You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content's Lone Scout has this week's answers to the burning questions facing NRL Dream Team coaches ahead of Round 15.

I thought I might start with something different this week as an insight bit for those fans who haven't caught the Dream Team bug yet or are not sure how to get involved.

This week I wrote the following short piece for Big League. It was titled 'One week at a time', and is a somewhat generic rap on the Dream Team strap line, "It's never too late", with reference to last week's weekly prize winner, who manufactured a purpose-built team.

"I know what you’re thinking.

"You’ve seen this column every week thinking it was a waste of space in your favourite magazine because you didn’t join up to the NRL’s official Dream Team competition at the start of the year.

"I know someone who definitely felt that way, except last week he did something about it and won $500 for his troubles.

"Lawrence, aka Team Comeatme, put together a carefully constructed team of Round 14 specialists to scoop the pool and turn a profit in his team’s first week on the job.

"How did he do it?

"A look at his team reveals a group of solid Dream Teamers who did everything right in the absence of the State of Origin superstars and rewarded their coach handsomely.

"A couple of Shaun Fensom (73), Jake Friend (57), Robbie Farah (55), Gareth Widdop (50), Glenn Stewart (53), Matt Srama (43) and James Tamou (44) may be in teams chasing overall and head-to-head glory, but they were perfectly placed to deliver big points in a bye weekend.

"Twelve of the top 20 scores for the week were brand new teams purposefully built to make a killing for one week and one week only. It’s not too late to enter.

"The beauty of coming in now is that you are actually at an advantage if you want to win the weekly prize because unlike the majority of Dream Teamers, you’re starting with a blank canvas and with current form right in front of you. All you need to do is juggle the initial $4.2M salary cap – not as easy as it sounds, but definitely doable.

"So, if you are going to construct a team from scratch for a single this week’s round, who should you target?

"I’ll look at the next big opportunity in Round 17, but you can do this any week.

"Start now and your chances should be better.

"The Storm, Tigers, Titans, Warriors, Cowboys and Sea Eagles all have byes in Round 17. So, don’t pick players from these teams. No Cameron Smith nor Robbie Farah? No worries. Take Jake Friend or Matt Keating instead.

"Look for players like Deon Apps, Chad Townsend and Boyd Cordner to fill out your squad and add them first. They have played less than three matches and are as cheap as you can get. Therefore they’re perfect initial selections to ensure you get maximum value for the prized point-scoring picks you need to win. And, bonus! They may well play come Round 17. More importantly, they may have gone up in value by them, meaning you can ‘leverage’ a little more value from your trades between now and then.

"Then choose your team based on how likely they are to play and score in Round 17. Gallen? No, he’ll be out on Origin duty. Hindmarsh? Definitely. You get the drift. You want the best 18 (17 players and a gun auto emergency, just in case) you can muster come Round 17.

"Lastly, get a trade plan together. Four trades are on offer from now until Round 17. Use them wisely for added benefit."

Makes you think you should get your little brother (or maybe mum) a team, doesn't it?

And as an added bonus, the Sydney Morning Herald eight-week subscription offer for noobs is still valid until the end of June.


So, who didn't enjoy Origin 2? Even the hardest Queenslander would have to admit that was the game the series needed. And, how good was true Blue Paul Gallen? The oft-maligned Shark was a deserved MOM and could well have rewritten the job description for frontrowers. As ever, Gal also figured among the top Dream team point-scorers from Origin 2.

Check out what would have been the final Dream Team numbers of both teams here.

Somewhat surprisingly, Gallen was not among the top converters of minutes to points. I did a little bit of maths on the DT points and worked out that the top five converters of minutes to points were: Parker, Merrin, Smith, Petero and Hannant (in that order). Pointless, but interesting nonetheless.

Fingers crossed Parker shakes off his Origin hangover and suits up against the Dragons.

And a parting shout out to the Maroon fans that are still disagreeing with me that Game 2 was a cracker. No doubt normal service will be resumed next up and anyone not from the Sunshine State will be on the receiving end of plenty of six-fingered salutes.


And so, to a few burning questions.

Q: Okay. I'm gone I think? $25k and three trades and this is the team I have:
HOK: Srama, Fien
FRF: Snowden, Bailey, T. Sims, J. Miller
2RF: Houston, Mateo, Parker, T. Robinson, Shackleton, Lowrie
HLF: Cherry-Evans, Thurston, Maloney, Hornby
CTW: T. Williams, B. Smith, A. Glenn, E. Taylor, L. Brown, G. Beale, D. Mead
FB: Widdop, Presto

Was my downfall going for too many mid-range players?

