Workhorse Watch Rd 15

Here’s a free tip. If you want to do well at NRLCEO, especially during a round heavily affected by Origin and the bye, be sure to name every player you have that is playing. Especially if that player is Angus Crichton. That’s right, you’re so called resident forwards expert here at NRLCEO failed to name one of the breakout stars of 2017 in a week when he had just 5 forwards playing. The worst part is Crichton has been a mainstay in my team every week since Round 4 but was somehow accidently omitted this week. Crichton put on one of the greatest displays by any player in NRLCEO history, scoring three tries, a workhorse try, four line breaks and a double metre eater. Fortunately I still got away with a win but the omission is up there with some of my greatest fantasy blunders which include cutting Anthony Watmough in my first season of fantasy football in 2003 to make room for Andrew Gee and the time I didn’t keep track of who I was drafting and ended up with six five-eighths.

A couple of the North Queensland boys really rolled up their sleeves against Melbourne on Saturday evening including Jason Taumalolo who the NRL credits with running 300 metres for the game. As NRLCEO only count hit up metres, they had him down for 268 metres which is his best since Round 1. Ethan Lowe once again showed it all comes down to the minutes, getting his second workhorse try in as many weeks. The Goondiwindi junior played the full 84 minutes on his way to having 48 involvements. However the star performer was Scott Bolton who scored his first ever double workhorse try with 60 involvements and a metre eater with 182 metres made. Taumalolo would have joined him for a double workhorse but fell one involvement short with the Kiwi wrecking ball missing 4 tackles. Meanwhile John Asiata could’ve had his first workhorse try of the year but missed a massive seven tackles!

Matt Eisenhuth proved that the acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree (sort of). The cousin of Paul Gallen played his first NRL game on Saturday night, going head to head with his workhorse of a relative where he more than held his own scoring a workhorse try on debut. Eisenhuth had 41 involvements whilst Gallen was just one involvement off a double workhorse try. Both Sydney papers ran a story on Saturday about Eisenhuth’s struggle with injury over the years but it was the Telegraph’s piece that I happened to read first; it was a lovely story and the polar opposite of the shit they ran during the week on Tim Glasby.

This round was also a good opportunity for a number of forwards to get amongst the workhorse tries for the first time this season. The Parramatta vs St George Illawarra game saw Tariq Sims (45 involvements) and Kenny Edwards (47) score their first workhorse tries of the season. Meanwhile congratulations to Manu Ma’u who scored his first ever double workhorse try with a huge 61 involvements. His 173 metres was the most he’s in run in a game since bursting onto the scene back in 2014 when he ran for 188 metres in his NRL debut.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Tohu Harris is back averaging a workhorse try per game, scoring his first double workhorse of the season after missing out by two involvements in his return game back in Round 10. Harris played the full 84 minutes in the forwards after being named in the backs earlier in the week and had 65 involvements to go with 141 run metres.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Jesse Bromwich: 44 tackles + 19 hitups = 63
  2. Cameron McInnes: 47 tackles + 4 hitups = 51
  3. Scott Bolton: 40 tackles + 20 hitups = 60
  4. Tohu Harris: 52 tackles + 13 hitups = 65
  5. Manu Ma’u: 41 tackles + 21 hitups = 61
  6. Elijah Taylor: 57 tackles + 8 hitups = 65

14. Paul Gallen: 42 tackles + 17 hitups = 59
15. Jason Taumalolo: 34 tackles + 25 hitup = 59

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Kyle Lovett: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Round 15 proved to be a great round for unknowns to make their mark and whilst everyone is talking about Brodie Croft and Angus Crichton, there were few other notable performances including Crichton’s teammate Tyrell Fuimaono. Fuimaono took full advantage of his first game in the starting side scoring his first ever workhorse try with 41 involvements in 80 minutes (0.51 SPM). Both he and Crichton were the only Rabbitohs forwards to play the full 80 minutes.

In the same game, Pat Politoni scored a workhorse try on debut filling in for Nathan Peats. Politoni had a cracking game from an NRLCEO perspective with 42 involvements along with a try and a try assist in 69 minutes of game time (0.61 SPM). Politoni served his purpose this week but unfortunately he also had 7 missed tackles and with the Titans having the bye prior to Origin 3, I wouldn’t be scrambling to pick him up anytime soon if he’s still available in your league.

Still with the Titans, Max King also scored his very first workhorse try, registering exactly 40 involvements in 50 minutes of game time (0.80 SPM). King played with the same rate of involvement that he normally does (0.82 SPM) with the workhorse coming courtesy of the extra minutes (he normally averages 31.6 minutes per game).

