to receive an official injury report... but hold off trading him in for the short term. Should he look like missing serious time, take a look at Michael Hodgson from the Bulldogs. He's cheaper... and is flying under the radar despite some strong recent form. (Keep in mind Ben Hannant's return may impact on this slightly).<br><br>Otherwise, dump Myles (poor choice of words?) for a ‘Neville’ and save the cash. Then you'll have one crucial trade up your sleeve and a nice lump of cash when the finals arrive.<br><br>Well, that'll do for today, Dream Teamers.<br><br>I'll be back on Friday for my 'Round 20 late mail'.<br><br><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">Click here to shoot me a question of your own.</a><br><br>Scouts honour, <br>Lone Scout<br>
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