A: Yes and no. It may look that way at first, but really your big mistake was to get down to three trades (with 11 rounds to play). That is compounded by the fact that you have used those trades to get mid-range personnel rather than guns.

The 'mid-range' aspect wouldn't be so bad if you had another half-a-dozen trades, but with only three you are gonski. Your 'depth' may help to cover the inevitable injuries, but ultimately you will not be able to convert latent bench cash into hardcore points scoring when it's needed.

For example, of the FRFs listed, Snowden, Bailey are the obvious top-line FRFs, leaving Sims as the back-up (especially as he's a 2RF switch-hitter with Robinson and going up in value) and Miller as an approximately $80k waste of space (Miller's value of $151.4k less the cheapest possible replacement $73.6k = approx $80k you could have had up your sleeve if you traded him out).

Extrapolate that to Hornby (another approx $60k to use if replaced by a cheapie like Shaun Johnson) and you would have close to $160k to spend on converting Lowrie and Shackleton in to (say) Fensom and Cordner, giving you a competitive team (with Srama, Sims, Mateo & Maloney as reserves.) Unfortunately it looks like you can't, or at least you can't until way too late in the piece.

Anyway, the point is trades are gold in Dream Team and you must use them wisely. I've said it many times: make a plan early in the year and try to stick to it (at least in principle). If you don't, you will find yourself in another mid-range-and-tradeless dilemma.


Q: LS, could you please comment as to why Farah went down in value? I had his break even to be 45 before the weekend. He got 55 ... So something might not be right there?

A: I've mentioned Break Even (BE) and how it's calculated before, but due to the number of queries I thought I'd have another go at explaining ... and I've had the techs verify this.

With the Farah example, apparently his BE in the database from last round was 52 and not 45, so we're not sure where you got the 45 from. The point of making this correction is that it brings the actual score of 55 'into range'.

By 'into range' I mean that the BE is a mathematical approximation expressed as an exact value. It should really say something like 52-58 (for example). The reason for this is that price values are 'moved' post-round based on an individual player's score, his previous three scores, some hokey pokey and a 'normalisation' against all player values. 'Normalisation' means the values are related to every other price, within a pre-defined range, to ensure no player goes way off the scale at either end.

The Farah scenario mentioned fits this normalisation, but was extreme due to the high number of byes. BEs become a little less accurate in the four-odd rounds where there are a large number of byes, as the price changes still need to be normalised across the entire player list. This is somewhat different to normal when you have only 10 team's players participating, as opposed to the normal 16. There is a bit of variance there, as the entire list is taken into consideration.

So, what I'm saying is there is a slightly higher margin of error with BEs when less players' prices change, due to there being less players playing.

Consequently, there are certainly no problems with the price changes alone. These are consistent with all other changes made.

Note: Thanks to my asking them about your questions, the developers will look at the BE values in 2012.


This week's live chat on was with Broncos coach Anthony Griffin and unlike some others, he had some interesting things to say regarding Dream Team machinations.

For those that missed the cat, those interesting bits were:

- "(Jack Reed) is very fatigued after playing 80+ minutes in the backrow in the game against Canberra";

- "At the moment (Gerard Beale) is going to play left centre";

- "At this stage (Corey Parker) is 50-50 until we get a chance to assess... him";

- "(Justin Hodges) is 50-50 ... if he doesn't play Jack Reed will move into that position";

- "We are hopeful of taking (Matt Gillett) to Perth & playing him against the Rabbitohs"; and

- Corey Norman and Ben Hunt have the front-running on filling Locky's jumper next year.

Check out the full transcript of the chat.


And finally, because we all love a good rumour or two, here are some juicy bits to get your teeth into (remember they are just rumours for you to dwell on and have no validity until they're made official).

- Eels hooker Anthony Mitchell has signed with the Roosters, effective immediately. This one's been out there all week, but still no official confirmation from the Roosters, although Mitchell has apparently confirmed the move via his Twittering.

- Matt King (remember him from the Storm?) is apparently talking to Broncos. The Broncos are also after Robert Lui.

- Sharks utility Taulima Tautai is on his way back to the Eels, with Jonathon Wright, Dane Neilsen and Jarrod Croker all talking about a move to the Shire.

- The Sharks' recruitment drive will see Tupou and Pomeroy leave the club.

- Also leaving his club is Eel Billy Rogers. Souths' Junior VaiVai signed with Parra, but seems to be headed for the Penrith reserves in 2012. And apparently the Dragons Daniel Penese will be in blue and yellow next year.

- Jon Green and Adam Cuthbertson will follow super coach Wayne Bennett to the Knights, and join Nick Kenny there.

- The Panthers' hunt for a new coach is apparently near an end with Ivan Cleary all but signed.