Dream Team: Round one blowout

I had an insight into the world of coaches Matt Elliott and Shane Flanagan this week. The three of us sent our teams into battle with high hopes in the NRL’s opening round and all three of us copped a hammering.

Luckily for me my nightmare was confined to the fantasy world of Toyota Dream Team but like the Panthers’ and Sharks’ mentors, I will have to pick myself up, dust myself off and get ready for Round 2 this weekend.

My score of 506 was a paltry effort next to the winning total of 707 by “Travino”, but all is not lost. There were a couple of positives to come out of the weekend and I’m quietly confident of improvement this week.

First my team was not affected by the spate of injuries that afflicted players across all clubs in Round 1. It means that I don’t have to make any forced trades, something that would be a must if I had Neville Costigan or Chase Stanley or Scott Geddes in my 25-man squad. And so far I don’t have to confront the dilemma of trading or not trading players like Sam Burgess, Josh Morris or Jamie Lyon, whose injuries are likely to keep them out for a month or more.

Secondly, my spending strategy explained last week (60 percent of my cap went on forwards and 40 percent on backs) was exactly in keeping with Travino’s. I should have taken it further, though, and committed a high percentage to the halves and less to the outside backs and fullbacks.

For instance, Travino spent around $65,000 less on his two fullbacks (Dane Gagai and Gareth Widdop) than I did on mine (Brett Morris and Nathan Merritt) and his scored almost twice as many points.  He spent around $150,000 less than I did on centres and wingers for almost the same result.

And Travino’s thriftiness allowed him to spend more on his halves ($684,000 against my $546,000) and that allowed him to pick up an extra 30 points on my score in this area.

Up front he made some clever purchases like Aiden Tolman for $233,000 and Mitch Allgood for the bargain price of $73,600. I paid more for Jason King than Travino did for Tolman and scored half as many points. I paid $100,000 more for David Shillington than Travino did for Allgood and scored less.

Travino had me beaten all over the park and so I have paid him the ultimate compliment by following his lead and immediately drafting Tolman and Allgood into my line-up.

I’ve still got a long way to go to catch him but I am confident that move will be worth an extra 30 or 40 points this week.

And it has freed up over $100,000 in my salary cap which should allow me to splash out on a hooker like Cameron Smith or Robbie Farah next week.

I was disappointed in my selection of Andrew McCullough from the Broncos. I can recall him topping the tackle count on a number of occasions last season but he managed only 15 points in Round 1. For the time being I am prepared to stick with him and hope that he’ll improve this Friday night against the Raiders.

As for my back row, it’s clear I need to shuffle my talent to include more high scorers in this area. Travino splashed out $230,000 more than I did and benefitted from three scores over 30 and one over 50. I managed just two scores over 30.

Obviously, with a maximum of two trades per round (and a total of 30 for the season) it is not possible to make the wholesale changes I need to make. And if injuries intervene, strategic moves will have to wait.

I may not be threatening Travino this week but Middo’s Magicians are on the move!

Sign up for Toyota Dream Team now.  It's not too late to challenge your mates with head-to-head action starting in round four, and there's $500 up for grabs every week for the best score of the round.