Scout Report: Round 1 teams wrap
Jordan Kahu ($165,000) gets the fullback spot as expected but he's set to share the job with Justin Hodges ($234,000), with the veteran centre to defend in the front line but attack from the back. On the face of it, that should help Hodges' scoring potential (tackles plus attacking stats) and hurt Kahu (no tackles and fewer running opportunities) – although Kahu could end up benefiting through kick return metres and the occasional try or try assist out wide. Adam Blair ($298,700) starts at prop and was one of Brisbane's best in the World Club Series, with Corey Parker ($484,000) back at lock and dual-position cheapie Aaron Whitchurch ($136,000) seemingly beating Kodi Nikorima to the bench utility spot.
No big surprises in the starting line-up, with Glenn Stewart ($201,000) a popular buy in the back row after an injury-ravaged 2014 campaign at Manly. Rookie Chris Grevsmuhl ($128,000) looks to have secured a bench spot in jersey 14 while former Panther Tim Grant ($232,000) may miss out after being named 18th man (in a seven-man bench). Tom Burgess ($290,000) could be a valuable buy if he gets big minutes off the bench, capable of matching twin brother George for run metres and tackles when given the chance – although George Burgess ($437,000) remains among the best props in Fantasy. Adam Reynolds ($476,000) has been on fire in the pre-season and will be in a lot of teams.
Beau Champion ($146,000) is a cheap option in the centres and Reece Robinson ($214,000) has been racking up the points in the trials, but it's at the back and in the pack that the Eels are expected to have the biggest impact on Fantasy. There are high hopes Will Hopoate ($243,000) can get back to his form of old in Jarryd Hayne's former fullback role, while Anthony Watmough ($432,000) should get plenty of action at lock and Tepai Moeroa ($269,000) is capable of playing big minutes and getting through a lot of work in the second row.
Feleti Mateo ($242,000) starts in the back row while Clinton Cutherson ($296,000) shifts into the centres to replace the injured Steve Matai, but old favourites Daly Cherry-Evans ($456,000) and Jamie Lyon ($354,000) remain the safe Fantasy bets here. Jesse Sene-Lefao ($216,000) has got a lot of potential but will need decent minutes off the bench, while Luke Burgess ($225,000) could get an interchange spot ahead of 18th man Justin Horo.
Not many teams who missed the finals last season are able to leave a current Kangaroo out of their top 17, but that's what Newcastle have done with Sione Mata'utia ($300,000) missing out on a backline spot for Ricky Stone's side. He's in jersey 18 with regulars Joey Leilua, Dane Gagai, Akuila Uate and James McManus filling the outside backs roles. Former Dragon Jack Stockwell ($215,000) only gets a bench spot, while younger hooker Adam Clydsdale ($231,000) won't play 80 minutes (yet) with utility Tyler Randell on the bench. Jarrod Mullen ($436,000) is the genuine Fantasy gun in this side.
There is value on offer here, with bulldozing centre Solomone Kata ($128,000) named in a backline also featuring new dual position half/wing-fullback Tuimoala Lolohea ($142,000) on the wing. The pair might be bumped out in a few weeks when a few more experienced outside backs get out of the casualty ward, but they'll be snapped up in a few Fantasy teams before then. Rookie prop Albert Vete ($128,000) is on the bench, while Shaun Johnson ($485,000) and Sam Tomkins ($383,000) are the Fantasy stars of the side. Thomas Leuluai ($199,000) must be decent value as a starting hooker costing less than $200,000 in Fantasy.
The club's recent scandal hasn't led to too many team changes, although Fantasy coaches will be happy to see busy dummy-half Kierran Moseley ($186,000) in the No.9 and Ryan James ($192,000) and Nate Myles ($328,000) in the back row. Former Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi ($136,000) gets a spot on the bench, while ex-Bronco Josh Hoffman ($268,000) will start at centre. Hoffman and starting prop Eddy Pettybourne ($200,000) both now have dual position status in Fantasy.
There's a lot of young, risky Fantasy potential in this side. James Tedesco ($342,000) is a superstar on his day but his injury record is a little terrifying. Luke Brooks ($221,000) and Mitchell Moses ($169,000) are massive talents but their defensive lapses cost them dearly in Fantasy last season. Elsewhere, Robbie Farah ($588,000) is the safest captaincy option going around (and the most expensive), Aaron Woods ($426,000) is a big scorer who could be a little undervalued, and Brenden Santi ($136,000) is a potential bargain on the bench.
"Noooooooo" would have been the response of a lot of Fantasy coaches when they saw North Queensland's team list, with everybody's favourite outrageously cheap injury-ravaged fullback Lachlan Coote missing the cut. Instead, Paul Green has understandably opted to retain Michael Morgan ($330,000) in the role where he excelled last year, with Robert Lui ($331,000) partnering Johnathan Thurston ($484,000) in the halves. Dynamic hooker Jake Granville ($189,000) failed to earn a start as well, named on the bench as Rory Kostjasyn's back-up. Co-captains Thurston and Matt Scott ($471,000) are the stars here, with big expectations on wrecking ball lock Jason Taumalolo ($371,000) as well.
