Key changes in teams
22 March, 2018, 12:00 am
The key team changes and Fantasy form guide for all 16 NRL clubs heading into the third round of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season.
Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys today at AAMI Park
Storm: No changes. Cameron Smith “only” scored 44 last week with none of Melbourne’s players excelling in a surprising loss to the Tigers in Billy Slater’s 300th game. Nelson Asofa-Solomona has made a solid start to the season and is making cash but Brodie Croft isn’t after two scores in the low 20s and is one the chopping board for a lot of Fantasy sides this week.
Cowboys: Michael Morgan has been named to return, with Te Maire Martin moving to the bench and Corey Jensen bumped out of the side. Coen Hess is in the starting side with Ethan Lowe back to the bench. After a quiet season opener Fantasy-wise, Johnathan Thurston bounced back in a big way against the Broncos with three try assists and 70 Fantasy points, while it was Jason Taumalolo’s turn to be relatively quiet with 38.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Penrith Panthers tomorrow at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: After two losses Canterbury have made some interesting changes, with Matt Frawley dropped and Jeremy Marshall-King taking his place at five-eighth. Marshall-King is pretty much base price at $226,000 but his job security in the starting side isn’t guaranteed long-term with Frawley in the squad. Aiden Tolman gets a start at lock with Adam Elliott moving to the bench. Josh Jackson is known for his defence but came up with a couple of line breaks and a try against the Roosters for 66 points, while 34 points was enough to earn Raymond Faitala-Mariner a $39,000 price rise. Michael Lichaa is averaging just 35.5 after a couple of rounds and is only managing to hold his value.
Panthers: Sam McKendry’s horror luck on the injury front continues with a third ACL injury, with Moses Leota replacing him on the bench. Nathan Cleary (63.5 points a game), Trent Merrin (55.5) and Peter Wallace (54) have all made excellent starts to the season, while Viliame Kikau came back down to earth with 24 after his round-one 63. It remains to be seen whether Kikau’s explosive opening round display will be a regular occurrence or a one-off, but he still has a negative break even this week. He’ll almost certainly come off the bench again despite being named in the starting side for the third Tuesday running. James Fisher-Harris managed only 19 points in 50 minutes last week in a worrying sign for his cash-making potential.
Wests Tigers v Brisbane Broncos tomorrow at Camperdown Stadium
Wests Tigers: Elijah Taylor is out with a hamstring injury and Tui Lolohea remains on the sidelines, so Matt Eisenhuth starts at lock with cash cow Corey Thompson remaining at fullback. David Nofoaluma made a rollicking return to the Fantasy scene last week with 11 tackle breaks and 65 points on the wing against Melbourne, while Thompson followed up his round one 60 with a strong 39 and another $65,000 price rise. After a strong round one score, Robbie Rochow came back down to earth with a very quiet 14 from 68 minutes (including eight missed tackles) but still beat his break even.
Broncos: Tom Opacic has been named to replace the injured Jordan Kahu (broken jaw) but Jack Bird is a chance of making his club debut in jersey 19. Jaydn Su’A joins the bench. Andrew McCullough had two try assists and 55 tackles for 69 points last week but Tevita Pangai Junior was the big Fantasy talking point from Brisbane’s win over the Cowboys, scoring 60 (including a try) to take his average past 50 from two games. Anthony Milford (57) and James Roberts (55) also impressed in that game.
Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors tomorrow at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Joey Leilua has been named despite doubts over an ankle injury, while Aidan Sezer gets a run in the halves this week at the expense of Blake Austin. Liam Knight replaces the injured Charlie Gubb on the bench while Joe Tapine (thumb) is a chance of being a late inclusion. Jordan Rapana has been excellent in the opening two rounds while Elliott Whitehead managed to hit 51 with a couple of tries after being shifted to centre to cover for Leilua last week. Sam Williams had a quiet game against Newcastle with just 14 to put a hold on his moneymaking prospects, while Jarrod Croker scored a try but still only made 40 points due to five missed tackles. Siliva Havili isn’t blowing anyone away but his mid-30s scores is all he needs to make good coin.
