Lone Scout: Analysing the motivation factor

Have you seen our Toyota Dream Team Panel Show? Check out this week's edition featuring Brad Fittler, John Gibbs, David Middleton and Lone Scout.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? How often have you made a decision (or not made a decision) this season, only to rue it later? Plenty of you have vented your frustrations this year on Facebook, and a few of my mates are still niggling me about one thing or another.

I had to laugh at my buddy who has been singing the praises of Michael Ennis all year. Just like me, he expected Ennis to be a massive player this season, back when he was expected to be saddled with the goal-kicking duties in a side that appeared like it would be a front-runner. While most Dream Teamers (myself included!) had kicked Ennis to the curb a long time ago, my mate kept holding on, hoping against hope he would come good and score high numbers.

Finally, last week he decided it was over; it was time to take the gut punch and switch him for another hooker. And wouldn’t you know it? Ennis pumps out his best score of the year with 50 against the Roosters!

Maybe I could have helped him out by letting him know the Roosters have conceded the most tries from dummy-half in the NRL (with 10) and have trouble containing clever dummy-half play. Oh well… sorry pal!

There are countless stories like this out there: guys injured after you trade them in, or who lose their Dream Team mojo.

In fact, I wouldn’t mind a list of your biggest horror stories on Facebook. Did you set up for a big trade over several weeks only to get burned? Did you set up your ‘perfect’ team, exhaust all your trades and then get rocked by injury? What’s your sob story? The best one might be rewarded with a pick-me-up from your friendly Lone Scout in the form of some NRL match tickets! You can post your responses here.

Now, moving on. You really should have consolidated your side by now. Most of you are on minimal trades left, if any at all, but those of you who have a few might want to make the last-minute tweaks, or save for potential injury. One of the burning issues is whether or not you want players in teams who are in semi-finals contention. Does it matter if you are banking on Melbourne, North Queensland or Cronulla players right now? Cameron Smith has managed to continue his high-scoring, despite the fact the Storm are just making up the numbers… and Paul Gallen is still right up there as well. Will their numbers drop as they get more fatigued and start thinking about the end-of-season trip?

Just using ‘Gal’ as an example, I had a quick look at his stats for the last two rounds of 2009. He ran for more than 250 metres in both games and made tonnes of tackles and offloads, so there appears to be no need to jump off his “train”.

Other Sharks, like the props Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden, also kept their workloads up at the end of an unsuccessful 2009. I guess it comes down to guessing the individual’s core character. Gallen is a proud player who is unlikely to dip in form… Smith is the same – but others might not hold their best. Will the talk of their futures upset the likes of Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk? If Terry Campese’s Raiders or Kurt Gidley’s Knights fall out of contention in the coming weeks, will their contributions falter?

And what of the Bulldogs? David Stagg is already losing minutes and points, Andrew Ryan is wondering what might happen in his future, Josh Morris doesn’t look likely for the Four Nations, Ben Hannant might be wondering about his move home… Do we abandon the Dogs?

On the other side of the coin you need to be aware that players generally score well when they defend a lot, whereas teams scoring a lot of points doesn’t always translate to big numbers for some players.

The Sea Eagles and Raiders were the huge winners last week but just two players were in the top 20 Dream Team scorers in Matt Ballin (14th) and Josh McCrone (13th). Only 772 Dream Teams have McCrone in them.
 
At the end of the day I think you need to trust your players. First grade stars all have plenty of pride and they want to be at their best each time they take the park. It’s true they stumble on some days, like the Knights did against the Raiders, but in their core they are professional athletes who have a competitive drive.

The Sharks have been poor in the last two weeks, but at the end of the day it just means more tackling – and tackles bring points!

Anyway, in the spirit of the first part of this column, I’m going to predict a few big scorers this week – then after the round a few more of you might have sob stories!

An easy one first up: Nathan Hindmarsh will have a massive game and will hit 50+ easy against the Bulldogs.

South Sydney’s Sam Burgess has moved up to prop this week and with the Bunnies needing a massive performance against the Warriors, I’m going to nominate him as the man to shine.

On the back of his 35 points against the Cowboys, Lote Tuqiri will again go above his average against Manly. The two sides love attacking to the left sideline and this will happen often in this match. With this in mind, don’t be surprised if perennial low scorer Michael Robertson also betters his average 11! And Steve Matai could be looking at a 30+.

And as for Gallen? History shows that teams aim up in their first match under a new coach. I'd be suprised to see him post below 50 against the Raiders.

Enjoy guys! May the best sob story win!