NRL.com's resident NRL Fantasy guru the Lone Scout answers the big questions heading into the opening round of the Telstra Premiership season.
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- Round 1 NRL team lists
- NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 1
- NRL Late Mail: Round 1
- NRL Fantasy Podcast: Spotting the round one bargains
Damien Cook: will the chap play the full 80?
From Benjamin Cole
Yep, this week at least, but the signs are good long-term. Get him.
Is Robbie Rochow a decent buy if he can hold that back row spot at the Tigers?
From Te Rangihau Caleb Whiu
Yes, but that is a big "if". Chris McQueen and Sauaso Sue are returning from injury for Western Suburbs in the Intust Super Premiership this week and could break into the starting pack, especially if the Tigers struggle early on (and with an opening month of games against the Roosters, Storm, Broncos, Eels and Storm again, that's a big chance of happening). If Rochow can hold onto a starting spot he'll be great value considering his break even of 21, but beware the risk is there that his stint in the starting side could be shortlived.
Will Siua Taukeiaho be made dual position from being named starting prop?
From Logan McIndoe
Yes, he's one of several players who has been made dual position this week. New dual position players are:
Sio Siua Taukeiaho 2RF/FRF
Viliame Kikau FRF/2RF
Greg Inglis WFB/CTR
Mark Nicholls 2RF/FRF
Brad Takairangi CTR/2RF
Jai Arrow 2RF/FRF
Further dual position updates will happen this season after round six, round 12 and round 18.
Will Cameron Munster be available at fullback/winger since he's playing in Jersey No.1?
From Jordan Donald
No. The reasoning here is he's essentially a short-term fill-in player at fullback covering for Billy Slater, who is expected back as soon as next week. The same call was made last season for Elliott Whitehead, who wasn't given dual position status when he filled in at centre at Canberra for the first two rounds and then never played centre again.
Reckon Connor Watson goes from half to hooker when Brock Lamb comes on for Newcastle and plays the 80?
From David Watts
It's hard to predict what exactly the Knights are going to do with their interchange this week. It's certainly a possibility that Watson spends some time at hooker, although it's hard to see him playing the full 80 minutes if that's the case. Newcastle also have Jamie Buhrer who can spend some time at hooker when starting No.9 Slade Griffin gets a rest. Watson's Fantasy prospects would be better if Brock Lamb was nowhere near the Knights side – while Lamb is around there's the chance he could earn a promotion into the starting side at five-eighth and bump Watson to the bench, where he would be a more natural utility player than Lamb. It'll be intriguing to see how both Watson and Lamb perform in the opening rounds.
Are there any cheapies who haven't been named in Round 1 teams that are worth having in the squad now anyway to save a later trade?
From Nic Frankpitt
Not this year. The strategy of attempting to grab the mid-season cash cows before round one is always a gamble but especially so these days with Fantasy squads shrinking to 21 players. You're going to want all of those eight reserves at your disposal to be decent back-up options if one of your starting 13 goes down injured for a week or two.
My main POD has been dropped (David Nofoaluma) and my next best are Cherry-Evans (4.6% ownership) and Tohu Harris (5.4% ownership). I'm worried my team is too typical seeing as all but five of my players are above 15%, so should I look for another POD or keep as many of the current cheapie cash cows in my squad as possible?
From Lachlan Smith
I'm not sold on the whole "POD" approach to picking a Fantasy squad, especially at the start of a season. For those new to Fantasy, POD = "point of difference" – players who aren't in many other Fantasy teams who could give your side an edge on the competition. (See the full list of Fantasy lingo you need to know here.) That makes sense late in the season if you need to close the gap on the league leaders, but at the start of the year I reckon you should try to forget PODs and just pick the players you think will score the best, regardless of who else has them. It's the trades you make from round two onwards that will separate the best Fantasy teams from the rest.
What's Cameron Murray doing on the Rabbitohs bench? This a permanent thing? Or is he being eased back because of injury?
From Callan Langer
Murray is capable of playing big minutes (and scoring plenty of Fantasy points) in South Sydney's starting pack so it does look like he's being eased back from injury, and cheap prop Mark Nicholls could be the guy to make way if and when Murray does get back in the starting side – assuming Sam Burgess shifts into the front row to leave Murray a spot a lock. So you could gamble and get Murray into your side now on the hope it happens sooner rather than later, but with a lot of good value players available in the second row the safer bet is to look elsewhere.
Scout, Aubo starting at 2RF. Is this a trap for beginners?
From Tam Hy
You know it is. Mitchell Aubusson is one of the most versatile players around, but his ability to cover spots in the backline in the case of an injury is why he's so frustrating as an NRL Fantasy buy. Theoretically, if Aubusson plays 80 minutes in the second row every week he's good value. But in practice he always spends half a dozen games (or at least parts of games) stuck in the centres, where his Fantasy scores dry up.
New Fantasy coaches need to be aware of the Mitchell Aubusson Rule – never buy Mitchell Aubusson.
(In saying all that, who knows – could finally be his year?)
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