The moment of truth has arrived for Dream Teamers as DT coaches work frantically to shore up their squads ahead of this weekend’s Round From Hell.
The appearance of 68 leading players in Friday night’s representative matches, the potential for injury and the decisions of coaches to rest players rather than risk them playing twice in a short period is only half the problem.
The other half of the dilemma is the scheduling of the byes which take half of the NRL clubs out of the equation this weekend.
It means that some Dream teams will be hopelessly ill-prepared and unable to field 17 players from clubs that are actually playing in Round 9. They are destined to take a major hit to their overall ranking and for that reason this shapes as one of the most important weekends of the entire Dream Team season.
Middo’s Magicians have been working towards this round for many weeks and although we have been successful in leaving ourselves with 17 “viable” players, there is little doubt that we will struggle for trades later in the season.
We are down to 16 trades for the remaining 18 weeks of the competition and it means we will need to tread extremely warily when it comes to future trades.
The Magicians are relatively “rep proof” this weekend with only a handful of players at risk of being injured in Friday night’s games on the Gold Coast and at Albury.
Our rep players are confined to New Zealanders Sam Rapira, Nathan Fien and Ben Matulino, who will be expected to front up against the Titans at Skilled Park on Sunday afternoon.
The 17 players who will take the field for Middo’s Magicians vary only slightly from the team which scored 724 points in Round 8. We have been forced to sub out high scorers Aiden Tolman (Canterbury), Casey McGuire (Parramatta) and Chris Houston (Newcastle) and replace them with Ben Matulino (Warriors), Nathan Fien (St George Illawarra) and Tony Williams (Manly).
We had planned to have an 18th player on stand-by to act as our Auto Emergency should one of our players be ruled unfit but it looks unlikely that Cowboys’ hooker James Segeyaro will make an appearance at Kogarah this Sunday.
And as our attention turns to Round 11 when six of this weekend’s teams will have the bye, we made one further change to our line-up and used up our 14th trade, swapping Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman for Manly’s Jamie Buhrer.
The change leaves us with 13 scoring players for Round 11 (at the same time maintaining our 17-man line-up for Round 9), with four trades still available to us between now and then. Of course, we will need to weigh up the costs and benefits of making further changes as our trades continue to diminish.
Our Round 11 team lacks a scoring halfback and three reserves at this point and another factor to consider is that there are further rounds with multiple byes in Round 14 and Round 17. It is a treacherous period of the season where strategy becomes all important.
The Magicians might be covered for Round 9 but we fear that serious problems lie ahead!
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