All the key team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide heading into round three of the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.
NRL Fantasy team news
Broncos v Dragons, Thursday 7.05pm (8.05pm AEDT) at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: No changes for Brisbane after their win over the Cowboys. Jack Bird is flying with $99,000 in price rises so far, and an average above 50 after two rounds. Even with the glut of quality centre options this season he should probably be in more than 40% of teams. Thomas Flegler ($249k) is a very interesting option after last week's 54, although game time could be questionable when Matt Lodge and Payne Haas are available.
Dragons: Korbin Sims replaces Josh Kerr on the bench in Paul McGregor's only change – meaning cheapies Jacob Host and Blake Lawrie keep their starting spots in the back row. Mikaele Ravalawa followed up a 10-tackle-break 38 with a zero-tackle-break 9 against Souths, and if he has a similar score this week he'll lose cash. Host is also at risk of stalling after making 18 tackles and five missed tackles in 61 minutes, after a 38-tackle haul against the Cowboys in round one. It's much better news for Lawrie after scores of 50 and 43, and $90k in price rises so far.
Top 5 Fantasy money makers
Raiders v Knights, Friday 6pm at GIO Stadium
Raiders: With Joseph Tapine (thumb) sidelined, Ryan Sutton starts at lock with Fantasy gun John Bateman switching to an edge. Twenty-year-old forward Hudson Young is named to debut off the bench. After two scores in the 40s Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is threatening to become a keeper at the back, while Bateman finished with -14 in demerits against the Storm (primarily via six missed tackles) and still scored 49.
Knights: Unchanged. David Klemmer's great start to 2019 continued with a second straight 50+ score, while Sione Matau'tia and Lachlan Fitzgibbon haven't got going yet and Connor Watson looks a sell after scoring 18 and 8. Kalyn Ponga's price slide after two sub-par scores could make him a tempting option if he returns to the fullback role this year.
Eels v Roosters, Friday 8.05pm at ANZ Stadium
Eels: Michael Jennings returns from suspension at centre and Josh Hoffman moves back to the reserves. A try helped Dylan Brown to 48 points on Sunday but his defensive game (49 tackles and just one missed tackle so far) is giving him a base that's much safer than other cheap halves – *cough* Adam Keighran *cough*. Reed Mahoney has two scores in the 50s (thanks to two line breaks, a try and an assist) in two games and is more than doing his job as a cash cow, even without getting 80 minutes. Maika Sivo's edging towards a decent score but really needs a try.
Roosters: Star duo Cooper Cronk and Jake Friend return from injury, while Matthew Ikuvalu replaces the injured Brett Morris (knee). Angus Crichton moves back to the bench where his price tag will keep sliding (if he's not a late inclusion in the starting side on game day). Lindsay Collins and Lachlan Lam drop out. James Tedesco (-$95k) and Latrell Mitchell (-$52k) are getting cheaper for those who don't have them, but as proven guns remain holds if you do. Keep in mind both the Roosters' games have been played in the wet so the outside backs haven't had as many attacking opportunities as they could have. Victor Radley's score (33) didn't improve markedly as Friend's replacement at hooker on Saturday, while the Mitchell Aubusson Rule ("never buy Mitchell Aubusson") hopefully warned you off copping his 16 points in the centres last round.
Top 5 Fantasy reality checks
Sea Eagles v Warriors, Saturday 5pm local (3pm AEDT) at Christchurch Stadium
Sea Eagles: Fantasy gun Tom Trbojevic returns in place of Brendan Elliot and Addin Fonua-Blake is back from suspension, bumping Toafofoa Sipley to the bench and Kelepi Tanginoa to the reserves. Curtis Sironen is named despite copping a head knock last week. Jake Trbojevic (63) and Daly Cherry-Evans (75) lived up to their keeper status on Saturday while Martin Taupau (61) made the most of a minutes boost in the absence of the suspended Fonua-Blake. Cash cow Reuben Garrick (33) was much improved against the Roosters including a quality try assist.
Warriors: Unchanged. Isaiah remains on the bench where he only played 25 minutes last week, but starting lock Lachlan Burr didn't get many minutes either with 32. Adam Keighran is a hold despite a very ordinary round two score of 13. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (28) was quiet last week but like Keighran could bounce back against a beatable Manly side.
