At long last, today's the day. After weeks spent fine-tuning your Dream Team, the NRL season kicks off tonight as old rivals the Roosters and Rabbitohs go head-to-head.
Now's the time to lock in your starting squad for 2013.
If you haven't checked out my previous few columns, where I name some key rookies, backs and forwards to keep an eye on this season, then find them here.
Now, some last-minute answers to this week's big questions heading into round 1.
From Kelly Boyle
Hey Lone Scout. Wondering if you could put together a list of player likely to have kicking duties for each club? Would be very helpful in finalising my team before lockout this week.
Goalkickers aren't the be-all and end-all in NRL Dream Team, but they can contribute a handy few points every week. Here's my take on who will be this year's sharpshooters (when teams are at full strength):
Rabbitohs – Adam Reynolds
Roosters – James Maloney
Broncos – Scott Prince
Sea Eagles – Jamie Lyon
Eels – Chris Sandow
Warriors – Shaun Johnson
Bulldogs – Krisnan Inu
Cowboys – Jonathan Thurston
Panthers – Luke Walsh
Raiders – Jarrod Croker
Storm – Cameron Smith
Dragons – Jamie Soward
Sharks – Michael Gordon
Titans – Aiden Sezer
Knights – Kurt Gidley
Tigers – Benji Marshall
From Aaron Lewis
With a rolling lockout this first week: after Thursday's game, do we still have unlimited trades to sort the rest of our team using players that haven't played yet?
That's right. Your unlimited trades last up until the final game of Round 1 begins (the Knights-Tigers game on Monday night). So before tonight's game you essentially just need to lock in your Rabbitohs and Roosters players, and you can still adjust the rest of your squad on Friday.
You'll be able to continue tweaking your squad on Saturday, Sunday and Monday for those players whose teams haven't played yet (so by Monday you'll only be able to swap Knights and Tigers players).
From Ryan Lynn
Is it worth hanging on to Kane Evans even though he hasn’t made the first round?
This could be a question about any number of popular rookies who didn't get picked to play in Round 1. There's two schools of thought on this: 1) you could hold onto him in the hope that he'll get a call-up down the track and earn you money; or 2) you could trade him for someone guaranteed to play this week.
I'm in the second group, and like all 25 of my players to play in Round 1. If you bring in a low-priced player who has been named this week, even on the bench, you at least give yourself a chance of him scoring some points this week and moving a step closer to a pay rise. If you pick a non-playing rookie, then he'll definitely score zero, and there's no guarantees he'll play next week either, or the week after.
Player prices don't move until a player has played three games, so if Evans gets a call-up in a month, you could still trade him in before his price moves in Round 6 or 7. And by that time, you could be cashing in on another cash cow taking up that front row position. So I'd cut Evans if I was you.
From Charlie Keenan
It seems harder and harder each year to put the big three of Corey Parker, Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen into my fantasy team. What sort of strategy should be used to still have these players without sacrificing the team as a whole?
I don't think you can pick the big three at the start of the season without sacrificing your squad as a whole – getting a good, balanced squad together with depth across the park is no easy feat when you're spending $1.5 million on three players. I'm not sure you'd want all three at the start of the season ether – Parker is likely to lose points with Scott Prince taking the goalkicking duties at Brisbane, while Gallen is likely to spend more time on the bench this season (and that's not taking into account Cronulla's worrying situation). They'll still be must-have guns down the track, but their starting prices are likely to fall in the first couple of months.
I'll be starting with Cameron Smith only, but if you're keep to load up on the big guns I'd suggest sticking to just two of these guys at the start of the year and improving the depth of your squad elsewhere.
From Corey Hart
David Klemmer or Jack Buchanan?
The two $101,600 props who will be in action this week are battling for spots in a lot of Dream Teams, but I'm leaning towards Wests Tigers young gun Buchanan over the Bulldogs' Klemmer. For one thing he's been named to start this week, while Klemmer will come off the 'Dogs bench. For another, while Buchanan's main rival for his position is Aaron Woods (who could be a late inclusion in the Tigers team on Monday), Klemmer could lose his spot when Sam Kasiano and/or Frank Pritchard return from injuries. That makes Buchanan a safer bet for me, despite the huge wraps on Klemmer during the pre-season.
From Calum Pope
What are your thoughts on Cowboys hooker Scott Moore as a) a long-term DT option and b) as a potential cash cow?
I reckon as a starting hooker valued at less than $200K, Moore looks good as an early season cash cow. But not as a long-term prospect – he's got Rory Kostjasyn on the bench who is likely to take minutes off him at dummy half, and you really want a hooker playing close to 80 minutes a week in the long run.
From Albert Odendaal
Is it a smart idea to have two starting second rowers from the same team?
Some people tend to be worried about this idea – having two players from the same position (second-rowers, halves, etc) from the same team in your squad. The fear is that one of the players will be "taking" points off the other one by getting more minutes, doing more tackling/kicking, etc.
I don't see this as an issue; if they're going to be taking points off each other, that's going to happen whether they're in your squad or not. If you leave one out of your team for the sake of it, that player might end up being the better scorer. And there's no reason two back-rowers from the same team can't both be quality Dream Team players.
I've currently got two back-rowers from the one team in my squad, and expect both to make some price rises early in the season.