Rising stars at NRL clubs

KFC SuperCoach 2021: Rob Sutherland’s team

The KFC SuperCoach NRL 2021 Team Picker is live and that means only one thing - it's time to begin consciously uncoupling from friends and family to free up time to select, refresh and select again.

Our very own Tom Sangster-lite Rob Sutherland has been doing just that and so presents to you version 1.0 of his team for the upcoming season.

 

Team Picker for the 2020 season of KFCSuperCoach NRL is live - CLICK HERE

 

 

HOOKER

Damien Cook (HOK) $621,000 - I expect everyone to go mad about Harry - Grant that is - and so being the contrarian that I am I'll pivot (one of my least favourite 2020-isms) to the tried and tested Damien Cook from the Rabbitohs. Cook's average was down on his 2019 numbers (76PPG in 2019 but 70PPG in 2020) but his consistency was up (70% of games 60+ in 2020 as cf 61% in 2019). His tackle count was up and his run numbers bounced back, where he declined was try assist/linebreak assist - and as a Cody Walker owner I can attest that he was a mere fingernail on Walker away from at least two of each in 2020. Cheaper than Grant and I expect less popular, Cook feels a solid safe gun selection.

 

Jake Simpkin (HOK) $173,700 - The Wests Tigers are likely to roll with a dual-hooker rotation in 2021 with Jacob Liddle the lead and Simpkin his understudy. So why take the understudy you ask? In two words - upside and value. Simpkin prospects to be the more exciting with better attacking stat potential and he's around $70K cheaper than Liddle. Simpkin impressed through the junior ranks playing Qld under-18 Origin in 2019 (41 tackles, 86 running metres and a try) before COVID-19 restricted him to just one game of NSW Cup in 2020 (45 minutes with 26 tackles made, 32 running metres and a try assist).

 

 

 

 

 

FRONT ROW FORWARD

Payne Haas (FRF) $668,600 - Starting without Payne Haas was tempting because the $80/100K I saved by going with one of the Newcastle bookends (see below) was useful elsewhere. However, in the end I could not ignore the big man's outstanding reliability. In the 17 games Haas played in 2020 he scored under 60 points just twice (54 in round six and 55 in round 20) and he scored 80+ eight times. Just too good to start without.

 

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (FRF/2RF) $504,900 - Big Tino is one of the big name recruits by the Gold Coast Titans and as such I expect him to be given all the game time he can handle. And the young enforcer can handle plenty as he showed in making the jump from very limited minutes in 2019 (23MPG at 1.04PPM) to a mid-major role in 2020 (46MPG at 1.23PPM). There were plenty of attacking stats included with seven tries in 19 games and that does give me some cause for worry, but for now I have him in the team on upside and opportunity.

 

Christian Welch (FRF) $453,500 - Injury delayed Welch's start to the 2020 season and saw him play restricted minutes when he did return. But from round nine to round 20 Welch played 10 games (missing two due to a COVID quarantine breach) averaging 59.6PPG in 51.4MPG and in the final five games of that stretch he averaged 67.6PPG in 55.2MPG. Those are very close to keeper numbers for a mid-ranger price.

 

Stefano Utoikamanu (FRF) $186,800 - The young prop has had huge raps on him for a couple of years now. Was under-utilised at the Eels but now at the Wests Tigers I expect him to carve out a solid role and he should be a decent money maker.

 

 

Honourable mentions:

David Klemmer/Daniel Saifiti - Klemmer and Saifiti were superb over the first half of 2020 with Klemmer tackling everything in sight and chucking offloads seemingly at will. Saifiti has a lower workrate but makes up for it with nifty footwork at the line creating attacking stats. Both come at a hefty discount to Haas and would not look out of place leading your FRF.