Matt Prior made his minutes count on the weekend scoring a workhorse try with 42 involvements in just 38 minutes. His stats per minute rate of 1.10 was the best of any workhorse tryscorer over the weekend and second only to teammate Jeremy Latimore who had 32 involvements in 26 minutes of game time (1.23 SPM). Prior’s opposite number, Ava Seumanufagai was also extremely efficient with 48 involvements in 51 minutes (0.94 SPM) as he once again stepped up in the absence of Aaron Woods.

Workhorse Watch Rd 14

Following on from a look at pre-season predictions last week, there are a number of players that are really dragging the chain this leaving NRLCEOs wondering…

“What gives?”

What’s happened to Ethan Lowe for example? The Cowboys back rower scored just his fifth workhorse try for the season on Saturday, well down on the 19 workhorse tries he scored last year and the 20 the year before that. Lowe is averaging just 57.4 minutes a game, compared to the 78.9 minutes per game he averaged last season. The emergence of Coen Hess (who’s averaging an extra 12 minutes per game) and the arrival of Shaun Fensom has been largely responsible for Lowe’s low output.

It could be argued that the fall of Dylan Napa has been even worse. Napa scored 16 workhorse tries last year and after 14 rounds had 12, this year he has just two. Napa hasn’t scored a workhorse since Round 3 and hasn’t troubled the scores at all since Round 4. Although his minutes are not as severely down as Lowe’s, he’s still averaging 12 minutes less per game than he did in 2016. What’s interesting is that this has mainly affected the amount of work he’s doing in defence where he’s gone from averaging 31 tackles per game down to 22. The number of runs he’s making is about the same (13 a game in 2016 versus 12 a game in 2017) however the lightened load in defence has done little for his attack as he’s averaging 18 metres less per game and has just one Metre Eater for the season compared to the four he had at the same time last year.

If you’re counting on Chris Lawrence for a workhorse presence then you have some massive problems but NRLCEOs who drafted him at the beginning of the season would be rightly disappointed with his 2017 output. The Tigers’ veteran scored a handy 10 workhorse tries last season which put him just outside the top 50 for workhorses. This year he has just 2 workhorse tries in 11 games.

The workhorse output from the Broncos front row has been discussed before in this column but it’s worth bringing up again as we look at the players with the biggest drop offs from last season. In 2016, Korbin Sims scored twice as many workhorse tries as Adam Blair, Herman Ese’ese and Joe Ofahengaue combined. Sure it was for the Knights but this year he trails all of them in the workhorse department. Sims scored 10 last year and only has one to his name this season, which is bested by Blair (4), Ese’ese (3) and Ofahengaue (2). Once again minutes are a huge factor with Sims playing 20 minutes less per game compared to last year. He’s still making the same number of runs as he did last year but the drop in defensive workload has done nothing to lift his metres per run.  

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Josh Hodgson has got his season back on track as far as workhorse tries go, scoring his first double workhorse try of the season. Hodgson had 51 involvements, taking his workhorse tally to 7 for the year and in sight of the 11 he scored last season. Unfortunately the rest of the Hodgson’s numbers remain down, especially the try assist and line break assist department. Hodgson had 19 try assists and 16 line break assists last year and has just 7 and 5 respectively this year.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aaron Woods: 37 tackles + 18 hitups = 55
  2. Josh Hodgson: 39 tackles + 12 hitups = 51
  3. Jarrod Wallace: 36 tackles + 16 hitups = 52
  4. Elijah Taylor: 51 tackles + 10 hitups = 61
  5. Mitch Barnett: 58 tackles + 14 hitups = 72
  6. Matt Gillett: 45 tackles + 14 hitups = 59

14. Nathan Peats: 55 tackles + 6 hitups = 63
15. Cam McInnes: 57 tackles + 3 hitup = 60

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Sam Thaiday: 24 tackles + 15 hitups = 39

Morgan Boyle: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Jacob Lillyman: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

Tim Grant: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

In addition to the strong performers that have been highlighted in recent weeks there are a few more worth mentioning that are quietly going about their business, putting together really good seasons compared to last year. Issac Luke finished with 10 workhorse tries last season but already has 9 so far this season. Luke’s (0.53 SPM) average minutes and average involvements are virtually identical to last year, it’s just that he’s being more consistent from one week to the next. In 2016 he’d often finish in the 30-39 involvement bracket but his average would be offset by all the times he would make over 50 involvements. This year when he scores a workhorse try he is more likely to do it with involvements that sit in the 40s and has been falling short of the 40 threshold far less frequently than last season.