Cowboys v Sharks, Saturday 4.30pm (5.30pm AEDT) at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Jake Clifford is the big new inclusion, pushing Te Maire Martin to fullback and Jordan Kahu to centre. Ben Hampton is also back in the centres, with Justin O'Neill and Tom Opacic making way. Coen Hess starts with Jason Taumalolo (knee) sidelined for six to 10 weeks, and Corey Jensen is the new man on the bench. Michael Morgan has been hampered with an arm injury but has been named to play. With all the focus on Taumalolo and new signing Josh McGuire, Jordan McLean has gone under the radar but is the only Cowboy averaging 50 after two rounds. Jordan Kahu improved on his first-up score with 33 against his old club Brisbane, including a try, and his price should continue ticking upwards.
Sharks: No changes. Sosaia Feki is named despite an injury cloud, with Bronson Xerri among the reserves. Briton Nikora is an early shout for buy of the season after scores of 61 and 66, and has scored very well with and without the ball. His price has climbed by $155,000 in two weeks and he's got a break even of -30. Andrew Fifita was the second-most popular captain last round behind Damien Cook but "only" managed 53, while Shaun Johnson got his groove back with 61 in the win over the Titans.
Top 5 Fantasy scorers
Panthers v Storm, Saturday 7.35pm at Carrington Park
Panthers: Josh Mansour is back on the wing, while Frank Winterstein starts in place of Isaah Yeo (concussion) and Tyrell Fuimaono joins the bench. Nathan Cleary has been solid if unspectacular to start the season, averaging 45, with James Fisher-Harris Penrith's most reliable score after starting the year with 57 and 61. Dylan Edwards (35) was much improved in round two while cheapie Hame Sele (21) wasn't troubled by his round one arm injury.
Storm: No changes, with Joe Stimson (back) still at least a week away. Cameron Smith remains captain fantastic, scoring 68, and is the standout buy in this Melbourne side.
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs, Sunday 4.05pm at Campbelltown Stadium
Wests Tigers: No changes for the unbeaten Tigers. Robbie Farah is on fire, smashing out scores of 76 and 79 in a fortnight that featured three tries, three try assists, two line breaks and 79 tackles. Take out those attacking plays and he's averaging just under 50 in base stats (tackles, run metres, kick metres). Alex Twal scored 62 in 54 minutes on Sunday – almost double his round one effort in similar game time – while Ryan Matterson has hit 51 twice and Luke Garner is in the "must have" cash cows list.
Bulldogs: Dean Pay has rung the changes, with Nick Meaney in at fullback, Jayden Okunbor debuting on the wing, Will Hopoate at centre, Corey Harawira-Naera starting, and Ofahiki Ogden, Chris Smith and 2018 Fantasy star Rhyse Martin joining the bench. Christian Crichton, Marcelo Montoya, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Danny Fualalo and Sauaso Sue drop out of the 17. Dylan Napa gave his price tag a massive boost with a strong 62 (including a try) against Parramatta. Promisingly his role is already looking significantly larger at the Dogs than it was at the Roosters; his 182 metres on Sunday topped all his hauls from the past two seasons, including the 11 occasions when he played more minutes than he did against the Eels.
Inglis yet to make call on facing Titans
Rabbitohs v Titans, Sunday 6.10pm at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Unchanged, although Greg Inglis is in some doubt with a shoulder problem. Sam Burgess's switch to an edge is working a treat so far, with the English superstar scoring three tries in two weeks and generally wreaking havoc against the Dragons on the way to 83 points. Cameron Murray (56) also has a try in both games so far this season, Damien Cook (63) is still awesome and Braidon Burns (65) is probably the best buy at Souths this season, earning $84,000 in price rises so far and looking a keeper in either outside back position.
Titans: No changes for the Gold Coast. After managing "only" 46 in 55 minutes in round one Jai Arrow showed just what he's capable of against the Sharks, racking up 290 metres and seven tackle busts for 81 points in 70 minutes. It's a monster score considering he didn't get across the tryline, and he's a genuine captaincy option against the Rabbitohs. Bryce Cartwright is playing big minutes but not getting big scores off the bench, while Nathan Peats is averaging 50 points in 80 minutes so far.