Scout Report: Round 15 teams wrap
The second of the major bye rounds has come and gone, with head-to-head NRL Fantasy leagues back in action this weekend and a host of the game's stars backing up from Origin II.
The Sea Eagles, Panthers, Sharks and Dragons have now had both their buys, making their non-Origin players handy pickups from now on. With the Rabbitohs and Eels enjoying a week off with the bye, here's how the rest of the NRL sides are shaping up heading into Round 15 of the Telstra Premiership season.
Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers
Sea Eagles: Jamie Lyon is out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, while Justin Horo has copped a one-week suspension. Peta Hiku shifts to centre, with Tom Trbojevic named on the wing and Tom Symonds in the back row. Daly Cherry-Evans is the top half in Fantasy this season, just ahead of Queensland halves partner Johnathan Thurston. Blake Leary has actually been Manly's next best scorer, and at $288,000 his price is still on the rise with a break even of 13.
Wests Tigers: A week after getting dual-position status as a prop/second-rower in Fantasy, Sauaso Sue is out with a shoulder injury, with Aaron Woods slotting back into the pack. Robbie Farah has not been named to back up from Origin II. Chris Lawrence is set to be a dual-position player next week after his fourth game starting in the back row. Martin Taupau could be a keeper after last week's heroics against Souths, while Aaron Woods and James Tedesco – who is averaging 75 points over his past three games – are amongst the best Fantasy options in their positions.
Raiders v Cowboys
Raiders: No changes for Canberra, who blitzed the Knights a fortnight ago and will back themselves against a Cowboys side with a few stars coming off Origin II. Despite his minutes being cut this season, Shaun Fensom is still the fourth best second-rower in Fantasy behind Corey Parker, Simon Mannering and Paul Gallen. Iosia Soliola has jumped exactly $200,000 in price this year and is the best option to have in your centres. Josh Papalii is a decent point-of-difference option in the forward pack at $405,000.
Cowboys: Ray Thompson is out with a fractured cheekbone, with Rory Kostjasyn replacing him on the bench. Johnathan Thurston is averaging 73 across his past three games as the Cowboys just keep winning, while Lachlan Coote has been one of the season's real success stories. Michael Morgan is the most expensive winger/fullback option in Fantasy (also available in the halves), having scored seven tries in his past five games.
Titans v Warriors
Titans: Cheapie Lachlan Burr has been bumped to the bench with Nate Myles returning at prop and Eddy Pettybourne taking the lock role. Dave Taylor has been named 18th man. Daniel Mortimer has been named hooker with every specialist dummy half at the club in the casualty ward, although new recruit Chad Redman from the Knights could be a late inclusion. James Roberts is a keeper in the backline based on his attacking stats alone, while another 50 from Ryan James will delay the axe again in a lot of Fantasy squads.
Warriors: Sam Lisone has a back injury and Jonathan Wright has been dropped after a game to forget last week, with Origin forwards Ryan Hoffman and Jacob Lillyman returning and Siliva Havili joining the bench to bump Albert Vete to 18th man. Simon Mannering has been unbelievably consistent this year and is a safe captaincy choice over the Origin period. Solomone Kata's stocks keep rising and he's a borderline keeper in the centres.
Bulldogs v Panthers
Bulldogs: After grumbling about the Origin schedule following his team's defeat on the weekend Des Hasler has left all his Origin players out of this week's team list, but don't be surprised if one or all of them make the side by Saturday night. Michael Lichaa is still scoring strongly at hooker and worth holding until there are strong signs his minutes will drop. James Graham is expected to spend three more weeks on the sideline through injury.
Panthers: Jamie Soward is back from his shoulder injury and Nigel Plum joins the bench, with Josh Mansour still seemingly another week away along with Api Koroisau and Brent Kite. James Segeyaro could be a trade target this week after Nathan Peats' injury. Elijah Taylor remains a safe option in the back row.
Knights v Sharks
Knights: Joey Leilua has left the club, presumably bound for Canberra, with Dane Gagai slotting back into the centres, Kurt Gidley back to fullback and Tyrone Roberts fit again and wearing the No.7. David Fa'alogo and Jack Stockwell are injured – with a bicep injured ruling out Stockwell for the season – with Queensland Origin squad player Korbin Sims starting at prop and Chris Houston at lock. Gagai had scored well at the back and could be a keeper if he can continue that form at centre, while Kade Snowden remains a 50-point keeper at prop.
Sharks: Ricky Leutele replaces Blake Ayshford in Cronulla's only change. Andrew Fifita will be a popular trade this week, with an average of almost 59 and with the Sharks having got both of their byes out of the way. He does have a break even in the 70s though, so there's a good chance his lofty $487,000 price tag will come down next week. Waiting until the end of Origin is a safer time to pick up Paul Gallen.
Storm v Broncos
Storm: Melbourne's Origin trio Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Will Chambers have been named to return, despite rumours about Slater facing shoulder surgery. Rookie Richard Kennar keeps his job on the wing. With Nathan Peats and Issac Luke on the sidelines, it'll be tempting for even overall points Fantasy coaches to snap up Cameron Smith this week. Tohu Harris played in the forwards, scored a try and kicked a few goals last week for his second-best score of the year, and is still on track to be a keeper.
Broncos: Like the Storm, Brisbane have named three extra players as cover on the bench with all their Origin players included in the top 17 – although Sam Thaiday will start from the bench. Andrew McCullough has averaged 57.5 this season and is a genuine rival to Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and James Segeyaro in the key hooker position, while Ben Hunt and Corey Parker are the other guaranteed keepers at Brisbane.
Dragons v Roosters
Dragons: Joel Thompson is out with a knee injury, with Will Matthews starting in his place and Jake Marketo joining the bench. With a break even of 78, Tyson Frizell could drop below $400,000 in the next couple of weeks despite averaging 53 this year. Euan Aitken has jumped $165,000 in value this year but remains a handy keeper in the back five.
Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is again out with his calf injury, while the Tricolours' Origin quartet have been named to return. Sio Siua Taukeiaho was huge for the under-strength Roosters last week, playing the full 80, but is back to the bench with Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra returning. Jake Friend is averaging 54 and is a genuine option at hooker.