In addition to leading NSW to victory in Game 1, Boyd Cordner is having a cracking NRLCEO season. Cordner sat out Sunday’s match against the Tigers but at the rate he’s going is set to have his best season ever. Currently Cordner (0.57 SPM) has 10 workhorse tries which equals the amount he scored in an injury plagued 2016 and it’s also not far off the 11 or 12 he usually scores in non-injury affected seasons.

I don’t blame Kevin Walters for making changes to his Queensland side but an apology from every Maroon, whether they be an official, player or fan would be nice. The banana benders can defend the move all they want saying it’s not the same because Queensland are moving on older players who are past it, but the principle is the same. Queensland picked a team they thought would win Game 1, it didn’t and now they can’t wait to make changes. I’m not for one minute arguing they should stick with the same players, I’m just saying if they’re in need of a new jersey sponsor, the word ‘hypocrite’ across their chest would look rather fitting.

It’s easy to stick with the same players when you’re winning and Queensland have done plenty of that in the last decade but don’t for minute think they wouldn’t have made changes if they’d been losing. Remember, this is the state who after three straight series losses prior to the beginning of their dynasty feared that Origin was dead because they couldn’t win. Darius Boyd is the equal highest try scorer in Origin history and while he’s not a bad player, plenty of those tries came from just falling over the line thanks to the great work of players inside him. Boyd’s timing was perfect, he came into first grade just as the dynasty started, and it was red hot by the time he got picked but if Queensland had have lost a series or two then Darius’ name would be more likely on the honour roll alongside Ty Williams rather than Greg Inglis. Whether the four fresh faces in the forward pack in Jarrod Wallace (0.79 SPM) Coen Hess (0.53 SPM) Tim Glasby (0.79 SPM) and Gavin Cooper (0.51 SPM) are up to the task remains to be seen.

Workhorse Watch Rd 13

So NRLCEO wants to drag me into Dream Team predictions that I don’t even remember making. And tell us all how wrong we were?

This is the same NRLCEO who wrote in this year’s Season Guide that “Gareth Widdop sucks”.

But I’m happy to be accountable, however let me distance myself from said Dream Team predictions and focus on the workhorses of our game.

Starting with the players I said would be major improvers – two of those are current Dream Team leaders Paul Vaughan and Cameron McInnes. I also said “Any of the top 40 workhorses from last year will serve you well” so that covers me for the other four Dream Team leaders – Sam Burgess, Simon Mannering, Paul Gallen and Jake Trbojevic. Other players I predicted who would go well include Jarrod Wallace (from 4 workhorse tries last year to 11 so far this year), Nathan Brown, (8 workhorse tries this year) and Robbie Farah who only has 4 workhorse tries to his name but has enough points to be the 8th highest scoring hooker in the league. Unfortunately there will always be variables that can cruel a player’s season and unfortunately injury (Jamie Buhrer, Rory Kostjayson), stupidity (Kevin Proctor) and a lack of opportunity (Robbie Rochow) can be hard to predict. I’m happy to cop James Tamou as a bad pick though, however I’m already serving my penance on that one having picked him as a marquee draft acquisition in my keeper league.

It’s all good news though when you look at who I said should be avoided. This was pretty easy to predict so I won’t go on too much about it, however it’s worth noting how keen NRLCEO was for Dave Taylor at the start of the year. Tony Williams, Daniel Mortimer, Curtis Sironen, Josh Starling, Jeremy Latimore and Manaia Cherrington, all duds. The one I will make an exception for is Mitch Rein who played his first NRL game of the year last week and whilst he missed out on a workhorse try with 37 involvements, did score two tries.

Lastly there were the guys I said to look to now that more prominent workhorses had left their NRL teams. The stand out here is Scott Bolton. Even before Matt Scott got injured for the season, Bolton was having a blinder of the year. He’s scored 11 workhorse tries for the season and last week’s game against the Titans was the first time he missed a workhorse try all year. The rest unfortunately have done nothing. So maybe NRLCEO is right, maybe I am shit at making predictions, certainly the fortunes of my NRLCEO team this year is testament to that.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Ryan James lead all comers with 66 involvements on the weekend but only ran for 59 metres so a double workhorse was never on the cards. He and Jarrod Wallace make up the front row in this week’s Pack of the Week and have narrowed the gap between themselves and Aiden Tolman/James Graham after both Bulldogs failed to score a workhorse on the weekend. Tolman and Graham still have 25 for the season followed by James and Wallace with 23.

