The Magicians have a hard luck story this week. Our best laid plans of a high-scoring round were scuttled when two of our most dependable players were laid low by injury.

Queensland forward Ashley Harrison was a late withdrawal from the Titans team that played the Bulldogs last Friday night and Dallas Johnson had only minimal input for the Cowboys after suffering concussion early in his clash with the Roosters.

Compounding our situation was our decision to give Corey Parker the night off as captain given that he had represented Queensland 48 hours earlier. In hindsight that was a very big mistake. Not only did Parker come up with the highest score of the round (67 points), Johnson, our new choice for captain, managed only 28 (56 with the captaincy). That decision alone cost us 78 points.

And if Harrison could have been relied upon to reach his average score for the season, then there was another 53 points down the drain. All up a net loss of 131 points over two players.

We also did ourselves no favours with our high proportion of Warriors players in our squad of 25. Because they had the bye last weekend we were restricted to a bare minimum of 17 potential scorers and when Harrison withdrew we did not have an auto-emergency to call into play.

But we are hoping our glut of Warriors players (James Maloney, Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown, Russell Packer and Ben Matulino) will pay off in the weeks ahead. They may have another bye in Round 17, but our Warriors’ players have been consistent scorers this season and we plan to stick by them.

Our first move for Round 13 was to reinstate Parker as captain and we’re relying on Johnson and Harrison to bounce back this week. Our Warriors contingent should bolster our scoring potential and Joel Thompson has been a reliable scorer on the Raiders’ right side.

Looking ahead to Round 14 when six teams are out of action with byes, we should be reasonably well covered with 13 potential scorers at present. We have 13 trades up our sleeve which is manageable but we’re also keen to trade out injured stars Aiden Tolman and Matt Utai in the next week.

Our ideal remains to manoeuvre in Cameron Smith or Shaun Fensom but that is going to cost us several trades. We are still trying to determine the best means to do this without making an unnecessary drain on remaining trades.

Injuries are sure to raise their head over the final 10 rounds of the season and it is imperative that we have enough trades to see us through. Although we traded heavily over the first eight rounds, we have managed to limit our activity to just four over the past five rounds.

Our options on Tolman and Utai are to make single trades for each, perhaps calling in Trent Merrin for Tolman and Alex Glenn for Utai but if we wanted to work Smith or Fensom in, it would mean trading Tolman for Mose Masoe, for example (freeing up $212,000 on our cap) and swapping Utai for Steve Michaels (freeing up another $26,000). That would leave us around $250,000 in the black to make a move on Smith or Fensom. It would mean we could then trade Casey McGuire for Smith and we would still have $50,000 left under our cap.

Better still, if we leave Utai in reserve, we can swap Tolman for Masoe and Smith for McGuire and then we have used up only two trades in the process.

It sounds like a plan for Round 15. Cameron Smith, here we come!