Warriors: Isaiah Papali’i is out for six weeks with Leivaha Pulu starting in his place with Simon Mannering still in the casualty ward. Jazz Tevaga replaces Sam Cook on the bench. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was superb against the Titans and could topple James Tedesco as Fantasy’s dominant winger/fullback this season after blitzing 90 last week, in a game featuring big scores from Shan Johnson (78), Tohu Harris (68) and cash cow Peta Hiku (53). Hiku’s break even is down to an even zero and he is a solid option in the outside backs even if he’s unlikely to make too many 50s against the stronger clubs.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles on Saturday at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Tyrell Fuimaono is out, with Hymel Hunt joining the bench. Damien Cook hit 72 points on the weekend and is rapidly approaching must-have territory, while rookie half Adam Doueihi made an excellent start to his Fantasy career with 43 points first up. Cameron Murray scored 53 points in as many minutes at lock and looks a potential cut-price keeper at $528,000, while the man he replaced in the No.13 Sam Burgess could only manage 31 in the front row against Penrith. Concussion kept Greg Inglis to just 14 on the weekend but his potential is still there – particularly if he can regain his old fullback position – while there’s no real rush to trade out cheapie Mark Nicholls even though he doesn’t look like making too much cash as a bench player.
Sea Eagles: Unchanged. Daly Cherry-Evans was the best of a very good Manly side in their rout of Parramatta on Sunday, notching 74 including nine goals, while six of his teammates also passed the 50-point mark in that game. Apisai Koroisau and Jake Trbojevic have both started the season on fire, while Lachlan Croker’s 34 is all you want out of him as a cash cow.
Parramatta Eels v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, on Saturday at ANZ Stadium
Eels: Beau Scott and Kenny Edwards return on the bench, with Will Smith and Brad Takairangi dropping out of the side, while Daniel Alvaro starts and Kane Evans moves back to the interchange. It’s no surprise that no Parramatta players scored particularly well in their demolition at the hands of Manly on Sunday, although Daniel Alvaro fared the best with 46. Bevan French has only managed a combined 28 from two games and is a sell.
Sharks: Jesse Ramien ($365k) replaces Aaron Gray in Cronulla’s only change this week although Luke Lewis is a chance of returning after being named in the reserves. The Sharks, like Parramatta, are none from two and there are some concerns about some of their Fantasy prospects as well, with Paul Gallen way down on his usual scoring after spending more time than usual on the bench and Valentine Holmes losing more value than any other player in the competition (a $98,000 drop to $428,000). Chad Townsend made 49 last week and is arguably the one shining light at the Sharks so far this year, Fantasy-wise.
Gold Coast Titans v St George Illawarra Dragons, Sunday 3.10pm AEST (4.10pm AEDT) at Clive Berghofer Stadium
Titans: Ash Taylor is back, meaning Bryce Cartwright goes back to lock and Will Matthews shifts to the bench. Jarrod Wallace has been named to return from suspension via the interchange, but will likely take a starting spot in the front row in the coming weeks. Max King (illness) and Keegan Hipgrave are out. With 34 tackles, a tick under 200 metres and three offloads, Jai Arrow is starting to live up to the pre-season hype with 54 Fantasy points in a losing side last week, with Bryce Cartwright also earning a nice price boost with 41 against the Warriors. Leilani Latu is the next most-owned Fantasy player at the Gold Coast and is a sell after scores of 19 and 10.
Dragons: No changes, with Jeremy Latimore likely to get a bench spot despite being named in jersey 18 once again. Try-scorers Tyson Frizell (64) and Euan Aitken (46) impressed for the Red V last week, while Paul Vaughan scored 52 in 55 minutes and Cameron McInnes made 50 tackles. Matt Dufty had a quiet game last week but could fire against the Titans.
Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights, Sunday 6.30pm AEDT at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Reece Robinson replaces the injured Daniel Tupou, who is set to miss at least a couple of months with a pectoral injury, while Dylan Napa swaps his bench spot for Jared Warea-Hargreaves’ starting spot in the front row. Mitch Aubusson remains on the bench after receiving a head knock last week. James Tedesco produced two line breaks, two try assists and a try in a 70-point effort against the Bulldogs that makes him worth every cent of his $742,000 price tag. Latrell Mitchell and Cooper Cronk are the Roosters’ next most popular Fantasy prospects and while neither have really got going yet the potential is there for them to go large if the Tricolours start notching some big wins. Mitchell Aubusson was relegated to the bench on the weekend and had to settle for 11 points in 21 minutes.
Knights: Jamie Buhrer returns on the bench for Newcastle with Jacob Saifiti bumped out of the 17. Kalyn Ponga is living up to expectations, following up a round one 75 with 45 against the Raiders, while Slade Griffin’s solid 39 on Sunday mean he has made almost $100,000 in price rises already. Aidan Guerra is averaging 58 after two rounds while Connor Watson and Mitchell Pearce haven’t quite been able to hit the Fantasy scores to match the team’s on-field results.