 

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Ryan James: 56 tackles + 10 hitups = 66
  2. Jake Friend: 57 tackles + 7 hitups = 64
  3. Jarrod Wallace: 48 tackles + 11 hitups = 59
  4. Elijah Taylor: 54 tackles + 8 hitups = 62
  5. Kyle Lovett: 47 tackles + 13 hitups = 64
  6. Simon Mannering: 45 tackles + 11 hitups = 56

14. Cameron McInnes: 58 tackles + 5 hitups = 63
15. Nathan Brown: 38 tackles + 11 hitup = 49

 

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Aiden Tolman missed a workhorse try for the first time this season and instead finds himself in the Close But No Cigar Club. I predict he’ll bounce back with Workhorse of the Week honours next week.

Aiden Tolman: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

Tepai Moeroa: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Aidan Guerra: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Kyle Lovett is not having a good time of it off the field this season but on the field, his last two weeks have been stellar. Lovett scored his first workhorse of the season in Round 12 and backed it up with 60 involvements against the Dragons last week in 80 minutes of football (0.75 SPM). Such is the ordinariness of the Tigers pack when it comes to workhorse tries, his efforts in the last fortnight already puts him in equal third for most workhorse tries scored by a Wests forward this season.

I’m glad Ricky Stuart is happy to have Origin players in his side for the back end of the year because he may struggle to get much from his lone Origin star over the coming weeks. Josh Papalii had his lowest number of involvements (27) of the year on Sunday despite playing 82 minutes. His stats per minute score of 0.33 was the lowest of any forward last week and below his usual 0.49 which always leaves him as a 50/50 chance of scoring a workhorse. Incidentally, teammate Shannon Boyd had the highest SPM of the round (1.43) but sadly he only played 7 minutes.

I’ve already mentioned Ryan James (1.05 SPM) and Paul Vaughan (1.09 SPM) this week but the other front rower with an impressive stats per minute score was Parramatta’s Daniel Alvaro. All three had more involvements than minutes on their way to workhorse tries with Alvaro registering 49 involvements in 46 minutes (1.07 SPM). It was his fourth workhorse of the year and second in as many weeks.

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Morgan Boyle scored his first workhorse try after Neil Henry was forced to shuffle his team around following the injury to Nathan Peats. Boyle had 42 involvements while playing the full 80 minutes (0.53 SPM). Karl Lawton also scored his first workhorse try (0.53 SPM) but unless your league allows backs to score workhorse tries then it will have no consequence to you. Lawton has been coming off the bench as a forward for most of the year but has never been in workhorse calculations even if he did qualify as a forward. Either way, it doesn’t really matter seeing as though Peats is back this week. I know everyone has already said it and it was a week ago, but how good was Peats in Origin 1!

Workhorse Watch Rd 12 (Mid-season Review)

Just as the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a Workhorse Watcher’s heart is through a solid 40 involvement performance. Round 11 marked the halfway mark of most NRLCEO regular seasons so with the final stats in, let’s take a look at what’s has been served up so far.

 

#1 Magnifique! Complements to the Chef

A post shared by Josh McGuire (@joshmcguire90) on


The palate of any discerning NRLCEO comes down to two things, quality and consistency. And there is no option better than Josh McGuire. McGuire has scored a workhorse try every week he has played and with double servings in Rounds 2 and 9 he leads the league at the halfway mark with 13 workhorse tries. Not to be outdone, Aiden Tolman also is yet to go a week without a workhorse try. At the halfway mark he had 12 workhorse tries which he added a double workhorse to over the weekend. When it comes to other fine choices, it’s hard to go past the classics like Sam Burgess (12), Simon Mannering (11) and Paul Gallen (11).

 

#2 Meat and Three Veg


Just as we can’t all be eating at Michelin starred restaurants every night, we can’t all have the aforementioned players in our side. For many a solid serving of workhorse tries most weeks is enough to satisfy and it’s when you have fresh ingredients, it’s even tastier. Scott Bolton, Felise Kaufusi, Jarrod Wallace and Cameron McInnes have all scored 10 workhorse tries each this season. At the halfway mark of last year they had a combined 8 workhorse tries with McInnes accounting for 6 of those. Other quality workhorses that have emerged this season include Angus Crichton and Jayden Brailey who each have 7 workhorse tries after 11 rounds.

 

#3 Send It Back

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Sadly not, every dish is a winner and what might look good in writing doesn’t translate when it arrives on the plate. NRLCEOs would be disappointed with what a number of players have served up so far this season including Daniel Saifiti. Saifiti finished 2016 with two workhorse tries and a 39 involvement haul leaving NRLCEOs keen on the kid’s prospects for this year. Sadly he has produced just 2 workhorse tries this season. Injury and playing in the halves has reeked havoc on Bryce Cartwright’s numbers with the Penrith Panther accruing just one workhorse try so far this season. A broken thumb and then a disengaged brain has brought Jesse Bromwich’s season undone with the Storm prop looking at the prospect of finishing in single figures for workhorse tries for the first time in 5 years. Meanwhile the Sims Brothers can blame neither ill-discipline nor injury for their poor seasons, with both Korbin and Tariq the victim of their side’s forward depth resulting in zero workhorse tries for the first half of 2017.