 

 

Team Picker for the 2020 season of KFCSuperCoach NRL is live - CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND ROW FORWARD

Cameron McInnes (HOK/2RF) $676,200 - The Dragons did not have a great season in 2020, if they had not had McInnes tackling everything in the middle they would have had a worse one. Averaging a sensational 66PPG in base, McInnes is a tremendously safe option to start the season with. His DPP Hok/2RF eligibility is a big bonus for those, like me, who have started with just the one gun hooker as should Damien Cook go down injured you have the flexibility to draft in either a hooker as a direct replacement or shift McInnes to hooker and buy a gun 2RF.

 

Jason Taumalolo (2RF) $641,700 - Stopping Taumalolo from monstering the middle would no doubt be a pre-game focus of every team that plays the Cowboys, and yet no team can do it. A human wrecking ball, Taumalolo passed 8 metres with better than 80% of his runs in 2020 on his way to a fourth consecutive season averaging better than 70PPG. And Taumalolo did that despite being injured in round 15 and on a minutes restriction upon his return in round 19, if you excise those two games from his season average 'Lolo' averaged 77PPG.

 

 

David Fifita (2RF) $569,900 - The other big name Gold Coast recruit to make my initial squad, Fifita is the sort of player I tend to avoid early in a season. Not on ability, Fifita has that in spades, but rather I tend to prefer starting the season with base stat monsters and Fifita and his 40PPG base from 76MPG is not that. Rather, Fifita is a destructive force, an edge second rower who terrorises centres and halves defending against him piling up tackle busts and linebreaks. I've tried to embrace more risk for reward with this team and Fifita is a large part of that.

 

Corey Horsburgh (FRF/2RF) $445,100 - I originally had Englishman Luke Thompson listed at this spot but thankfully a reader reminded me that Thompson is suspended for the opening four rounds of the 2021 season. So to avoid having to completely rip the team apart at this stage - and to maintain my quota of redheads - I will pivot to Corey Horsburgh. 'Horse' was superb in the middle for the Raiders in the opening rounds of 2020 averaging 56PPG of which 49PPG came in base and a rather excellent 6PPG came in offloads. Able to cover lock, prop and at a pinch second-row I'm not sure where Horsburgh will play in 2021 but provided he has fully recovered from the foot injury which ended his season just seven rounds into 2020 I'm confident the young bull will get the minutes rewuired to make an impact. Luckily Horburgh is a similar price to Thompson and also has DPP 2RF/FRF which works handily with Fa'asuamaleaui above.

 

Shawn Blore (2RF) $210,500 - Little bit of a placeholder this one. Blore is an impressive young player, but his NSW Cup stats are just good not great and his stats in five games off the interchange bench where he averaged 26PPG in 26MPG are, again, good but not great. However, there are whispers Blore might nab the vacant right edge at the Tigers and were that to happen he would be very popular indeed.

 

Zac Saddler (2RF/FRF) $173,700

A tall versatile forward in the Shaun Lane mould, Saddler can play edge or middle. His NSW Cup stats were good but it was playing on an edge for the Indigenous All-Stars that Saddler really announced himself running for 83 metres, with 34 tackles (none missed), two offloads and two tackle busts in 60 minutes. The Sea Eagles have a good stock of middle forwards, but not much in the way of edges with Jack Gosiewski and new recruit Andrew Davey seemingly competing to fill the shoes of Joel Thompson. I expect we'll see a fair bit of Saddler in first grade in 2021 - and the DPP doesn't hurt either.

 

Honourable mentions:

Ryan Matterson - the decision between Matterson and McInnes was a tight one. Matterson has more attacking stats in him, but he also has some concussion issues and I do like the flexibility McInnes gives me should something happen to Cook.

Joseph Tapine/Adam Elliott - a couple of $540K area forwards that I gave plenty of thought to. In the end I couldn't be sure where Tapine's minutes fall in a full-strength Canberra pack while Elliott was very impressive before he was injured in 2020 but I want to see him repeat that in 2021 before jumping on.

