Middo's Dream Team bounces back

There were celebrations in the Magicians’ camp this week. After our blow-out in round one we climbed some 10,000 places on the Dream Team rankings and although we’re not getting carried away, we admit that we did let our hair down at full time as we belted out our victory song in the sheds.

But this is only round two and there’s still a long way to go. It’s a sobering thought that there are over 10,000 teams in front of us on a very long leaderboard, but the Magicians promised improvement and we delivered.

Our two trades paid off handsomely in round two. Mitchell Allgood (34 points at $73,600) and Aiden Tolman (42 points at $233,400) delivered impressively and they also left the Magicians with plenty of room under the salary cap. With David Shillington and Jason King offloaded, we were left with around $170,000 leeway under the cap which has allowed us to move again this week to shore up some weak areas.

Fullback has been a problem position over the opening fortnight with St George Illawarra’s Brett Morris ($163,000) not performing. We’ve drafted in Lachlan Coote ($139,300) from the Panthers and we’re expecting him to offer far greater value. He scored 39 points in round two against Morris’s meagre tally of nine. And after two disappointing returns, we’ve axed Melbourne’s Todd Lowrie ($157,000) and splashed out on Titans lock Ashley Harrison ($290,800). So far Harrison has returned scores of 62 and 49 against Lowrie’s moderate efforts of 22 and 17.

So once again we are looking at considerable improvement from our team, and while we have been blessed on the injury front over the first fortnight we are under no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead.

As it stands Middo’s Magicians have five positions that will be left with zero scorers in the first bye round (round nine) which means that we will have to do some heavy duty juggling over the next six weeks.

For instance, our two fullbacks are Coote and the Rabbitohs’ Nathan Merritt. With the Panthers and the Rabbitohs both drawing byes in round nine, we will be without a scoring fullback. It means we will probably stick with Coote but trade Merritt for a fullback of similar value.

At this point the Magicians are looking reasonably settled so outside the bye factor there should not be the need for too much strategic trading in upcoming weeks. Our trades are likely to be influenced by injuries as well as the need to cover for the byes.

By round nine our plan is not to have exceeded 10 trades. That will give us room to move later in the season when injuries become a greater factor. And unless injuries intervene in the short term, our plan is to trade only five more players before round nine to ensure we have 17 scoring players.

Trades aside, only minor changes were necessary to our line-up for round three. Mitchell Allgood is out of the Eels’ line-up for Friday night’s clash with Souths so we have subbed him out for his Parramatta replacement Shane Shackleton. And we’ve also reinstated James Maloney following his one-match suspension and benched Nathan Fien. We’ve taken a punt on Fien outscoring Panthers prop Sam McKendry.

And we’ll be looking for more of the same from our captain Corey Parker (62 points last week) and Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, who has so far proven to be the best value player in Dream Team with scores of 29 and 49.

Great challenges lie ahead for Toyota Dream Team coaches and the secret is in the planning. Good luck with your team.

See how you perform against Middo's Magicians in Toyota NRL Dream Team.  $500 weekly prize up for grabs and it's free to join.