 

#4 All-You-Can-Eat

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Why settle for a workhorse try only when you can load up at the buffet with a try/workhorse try combo? Jake Trbojevic and Paul Vaughan are the crème de la crème when it comes to this category having scored the try/workhorse try double on three separate occasions. Special mention to Api Koroisau who went back to back in rounds 10 and 11.

 

#5 Unhappy Meal

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Speaking of buffets, it’s a virtual smorgasbord when it comes to the most frustrating player in terms of Close but No Cigar Club. After 11 rounds there were nine players that had finished a game on 39 involvements twice. James Graham is the stand out name but save for his injury affected game in Round 9, every other week he’s scored a workhorse or a double workhorse try. Other names on the list include Gavin Cooper, Issah Yeo, Frank Winterstein, Jason Taumalolo, Josh Starling, Manu Ma’u, Russell Packer and Tom Burgess.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Aiden Tolman was the only player to score a double workhorse in Round 12. Tolman had 50 tackles and 17 runs for 139 metres. It takes him to outright first on the workhorse tally with 14 for the season.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

8. Aiden Tolman: 50 tackles + 17 hitups = 67
9. Jake Friend: 59 tackles + 3 hitups = 62
10. Shannon Boyd: 37 tackles + 15 hitups = 52
11. Adam Elliott: 43 tackles + 21 hitups = 64
12. Jason Bukuya: 45 tackles + 11 hitups = 56
13. Simon Mannering: 41 tackles + 13 hitups = 54

14. Jayden Brailey: 54 tackles + 3 hitups = 57
15. David Fualalo: 41 tackles + 12 hitup = 53

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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George Burgess: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

Jayden Su’a: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something happens that you didn’t expected. A back has made has qualified for the Workhorse Pack of the Week but unfortunately has had to miss out on a technicality. Ryan Matterson had a whopping 55 involvements in 80 minutes (0.69 SPM) against the Raiders on Sunday in his first start in the run on side. Matterson had played nine games coming into Round 12 but all of them had been off the bench meaning there was no way he could qualify as a forward having only been listed as a five-eighth and bench back at the beginning of the year. With just one line break to his name prior to Sunday not many would’ve paid attention to him but his 55 involvements was sixth highest of the week. Players often miss out on Workhorse Pack of the Week honours because there are players in the same position who scored more but never because there isn’t an actual place for them under the rules.

My decision not to make an exception for Matterson meant that Bulldogs back rower Danny Fualalo managed to make the Workhorse Pack of the Week with the first workhorse try of his career with 53 involvements in 74 minutes (0.72 SPM). Also scoring their first ever workhorse was the Sharks’ Luke Capewell who started in the place of Wade Graham and played 67 minutes and had 40 involvements (0.60 SPM).

I might have spoken too soon when I said Angus Crichton was a bona fide workhorse last week. Workhorses don’t score tries like the one he did on Friday night. His 90 metre effort in the 49th minute helped set a personal best for metres made in a game (179m) to go along with 40 involvements in 80 minutes (0.50 SPM).

Workhorse Watch Rd 11

Commentators say some silly things at times. In fact, you could write a weekly column calling out the dumb stuff they say but that would require sitting through some dull games, and even duller commentary. The one I will mention though comes from Matt Thompson. I like Thompson but saying “Such a sad thing to see such a young player suffer an injury like this” when Josh Aloiai lay injured on Friday night is as benign as it gets. It’s so lazy and implies if it happened to an older player it wouldn’t be so bad. Aloiai had only been back on the field for three minutes having replaced Aaron Woods who in his return game had 41 involvements including 18 runs. Not to labour the point of recent weeks but 11 of those hit ups came in the first half, the rest of the Tigers’ starting pack combined for 9 hit ups in the first half. No support? Let someone else have a run Aaron.

Angus Crichton has emerged as a bonafide workhorse following his first ever double workhorse try. The Temora born backrower even out performed the great Sam Burgess (just) as he racked up 65 involvements to the Englishman’s 64. Coach Michael Maguire has made plenty of changes from week to week as the Bunnies struggle for form but one consistent has been Crichton in the back row. Crichton is a solid scorer provided he gets the minutes. In his last five games he’s only failed to trouble the scorers once and that was in Round 9 when he played just 47 minutes.

