Scout Report: Round 13 teams wrap
The team changes, injury news and NRL Fantasy form guide of the 14 clubs in action in Round 13 of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
Storm: Jesse Bromwich is back, with Jordan McLean benched and Mark Nicholls dropping out of the side. Cameron Munster looms as a popular buy this week, despite a last-start score of just 31. Before that he scored 47, 62 and 51 and with dual-position status and Melbourne's good bye schedule (they play in both the next two major bye rounds) Munster could be a handy third half and back-up WFB. Tohu Harris is an interesting prospect for the same reason, although his price is likely to slide after back-to-back 43s. Those worried about Cameron Smith as a captaincy option should keep in mind he played 80 minutes at club level in the rounds following all three Origin games last season, although a blowout against the Knights could potentially see him rested late in the game.
Knights: Nathan Ross and Josh Starling return and Mitchell Barnett and Luke Yates are named to start, with Sam Stone and Jacob Saifiti named on the bench and Brendan Elliot and the injured Jack Stockwell dropping out. After scores of 50 (in 60 minutes) and 57 (in 55 minutes) Daniel Saifiti has emerged as a potential POD buy in the front row at just $350,000, although his average is still a mid-range 36. Sione Mata'utia looks a keeper in the centres if he can stay injury-free.
Eels: Nathan Brown has been named to return from his ribs injury at lock, although that was also the case this time last week and he was a late withdrawal 24 hours before kick-off. Those who picked up Manu Ma'u (58) or Semi Radradra (41) for their bye coverage last week were rewarded handsomely first up, and the Eels are still a valuable team to recruit players from for overall points.
Warriors: Solomone Kata's return from injury in the centres means cash cow Charnze Nicoll-Klockstad is the man to drop out of the side, even with Manu Vatuvei still unavailable. Shaun Johnson continues to lead the way for Fantasy halves in 2017, coming off a season-high 75, while Simon Mannering is his usual self with reliable scores in the mid-50s. Issac Luke made 57 in an excellent performance last week but unlike the leading Fantasy hookers he does still need attacking stats to score well. Bodene Thompson's scoring is stuck around the 40-point mark and he could be someone to upgrade at some point, although his price has bottomed out.
Dragons: Blues duo Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell have been left out of St George Illawarra's preliminary 17 this week, but are in the reserves so could still come into the side. Jason Nightingale is named to start at fullback and Tariq Sims in the back row at this stage. With cash cow hooker Jayden Brailey taking the week off with the Sharks' bye expect Cameron McInnes to be a popular trade target for Round 13. Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan have seen their already high Fantasy stocks improve further after missing the NSW Origin 17 for Game One, while Tim Lafai's 76 in Round 11 boosted his season average above the 40-point mark - making him a potential keeper at centre.
Wests Tigers: A day after officially arriving at the club Tuimoala Lolohea is named to start at five-eighth alongside Jack Littlejohn, while Josh Aloiai (knee injury) and Sauaso Sue (suspension are out) and Ava Seumanufagai and Chris Lawrence are back. James Tedesco is surely due a big game after having several tries disallowed in recent weeks, although David Nofoaluma still has him covered for scoring so far this season. Tui Lolohea is the new signing and will play five-eighth this season and fullback next year, but at $237,000 he's neither a keeper nor a real cash cow.
Roosters: The return of five Origin players means there's quite a reshuffle at the Roosters, including Mitchell Aubusson's return to the back row. Jake Friend produced a massive 82 last week, including a try, in the absence of the Roosters' Origin guns and rewarded those who gambled on bringing him in for the bye rounds. Expect his scoring to drop - both in terms of kick metres and tackles - with the team back at full strength. Michael Gordon is scoring like a keeper at the back while Mitchell Pearce is challenging Shaun Johnson as the year's best Fantasy half.
Broncos: The calvary is set to return with all six of Brisbane's Maroons stars named to back up from Origin, and Andrew McCullough is also back from concussion. Expect to see McCullough's minutes and scores dip a little with Kodi Nikorima playing as a second hooker off the interchange, while Nikorima himself is a sell with his time in the starting side over for now. Ben Hunt has a break even in the 60s and could be excellent value in a week or two. James Roberts has been the best centre in Fantasy this year but only managed 40 despite scoring two tries last week (after making an error-free 53 with no tries the previous round).
Cowboys: Unchanged. Johnathan Thurston has only made the extended bench but could still be a late inclusion. With a season average close to 64 Jason Taumalolo is looking more and more like a must-have this season, although his price could top $550,000 if he has another big game this round. Coen Hess hasn't scored more than 42 since Round 6.
Titans: No changes for the Gold Coast this week apart from a switch between lock Leivaha Pulu and bench forward Morgan Boyle. Jarryd Hayne is set for his fourth NRL game at centre so will become a dual-position player next week assuming he plays there as named. Jarrod Wallace has had a quiet few weeks Fantasy-wise but is still a likely keeper.
Sea Eagles: No changes for Manly from the team that beat the Titans a fortnight ago. Jake Trbojevic and Martin Taupau are both scoring in the mid-50s this season, with Trbojevic threatening to hit the century in his last game.
Raiders: Josh Papalii returns in the back row in place of Luke Bateman (thumb, 1-2 weeks) in Canberra's only change. Joey Leilua might not be back yet but Jordan Rapana is, with last week's 86 taking his season average to a superb 52. Elliott Whitehead is only averaging 40 for the season but last week's no-frills 47 shows he can still produce regular 50s once he starts getting attacking stats again. Jarrod Croker is proving to be a rare consistent centre with three straight scores in the 40s while Nick Cotric may have just about peaked after a superb $221,000 in price rises.
Bulldogs: James Graham is named to play despite last week's neck/shoulder injury, and Canterbury's Origin trio are expected to back up as well. Adam Elliott is developing from underpriced bye-round cover to genuine scorer after back-to-back 50s. Aiden Tolman is enjoying a good run of form but beware last week's 63 came from an 80-minute performance after Graham was injured, so it won't happen most weeks. Graham himself has had rotten luck with injuries and head knocks recently and will be sensational value in the next few weeks.
Panthers: Plenty of changes here with Peter Wallace and Bryce Cartwright out injured, Josh Mansour and Isaah Yeo returning and Matt Moylan moving into the halves with Dylan Edwards at fullback. Mitch Rein is Wallace's replacement at hooker. Trent Merrin is back, averaging 68 in his last three games, and he's still $86,000 under his starting price. Nathan Cleary is even cheaper and also on the way up, while Mansour has been a Fantasy keeper in the past.