Scout Report: Round 23 teams wrap
Andrew Fifita's broken arm and George Burgess's suspension add to the headaches facing Holden NRL Fantasy coach this week, while Paul Gallen's return is a welcome bit of good news. Hopefully you've still got some trades left heading into this week's games, but this is also the time of year when picking the right bench and captain is crucial. Check out which team each of your players is up against before giving them the 'C' or leaving them in or out of your top 17.
Remember, Round 23 kicks off on Thursday night so lock in your trades (at least the ones involving Souths and Brisbane) before then.
Rabbitohs v Broncos, Thursday night at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Sam Burgess ($474,333) may have returned with a vengeance with 81 points last week but his brother George will miss the next two weeks through suspension. Thomas Burgess replaces his brother at prop, with Luke Burgess, Joe Picker and Bryson Goodwin added to an extended bench. Sam is once again a strong captaincy candidate, while Adam Reynolds ($378,147) has been averaging close to 64 points a game since John Sutton went down injured three weeks ago. Issac Luke ($304,305) has avoided a suspension this week with an early guilty plea and is producing solid 50+ scores.
Broncos: The Broncos are unchanged this week, although Justin Hodges is likely to be a late inclusion. Workhorse prop Josh McGuire ($350,783) looms as a decent replacement for Andrew Fifita or George Burgess after hitting 53 and 64 in his past two games, while Matt Gillett ($296,457) has been similarly busy in the past couple of weeks in the back row. Corey Parker ($398,360) is another obvious candidate in the forwards if he's not in your side, while Ben Hunt ($384,953) bounced back to his best with a two-try 73 in Brisbane's thrashing of the Bulldogs last week.
Eels v Bulldogs, Friday night at ANZ Stadium
Eels: At $502,798, Jarryd Hayne is now the only player in NRL Fantasy to cost more than half a million dollars, and he's a must-have if you can afford him. His recent form (91, 82, 94) is simply staggering, with a combined six tries, 31 tackle breaks and 809 metres gained in his past three games. If you've got the trades, Isaac De Gois ($245,383) is ready to be upgraded after scoring just 20 on the weekend – causing his price to rise by only $11 (not $11,000, just $11). Trade him for the likes of Smith, Farah, McCullough or Luke if you can. Vai Toutai, Fuifui Moimoi and Tepai Moroa start this week for Parra with Junior Paulo suspended and Bureta Faraimo and Peni Terepo dropping out.
Bulldogs: Josh Reynolds has copped a three-week ban, with Moses Mbye starting at five-eighth in his place, while Reni Maitau is in for the injured Sam Kasiano. Tackle-hungry back-rower Josh Jackson ($318,812) has been the one shining light of the Bulldogs' serious dip in form over the past month, with the young gun averaging almost 58 points over the last three weeks. James Graham and Tim Lafai remain keepers, while Aidan Tolman will start in Kasiano's absence this week.
Raiders v Dragons, Saturday afternoon GIO Stadium
Raiders: Unchanged this week. With Shaun Fensom out for the year, Paul Vaughan ($290,348), Josh Papalii ($304,580), Anthony Milford ($287,185) and possibly cheap fullback Jordan Rapana ($127,745) are Canberra's only really Fantasy-relevant players at the moment, and there are better options out there if you haven't got any of them already.
Dragons: Adam Quinlan is out but Josh Dugan still hasn't been moved to fullback, with Gerard Beale switching there instead and Peter Mata'utia named in the centres. Tyson Frizell joins a six-man bench. Either way, Dugan ($327,269) should bounce back from the weekend's 23-point effort against his old club with the Dragons once again desperate to end their Canberra hoodoo. Trent Merrin is playing a little over 40 minutes a game at the moment, and his Fantasy owners will be keen for that number to go up in the next week or two.
Storm v Sharks, Saturday at AAMI Park
Storm: Jordan McLean has been added to an extended bench in Melbourne's only change. Cameron Smith ($446,763) scored a disappointing (by his standards) 48 against Newcastle on the weekend, with no major impact in attack and no chance to notch a massive tackle count in the 32-30 tryfest. He should improve this week. Will Chambers ($288,767) is coming off a couple of big performances if you're in the hunt for a centre, while Sisa Waqa's 64 against Newcastle is likely to be a one-off unless he can score four tries again.
Sharks: Andrew Fifita's broken arm is a massive blow for Fantasy coaches, and he's a must-sell. At least Paul Gallen ($472,707) is set to return after a virus delayed his comeback last week, with Tinirau Arona moving back to the bench. Tim Robinson and Matt Prior start with Fifita out and Sam Tagataese starting a four-match suspension. Fa'amanu Brown's price has peaked if you have the trades to upgrade him.
Wests Tigers v Roosters, Saturday night at Leichhardt Oval
Tigers: Cory Paterson is a surprise name in the centres this week with Tim Simona sidelined with a knee injury, while Keith Galloway and Sitaleki Akauola also return to the side. Robbie Farah ($460,514) made 58 tackles in last week's thrashing at the hands of the Cowboys, but had no chance to contribute much in attack. He's still up there with the best captaincy options in Fantasy, providing the Tigers don't play that poorly every week. Aaron Woods ($348,239) scored 61 (including his team's only try) in that loss and is a decent replacement up front for Andrew Fifita.
Roosters: Sam Moa has been named to start with Dylan Napa moving back to the bench in the Chooks' only change. Aiden Guerra's ($335,932) terrific run of form continues with scores of 55, 53, 59 and 60 in the past month.
Knights v Warriors, Sunday afternoon at Hunter Stadium
Knights: Jarrod Mullen is back for Newcastle, with last week's goal-kicking hero Kurt Gidley named at fullback and Sione Mata'utia dropping out. Beau Scott's return means Chris Houston is 18th man, while Adam Clydsdale will start at hooker. Kade Snowden ($287,873) produced a season-best 56 points against Melbourne on the weekend and is a cut-price – albeit risky – replacement option for Andrew Fifita if you want to free up cash to spend elsewhere.
Warriors: Shaun Johnson ($377,696) is back in a major boost for the Warriors (and his NRL Fantasy owners) although Konrad Hurrell is still out with a hamstring injury. David Fusitu'a and Ben Henry have been named in the backline in place of injured duo Dane Nielsen and Tuimoala Lolohea, with Jayson Bukuya in the second row and Nathan Friend bumped to the bench by new starting hooker Thomas Leuluai.
Titans v Sea Eagles, Sunday afternoon at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: No changes were announced for the Gold Coast in Neil Henry's first run as head coach. Aidan Sezer produced a solid 44 points after being a late inclusion for the Gold Coast last week, getting the bulk of his team's kicking duties. That could be bad news for Daniel Mortimer's scoring chances, although the pivot still managed 39 last week thanks to a season-high 34 tackles.
Sea Eagles: Manly are unchanged despite last Friday's loss to Souths. Daly Cherry-Evans ($377,390) should improve on his score of 39 - the first time he's scored less than 40 since Round 6.
Panthers v Cowboys, Monday night at Sportingbet Stadium
Panthers: No changes for Penrith this week, with tough-to-stop trio James Segeyaro ($420,499, 71 points last week), Josh Mansour ($307,399, 60) and Jamal Idris ($280,791, 55) all impressing against the Dragons.
Cowboys: Unchanged. The Cowboys monstered the Wests Tigers last weekend, resulting in big scores for Tautau Moga, Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo, Matthew Wright, Tariq Sims and Antonio Winterstein, but Johnathan Thurston ($395,954), Matthew Scott ($360,477) and the in-form Taumalolo ($280,929) remain their best buys.