I’m glad to see Nathan Peats get his shot at Origin although disappointed to see that it may have come only because Peter Wallace is injured. The three main contenders (Wallace, Peats and Robbie Farah) all had a case to put forward although I’m glad Peats has been given the nod over Farah. Regular readers will know I’ve been a big Farah fan and he’s been posting some good fantasy numbers despite limited game time but I think it’s time to see what Peats can do. Peats had 48 involvements on the weekend to score is second workhorse try of the year but it was probably his three try assists against Melbourne the week before that secured him the NSW gig.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

Jason Taumalolo had a massive game on Thursday night scoring the first double workhorse of his career. Taumalolo ran for 211 metres off 19 runs which is just another day at the office for the New Zealand international but his 48 tackles to go with it was a personal best.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aiden Tolman: 46 tackles + 12 hitups = 58
  2. Cameron Smith: 58 tackles + 4 hitups = 62
  3. Scott Bolton: 44 tackles + 15 hitups = 59
  4. Sam Burgess: 43 tackles + 21 hitups = 64
  5. Angus Crichton: 47 tackles + 18 hitups = 65
  6. Jason Taumalolo: 48 tackles + 19 hitups = 67

14. Jayden Brailey: 57 tackles + 5 hitups = 62
15. Trent Merrin: 38 tackles + 21 hitup = 59

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

James Graham: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Daniel Saifiti: 35 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

Andrew McCullough’s injury against the Tigers had a number of repercussions. It meant that McCullough’s run of consecutive workhorse tries dating back to Round 17 last year was broken. But it did create an opportunity for a young forward I thought would get more of a chance by now. With Josh McGuire shifting to hooker for the remaining 22 minutes, Joe Ofahengaue scored his first workhorse of the season playing 48 minutes, way up on his average of 21 minutes per game. The Tongan representative had 48 involvements for an SPM of 1.00.

Still with the Broncos and a number of young and not so young forwards have the opportunity to step up this week with three forwards away on Origin duty. One of those players is Alex Glenn who has been left in the workhorse wilderness in recent years. Glenn scored 12 workhorse tries back in 2015 but in the year and a half since then has scored only three. Glenn currently averages 28 involvements per game in 43.2 minutes of game time (0.65 SPM) but without Thaiday, McGuire and Gillett away with the Maroons, that should go up during Origin.

The Roosters are also well represented In Origin with Boyd Cordner, Dylan Napa and Aiden Guerra all set to line up next Wednesday night. That’s good news for Siosiua Taukeiaho (0.82 SPM for the season) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (0.85 SPM for the season) who both missed out on workhorse tries against the Bulldogs. Waerea-Hargreaves only just missed out (38 involvements) while Taukeiaho was well short of a workhorse (32 involvements) after only playing 39 minutes compared to the 55 minutes per game he’d averaged in the previous 3 games. Kane Evans meanwhile has a stats per minute score of 0.81.

Let’s get back to some high stats per minuters with Tim Mannah also registering an SPM of 1.00 as he played 40 minutes and scored just his second workhorse try of the season. Mannah’s only other workhorse this season was back in Round 1 in a performance that had workhorse fans wondering if this was going to be the year he returned as a genuine workhorse. The answer to that is no but at least he only needs one more workhorse try to equal his output from 2016.

Workhorse Watch Rd 10

When the Close But No Cigar Club was first started, it was a bit of fun. Oh look at these guys that have just missed out. Well it’s no longer a bit of fun. It’s down right frustrating. Especially when you include players at the expense of guys like Robbie Farah who ended up having his biggest round of the year. In Round 9 there were ten players in the Close But No Cigar Club and this week there were nine! This is getting ridiculous.

It is often said that players returning to club football from representative duties come back as better players with rep footy providing a boost in confidence if nothing else. Considering the disdain many have for City vs Country that line of thinking may not apply, but there was plenty of evidence to the contrary over the weekend. James Tamou (40 involvements) scored his first workhorse try since Round 6, Curtis Sironen (43) scored his first since Round 5 and Daniel Alvaro (44) broke a workhorse drought dating back to Round 4. Dale Finucane had his best performance since Round 6 and although the Dragons didn’t get the win against Cronulla, Paul Vaughan, Jack De Belin and Cameron McInnes all scored workhorse tries despite having to back up five days later. Meanwhile the Bulldogs and Raiders who refused to partake in the City/Country match got beaten by the Thurston-less Cowboys and the Knights respectively. Imagine if they hadn’t had a rest the week before!

