Scout Report: Round 24 teams wrap
The big ins and outs for Holden NRL Fantasy heading into Round 24 of the Telstra Premiership season.
Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, Thursday night at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Pat O'Hanlon replaces the injured Lloyd Perrett (ankle) while Harlan Alaalatoa is added to the extended bench. James Graham ($345,203) and Tim Lafai ($303,043) keep coming up with the goods with scores in the mid-50s on the weekend, while Aiden Tolman ($266,394, 77 points) and an increasingly consistent Tony Williams ($244,280, 51) also impressed.
Tigers: Fantasy cheapie Dene Halatau is out with a hamstring injury, replaced in the back row by Bodene Thompson. With the Tigers struggling, Robbie Farah ($442,612) is getting the vast majority of his points from defence these days, leading to a season-low score of 42 last week. He's still a keeper but maybe not captain material at the moment. There's not much else to write home about for the Tigers these days – star prop Aaron Woods scored an injury-affected 23 in the loss to the Roosters and Halatau had been the team's next best scorer over the past three weeks with an average of just 28.7.
Eels v Sea Eagles, Friday night at Pirtek Stadium
Eels: Junior Paulo replaces Fuifui Moimoi at prop and Peni Terepo is on the bench in place of Pauli Pauli. Jarryd Hayne's frankly ridiculous run of form continues, and at $523,419 he's about $50,000 more expensive than any other player in NRL Fantasy. He just keeps producing the goods in attack, with another try, try assist, 229 metres and nine tackle breaks against the Bulldogs, but can he do it again against the league leaders?
Sea Eagles: Steve Matai is back in the side at centre after being a late withdrawal due to a shoulder injury on the weekend, with Cheyse Blair dropping out. Daly Cherry-Evans ($390,119) is making up for lost time with some good scores in recent weeks, while Anthony Watmough ($317,095) also cracked the 70-point mark on Sunday.
Broncos v Knights, Saturday at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Josh Hoffman is out with a leg injury and isn't expected back before the finals, but Ben Barba remains at five-eighth with Lachlan Maranta named to start at fullback. Josh McGuire ($361,874) is in hot form and a good pick-up in the front row right now, with scores of 53, 64 and 63 in recent weeks. Andrew McCullough ($372,345) played the full 80 at hooker again last week and produced 58.
Knights: Willie Mason is back in the side at prop, pushing David Fa'alogo to the bench. Newcastle are on a rare winning run at the moment and their backs are getting some rewards in Fantasy, with rookie hat-trick hero Sione Mata'utia ($183,038) and barnstorming centre Joey Leilua ($281,343) both notching half centuries. Kurt Gidley has scored 58 and 49 since switching to fullback in the past couple of weeks.
Rabbitohs v Cowboys, Saturday night at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Kyle Turner replaces the suspended Ben Te'o, who will miss four weeks over a dangerous contact charge. Greg Inglis ($313,101) has been quiet for much of the year but he was back with a bang on Thursday night, racking up a hat-trick in a big 81-point effort. Adam Reynolds ($393,494) and Sam Burgess ($471,821) both went big as well, with Burgess remaining a safe captaincy option, while Issac Luke ($320,609) is back to hitting solid 50s. Boom centre Dylan Walker ($361,047) bounced back from the previous week's 13 with his seventh 50+ effort from his past eight games.
Cowboys: Tariq Sims is back in the second row, shifting Gavin Cooper to the bench and Ethan Lowe out of the side. Matt Scott ($362,770) is the Cowboys' most consistent scorer at the moment, with Jason Taumalolo ($293,192) and Johnathan Thurston ($384,469) both underwhelming in North Queensland's loss to Penrith on Monday.
Warriors v Roosters, Sunday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: The Hurrellcane is back, with human wrecking ball Konrad Hurrell named in the centres and forcing a reshuffle in the Warriors' pack. Ben Henry is back to the second row, Ben Matulino moves up to the front row, and Suaia Matagi shifts to a seven-man bench. Shaun Johnson ($367,385) made a welcome return on Sunday and was in good scoring touch despite his team's loss to Newcastle, hitting a team-high 54.
Roosters: The Roosters have lost another hooker with Heath L'Estrange picking up a knee injury, although Jake Friend is due to return next week. In the meantime utility man Mitch Aubusson will start at hooker, with Dylan Napa and Sam Moa again switching between prop and the bench. Sonny Bill Williams is also another week away. Last week's thrashing of the woeful Tigers led to some big scores for Mitchell Pearce ($268,392), Shaun Kenny-Dowall ($229,125), Sam Moa ($251,376) James Maloney ($295,534) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ($261,640), but Aiden Guerra ($346,925) remains their most consistent Fantasy scorer.
Sharks v Raiders, Sunday afternoon at Remondis Stadium
Sharks: Tinirau Arona will miss a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, with Anthony Tupou returning to the second row and Tupou Sopoaga moving back to the bench. Michael Lichaa also starts at hooker with Pat Politini joining the interchange. With Andrew Fifita gone, Paul Gallen ($473,542) made a welcome return for the Sharks and promptly scored a solid 56 – and he should only improve over the next couple of weeks.
Raiders: Jordan Rapana has impressed at fullback in the last couple of weeks but is out for the season with a fractured skull, with Jack Wighton named to wear the No.1 this week. Jeremy Hawkins is in at centre, while Dane Tilse replaces the injured Brett White (hamstring) at prop and Kyle O'Donnell joins the bench. The reshuffle means Anthony Miflord ($278,174) stays in the halves, where he has scored a couple of 40s in recent weeks, while young playmaker Mitch Cornish ($81,565) will again get limited minutes off the bench. Paul Vaughan ($304,972) continues to get through a lot of work off the bench and is a solid pickup in the front or back row.
Dragons v Titans, Sunday afternoon at WIN Jubilee Oval
Dragons: Bronson Harrison has been added to an extended bench, while Ben Creagh and Dan Hunt are both a chance of being a late inclusion on Sunday. It looks like Josh Dugan ($321,023) is staying in the centres for good this year, but as long as he keeps finding the tryline (as he did in his 51-point game against Canberra) he'll remain a solid Fantasy scorer. Trent Merrin ($304,421) made just 15 tackles in 45 minutes against the Raiders for a disappointing score of 21.
Titans: They're unchanged, but there is not a lot to love about the Titans in Fantasy these days. Daniel Mortimer ($249,103) is easily the club's most popular Fantasy player with a spot in 33,000 squads, and his main value at the moment is as a target in defence with more than 30 tackles in each of his last three games (although he did give up 11 missed tackles as well last week). He's still a high-30s scorer and a solid enough bench/back-up player for your squad.
Panthers v Storm, Monday night at Sportingbet Stadium
Panthers: James Segeyaro's ankle injury appeared to be horror news for Penrith and Segeyaro's 11,405 Fantasy owners, with early reports suggesting the star hooker faced the prospect of being out for the season, but he's been named and the man himself has tweeted that he should be fine by Monday night. Backline stars Josh Mansour ($307,452), Jamal Idris ($286,923) and Jamie Soward ($265,429) are all averaging better than 45 points a game over the past few weeks.
Storm: Ryan Hinchcliffe starts at lock for Jordan McLean, who moves back to the bench in Melbourne's only change. Jesse Bromwich ($321,023) stole the show against the Sharks with a try and a try assist to go with 207 run metres and six offloads, adding up to a season-high 82 points, but Cameron Smith ($447,227) also showed why he's the safest captaincy option in Fantasy with a no-frills 72. Will Chambers ($308,416) is the most in-form centre in Fantasy right now, averaging a tick under 57 over the past three weeks.