Matt McIlwrick ($199,000) gets the hooker spot while Jake Friend misses the first couple of months of the season after surgery, with Mitch Aubusson ($269,000) likely to spend some time at dummy-half off the bench. Blake Ferguson ($288,000) starts at centre as expected and will be good value if he can rival Michael Jennings ($331,000) as an attacking force, while Aidan Guerra ($398,000) seems the man most likely to pick up the slack left by the departed Sonny Bill Williams. Isaac Liu ($210,000) has been named at lock, Rookie Siosiua Taukeiaho ($128,000) looks set to grab a bench spot, although Martin Kennedy is in 18 and could bump the youngster out.
There are massive raps on youngster Bryce Cartwright ($289,000) after some impressive showings last season but the back-rower will start on the bench behind a Panthers pack featuring several usual suspects, with better value on offer in rookie bench prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard ($128,000). James Segeyaro ($448,000) might play the full 80 minutes at hooker, although fellow rake Api Koroisau is the last name on a six-man interchange.
There had been talk of James Graham ($448,000) or Aiden Tolman ($411,000) switching to lock in a reshuffled pack, but the pair of blonde workhorses are up front as usual, with Josh Jackson ($382,000), Tony Williams ($334,000) and Greg Eastwood ($300,000) in the back row as usual. There's a hint new signing Michael Lichaa ($261,000) could go straight to an 80-minute man at hooker with bench utility Moses Mbye only named in jersey 18, while potential cash cows David Klemmer ($191,000) and Frank Pritchard ($144,000) will still be battling for decent minutes from the interchange.
Hopes that star rookie Jack Bird ($128,000) would land a starting spot failed to eventuate with the centre named in the last spot on a six-man bench, but the news is better for David Fifita ($191,000) in jersey 17. Paul Gallen ($554,000) and Andrew Fifita ($535,000) are amongst the very best scorers in Fantasy, while Michael Gordon ($357,000) could join the elite Fantasy fullbacks this year if the Sharks start scoring some points after last year's wooden spoon-worthy campaign.
Some good news here with tackle machine Shaun Fensom ($519,000) back at lock, dual-position ex-Super League star Sia Soliola ($186,000) starting in the second row, new dual position centre/winger-fullback Edrick Lee ($145,000) in the centres, and everybody's favourite cash cow Mitch Cornish ($164,000) getting the nod at halfback ahead of Sam Williams. Jack Wighton ($310,000), Jarrod Croker ($360,000), Blake Austin ($319,000) and Josh Papalii ($396,000) all have the potential to post big scores as well.
Auckland Nines rookie sensation Eto Nabuli ($128,000) has been named on the wing but there's no sign of fellow rookie Euan Aitken in the backline. Rookie prop Rory O'Brien ($128,000) is back to the bench after starting for the Dragons in several pre-season games, with veteran recruit George Rose ($142,000) starting. Mitch Rein ($420,000) and Joel Thompson ($313,000) both played the full 80 minutes in the forward pack in the World Club Series against Warrington while Josh Dugan (385,000) is amongst the top-scoring fullbacks in NRL Fantasy.
Big news with the naming of Fantasy superstar Cameron Smith ($582,000) in the Melbourne side despite strong fitness doubts, although the decision to leave Ryan Hinchcliffe on the bench (rather than lock) suggests Hinchcliffe could give Smith a spell at dummy-half for part of Monday night's game. Or, it could just show that former Bulldog Dale Finucane ($286,000) has pipped Hinchcliffe to the lock spot. Tim Glasby ($203,000) had impressed in pre-season but only gets a bench spot while Jordan McLean ($280,000) starts in the front row alongside genuine Fantasy gun Jesse Bromwich ($444,000). Cooper Cronk ($426,000) and Billy Slater ($388,000) are both amongst the best scorers in their positions, while Tohu Harris ($301,000) may play big minutes in the back row after Ryan Hoffman's exit to the Warriors.
New NRL Fantasy database changes
Players added: Aaron Whitchurch (Broncos CTR/2RF), Agnatius Paasi (Titans FRF), Albert Vete (Warriors FRF)
New positions: Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors HLF/WFB), Clinton Gutherson (Sea Eagles WFB/CTR), Josh Hoffman (Titans WFB/CTR), Eddy Pettybourne (Titans 2RF/FRF ), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters CTR/WFB), Isaac Liu (Roosters FRF/2RF), George Jennings (Panthers CTR/WFB) , Edrick Lee (Raiders WFB/CTR) .