 

 

New Titans recruit David Fifita has huge SuperCoach upside. Picture: Nigel Hallett
New Titans recruit David Fifita has huge SuperCoach upside. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

 

MORE SUPERCOACH:

KFC SuperCoach NRL 2021 Cheapie Bible

KFC SuperCoach NRL: 21 players set to shine in 2021

SuperCoach club-by-club guide to transfer madness

KFC SuperCoach NRL transfer guide - Part 2

Strength of schedule: SuperCoach draw analysis

Tom Sangster reveals his team for 2021

 

 

 

 

 

HALFBACK

Nathan Cleary (HFB) $734,300 - I doubt even Cleary can replicate his incredible 2020 heroics which saw him finish with an average of 83PPG. Yet even if his average drops 5 points he'll still likely finish 10 points clear of the next best at the position. A true stat stuffer, the only statistical category in which Cleary led his position in 2020 was forced drop outs; but he's right near the top in pretty much every other category and that's why he finished a whopping 14.8PPG clear of his next best (Shaun Johnson) by PPG and scored 204 points more than the next best for total points (Daly Cherry-Evans) despite playing two fewer games than DCE.

 

Sam Walker (HFB) $173,700 - The Roosters rookie probably won't play in round one, but I am confident he will play sooner rather than later in 2021 and I just hope that when he does get his chance he is given time to find his feet. Because 1. SuperCoach (I want a price increase) and 2. Roosters fan (in case my annoying arrogance had not made that clear already).

 

 

Honourable mentions:

Daly Cherry-Evans - The only other halfback I toyed with selecting. The $160K discount on Cleary can go a long way to upgrading another position and Cherry-Evans has been a picture of consistency averaging 62, 62, 62 and 64 from 2017-2020, but Cleary has averaged 70, 62, 68 and 83 over that period so …

Jayden Sullivan - The St George rookie got one game in 2020, the last one the Dragons played, and his 58 point effort against the Storm included 39 in base. Sullivan's only a little guy but he's all heart, and there's ability to go with the bravery which makes him an intriguing SuperCoach prospect. If Sullivan does win a starting halves spot I'll need to find the money to upgrade Walker to him.

 

 

Team Picker for the 2020 season of KFCSuperCoach NRL is live - CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

FIVE-EIGHTH

Chanel Harris-Tavita (HFB|5/8) $425,900 - A big gamble this, but I'm a believer in CHT and here's why. Having been flipped and flopped between half, five-eighth and bench utility in 2019 and early 2020, Harris-Tavita was given the chance to show his halfback chops from round 13 2020. And in the seven games he played (he missed round 15 due to concussion) at halfback to close the season CHT averaged a stellar 65PPG. A handy goal kicker who has a solid base and averaged almost an offload and a forced dropout per game over said seven-game span Harris-Tavita is my (now not so) sneaky POD pick of the pre-season.

 

Josh Schuster (5/8) $203,100 - A little bit of a placeholder this one. Schuster was very impressive in his debut game against the Wests Tigers but his game was cut short by an ankle injury and the club has recruited Kieran Foran to play five-eighth. I may need to go hunting for a replacement closer to round one.

 

Honourable mentions:

Cody Walker/Cameron Munster - The clear benchmarks at the position, it feels odd to start 2021 without one of these guns.

 

 

CENTRE/WING

Valentine Holmes (CTW/FLB) $509,400 - I normally don't like to stump up for a premium centre to start the season but think Holmes at this price represents value. 2020 was a rough year for the Cowboys' star recruit, struggling in his return to rugby league after his stint in the NFL. But with a proper off-season under his belt 2021 could be the year we see Holmes back to his best. With four tries, nine try assists, seven line breaks, 10 line break assists and three SuperCoach scores above 90, we certainly saw glimpses of his best in 2021, and with the goal kicking duties as well there is a lot of value to be had in Holmes. It's also worth noting that his initially poor base stats surged toward the end of the year as he returned from injury at fullback, with four straight games of 27+ points in base.

 

Charlie Staines (CTW/FLB) $297,700 - The $130K price bump on a true rookie is unwelcome, but Staines will start in my team provided he does, as expected, oust Josh Mansour for the left wing position at the Panthers. Of course Brent Naden's issues may see him play right wing and Penrith find it in their hearts to retain Mansour - either way a starting wing in the most exciting attacking team in the competition for sub-$300K still represents value.