Just four players remain in the race to be NRLCEO’s most consistent workhorse. Felise Kaufusi fell two involvements short of a workhorse bringing an end to his 9 game streak of consecutive four pointers. Players still yet to play a game this year without missing a workhorse are Broncos forward Josh McGuire (12 workhorses), teammate Andrew McCullough (11), Bulldogs’ trojan Aiden Tolman (11) and the Cowboys’ Scott Bolton (10).

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Apisai Koroisau. Koroisau was the only forward to post a double workhorse try this week although Sam Burgess did score two tries to go with his workhorse.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Josh McGuire: 35 tackles + 21 hitups = 56
  2. Apisai Koroisau: 52 tackles + 7 hitups = 59
  3. James Graham: 33 tackles + 18 hitups = 52
  4. Sam Burgess: 35 tackles + 19 hitups = 54
  5. Elijah Taylor: 61 tackles + 6 hitups = 67
  6. Paul Gallen: 42 tackles + 17 hitups = 59

14. Josh Hodgson: 53 tackles + 5 hitups = 58
15. Shannon Boyd: 43 tackles + 8 hitup = 51

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Another massive week in the Close But No Cigar Club.

Adam Elliott: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Josh Jackson: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

Jayden Brailey: 38 tackles + 1 hitups = 39

Cam Smith: 34 tackles + 5 hitups = 39

Gavin Cooper: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Jason Taumalolo: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Bodene Thompson: 33 tackles + 6 hitups = 39

Isaah Yeo: 32 tackles + 7 hitups = 39

Thomas Burgess: 21 tackles + 18 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Aaron Woods’ claim he has no help at the Tigers continues to be laughable as Ava Seumanufagai scored his first workhorse since Round 2 with his captain absent. Seumanufagai registered 39 involvements last round and this week had 47 in 54 minutes (0.87 SPM). Admittedly there was little else to write home about for the Tigers with no other forward getting over 60 metres as the side got pumped by the Rabbitohs.

Junior Paulo scored his first workhorse try in almost two years as the Raiders were beaten by the Knights. It was his first workhorse since joining the Green Machine with the one time Oatley rah-rah playing 59 minutes, up from his average of 54.5. Paulo had precisely 40 involvements for an SPM of 0.68, up from his usual 0.61 and enough to get his first workhorse try since Round 20, 2015.

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Titans’ front rower Morgan Boyle showed some promising signs in just his third match after he was forced to play 57 minutes after his side had players dropping left, right and centre. Although he missed out on a workhorse try by two involvements (0.67 SPM), he did get a metre eater, racking up 188 metres off 18 runs which was only bettered by Jarrod Wallace who ran for 212. Even more impressive was the fact he didn’t miss tackle against Melbourne which is a big improvement on his debut against the Knights in Round 6 where he made 20 tackles but missed 4.

Manly may have come away with a loss but Api Koroisau had a huge fantasy game as he crossed for a try and also posted a double workhorse try, his first since Round 16, 2015. 59 involvements in 75 minutes (0.79 SPM) along with 79 run metres made for Koroisau’s best NRLCEO performance ever.

Workhorse Watch Rd 9

Cameron Smith surpassed Jason Taylor for most premiership goals in the Storm’s rout of the Dragons.

It lead NRLCEO to declare him “the best NRLCEO kicker ever.”

The Melbourne rake, who had bang on 40 involvements against St George Illawarra, began his career just as fantasy rugby league began to emerge and whilst he certainly has the numbers on the board, is longevity the only thing that counts when considering who is the greatest?

Smith may be the best NRLCEO player of all time, but the name that has to be considered when you talk about greatest fantasy kicker of all time is Hazem El Masri.

El Masri averaged more goals per game than Smith over the length of his career despite only taking 12 attempts his first five seasons. When El Masri started in 1996 there was a bloke by the name of Darryl Halligan, himself a pretty prolific goal kicker, ahead of him. It wasn’t until 2001 that Hazem got the gig full time and when you compare his record when he started kicking on a permanent basis to when Smith did, he blows the Melbourne captain out of the water. From 2001 to 2009 El Masri kicked 882 goals in 223 games at an average of 3.96 goals per game. After splitting the duties with Matt Orford for a couple of years Smith began kicking on a regular basis in 2006 and since then has kicked 862 goals in 272 games for an average of 3.17 goals per game. Also, El Masri has a career accuracy of 82% compared to Smith with 73%. Smith may have workhorses and try assists to help regard him as the greatest of all time but when it comes to putting it over the black dot, give me ‘El Magic’ every day of the week.

