Scout Report: Round 24 Fantasy recap
First up, congratulations to those of you who are through to your head-to-head league's grand final. The NRL Fantasy gods must have smiled upon you as another crop of injuries struck for several stars on the weekend – ending the hopes of another group of Fantasy coaches in the process.
If you're out of the running, don't worry – NRL Finals Fantasy is coming up, with prizes up for grabs for each week leading up to the NRL Grand Final. Who will make your Fantasy team for the first week of the NRL finals?
Round 24 casualties
Every injury is massive for NRL Fantasy at this stage of the season, and there were a few more of them this week. Greg Inglis was the biggest name to succumb this week, having to undergo minor surgery on his right knee after injuring it against the Bulldogs on Friday. He'll be out for at least a week.
Meanwhile, Elijah Taylor's season is over after breaking his hand against the Dragons, Michael Morgan is in doubt with an ankle injury, James Tamou has been cleared of a serious neck injury but is still likely to spend some time on the sidelines after leaving the field in a minicab on Saturday.
The Roosters lost Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (ACL) for the season and Mitchell Pearce (hamstring) for 4-6 weeks, Matt Ballin won't be back for Manly in 2015 due to a torn ACL, Jacob Lillyman will miss the end of the season with a fractured cheekbone, and Greg Bird picked up a groin injury kicking off against the Raiders on Sunday.
Meanwhile Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has suggested he could rest players in the lead-up to the finals, while Michael Jennings, Ryan James and Joey Leilua all face possible suspensions this week.
A shocker from Gal
Paul Gallen was the most popular NRL Fantasy captain on the weekend, and for good reason – the 80-minute workhorse had averaged 68.4 Fantasy points over his previous five games and had scored less than 50 just once all season. So it was understandably disappointing when Gal saved his quietest performance of the year for Cronulla's clash with Wests Tigers. With a season-high four missed tackles and a season-low 159 metres (still not a bad return, to be fair), Gallen scored just 31 points in Fantasy.
Meanwhile the second-most popular captain in Fantasy, Corey Parker, produced a vintage 72 points in Brisbane's top-of-the-table clash with the Roosters, while Fantasy's top overall scorer in 2015 Simon Mannering scored 77.
The other key performer this week was Jake Friend, who proved to be the ideal replacement for Michael Lichaa with 74 points including 55 tackles – and will presumably continue to play 80 minutes with bench hooker Jackson Hastings now Mitchell Pearce's replacement at halfback.
Of the other popular Fantasy prospects, Johnathan Thurston (71), Trent Merrin (70), James Graham (64), Tui Lolohea (64), Daly Cherry-Evans (63), Andrew McCullough (61), Aidan Guerra (60), Brett Morris (59), Kade Snowden (59) and new Bulldogs hooker Damien Cook (62) were the week's big winners.