 

 

Corey Oates, a backrow gun? Picture: Annette Dew
Corey Oates, a backrow gun? Picture: Annette Dew

 

 

Corey Oates (2RF/CTW) $245,500 - I'm not sold on the 'Oates is a big body so can handle second-row' storyline, but that does appear to be where he will be battling for selection in 2021. Oates started three games in the backrow in 2020 and he averaged 48PPG (35BPPG) in 64MPG. Those are not amazing numbers but they certainly represent value at his starting price. If Oates impresses in the off-season and is named to start in round one he's in my squad.

 

Bailey Simonsson (CTW) $205,000 - The Raiders will require a left wing to replace Nick Cotric (Bulldogs) and Simonsson would appear to be the frontrunner for that role. Injury limited Simonsson to seven games in 2020 and said injuries (along with selection as a bench player with limited minutes) limited his average to just 23PPG. I think 2019, in which he averaged 38PPG across 18 games, gives us a better sense of Simonsson's value and therefore the price is right.

 

Max Feagai (CTW) $203,100 - The Dragons' outside backs situation is pretty messy with only Matt Dufty (fullback) and Zac Lomax (centre) seemingly assured of selection for round one. Feagai is right in the mix for one of the remaining spots and at his price I hope he gets one.

 

Haze Dunster (CTW) $173,700 - Bit of a throw at the stumps here. Parramatta need a centre due to Michael Jennings' suspension for failing a doping test and while new recruit Tom Opacic appears to be the frontrunner for the job, it would be great for me, and you, if Dunster won the role.

 

 

There’s no loyalty in SuperCoach, and there’s no Siosifa Talakai in the first draft of Rob’s SuperCoach team. Picture: Phil Hillyard
There’s no loyalty in SuperCoach, and there’s no Siosifa Talakai in the first draft of Rob’s SuperCoach team. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

Honourable mentions:

Siosifa Talakai - Having fought so hard for Talakai to keep his DPP status it seems perverse to not select him. However, after my 2020 man crush went full beast mode playing 60+ minutes in eight of his last nine games of the season, his SuperCoach value hinges on where he is selected to play to start 2021. If Talakai nabs a starting spot on the edge I'll find a way to fit him in, if he is on the interchange bench it's hard to justify the price.

Brian Kelly - Only 5 CTW-eligible players have averaged 55+ across both 2019 and 2020. Kelly is one of them - the others are David Nofoaluma, Daniel Tupou, Latrell Mitchell and Brian To'o. The Titan has a very SuperCoach friendly game and is underrated so makes a good POD.

 

Team Picker for the 2020 season of KFCSuperCoach NRL is live - CLICK HERE

 

 

FULLBACK

Ryan Papenhuyzen (FLB) $629,000 - Paps got off to a slow start in 2020, in my eye struggling to gel with Cam Munster. But things started to click from round seven onwards and in the eleven games he played from that point on Papenhuyzen averaged 84PPG exceeding 100 points five times. He's not quite Teddy class yet, but Papenhuyzen's not far away and he is $200K cheaper hence the selection.

 

Tom Trbojevic (FLB) $593,500 - Tommy Turbo at his best is a thing of SuperCoach beauty, capable of punching out triple-figure boomers with ease and possessing a floor of around 70 points. At his worst, he's injured and you're left watching those who took a safer less injury prone fullback pull away from you on the leaderboard. Trbojevic is cheap at a 67PPG average as 2017-19 he averaged near enough 10PPG better and the faster game under the 'six again' rule application is custom built for a work hungry fullback like him.

 

 

Honourable mentions:

James Tedesco - The fullback class of 2020 was elite, and yet Tedesco still averaged 15PPG better than the best of the rest. But, Teddy's opening price of $843K is just too much for me to find at the start of the season and so I'll be hoping he averages 'just' 70PPG for the opening 6-8 weeks at which point I'll pounce

 

Originally published as KFC SuperCoach 2021: Rob Sutherland's team


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