The Panthers continue to find themselves firmly entrenched towards the bottom of the ladder and the question in the back of my mind whilst watching them on Thursday night was, where’s Mitch Rein? Rein signed a two year contract last year and whilst it was always clear he’d be second fiddle to Peter Wallace, I’m amazed that strategy hasn’t changed after the Panthers’ indifferent start to the season. Rein has played 7 out of 8 games this season for the Panthers’ NSW Cup side and has played 80 minutes in every game, averaging 44.4 tackles a match. Where I think Rein’s inclusion could really help is in the halves. Combinations take time but at present Nathan Cleary appears to be trying to do too much. Cleary averages 50.7 touches per game compared to his halves partner (be it Martin or Cartwright) with 28.1. Peter Wallace is clearly the leader of the team despite not having the (c) next to his name and the inclusion of Rein could shift Wallace into the halves to take some pressure off the 19 year old Cleary. It would also allow Cartwright to move back into the forwards where he can be more effective instead looking completely lost like he did on Thursday.

The Eels sure know how to dodge a workhorse try. Led by the Grand Emperor of the Close But No Cigar Club, Tim Mannah, the Eels had five players register between 35 and 39 involvements. Only Nathan Brown (52 involvements) scored a workhorse, his sixth consecutive at that. Mannah had 25 involvements in his first stint and with 10 minutes to go had 35 and his second workhorse of the season in sight. But the only thing rarer than a Tim Mannah workhorse try is a Tim Mannah actual try, his last meat pie was back in Round 23, 2015. Mannah barged over the line in the 74th minute and with just three involvements needed to get a workhorse it looked like a try/workhorse try was on the cards. Instead Brad Arthur brought him off the field; goddamnit Brad, you couldn’t leave him on for 6 more minutes? Other Eels adding to the workhorse frustration included Manu Ma’u (39), Kaysa Pritchard (38), Beau Scott (38) and Suaia Matagi (35).

Amid the booing, the banners and the projectiles, two young Tigers forwards scored their first workhorse tries of the season as the Tigers went down to the Sharks at Leichhardt Oval. Jacob Liddle and Josh Aloiai both scored workhorses with Liddle registering his first ever and Aloiai getting just the second of his career. The game though will be remembered for the three things I mentioned as well as Aaron Woods’ injury 25 minutes into the contest. As if to back up my point from last week it’s interesting to note is that in Woods’ absence, Ava Seumanufagai ran a season best 116 metres while Sauaso Sue ran 126 metres, his highest meterage since Round 1. Chris Lawrence also stepped up with 112 metres, well up from his average of 78 metres per game. Whilst none of those players average the same metres per run as Woods, they did enough to give their side enough of a platform to get back into the match by halftime.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

Simon Mannering. Were there Test match jerseys up for grabs this week? Whilst Mannering doesn’t need a Test jersey dangled as a carrot to put in a big performance, he certainly didn’t do his chances any harm with his third double workhorse of the season. Mannering will line up for the Kiwis this weekend after missing last year’s Four Nations tournament due to injury.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aiden Tolman: 35 tackles + 21 hitups = 56
  2. Issac Luke: 44 tackles + 12 hitups = 56
  3. Andrew Fifita: 40 tackles + 15 hitups = 55
  4. Boyd Cordner: 41 tackles + 15 hitups = 56
  5. Josh McGuire: 44 tackles + 17 hitups = 61
  6. Simon Mannering: 49 tackles + 16 hitups = 65

14. Andrew McCullough: 54 tackles + 6 hitups = 60
15. Elijah Taylor: 49 tackles + 6 hitup = 55

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

I can’t remember the last time the No Cigar Club was this full. 10 in total this week!

Reagan Campbell-Gillard: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

Manu Ma’u: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Ryan James: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Josh Papalli: 24 tackles + 15 hitups = 39

Nathan Peats: 36 tackles + 3 hitups = 39

Will Chambers: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

Josh Starling: 32 tackles + 7 hitups = 39

Jack De Belin: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Dylan Napa: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Ava Seumanufagai: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

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STATS PER MINUTE

Expect a green patch of form from Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess over the coming weeks as brother George serves a 4 match suspension. Tom’s two workhorse tries this season have come in his brother’s absence, the most recent being on Friday night with a season high 47 involvements against Manly (0.92 SPM) Tom averages 41 involvements when George isn’t in the team compared to 33.7 when he is.

Sam Stone scored his third straight workhorse try courtesy of 45 involvements (0.65 SPM) against the Titans on Saturday afternoon. It was shades of 2016 for the Knights as they had just 40% of possession for the game and 10 less sets of six than their opponent. Despite the amount of defence Newcastle were forced to do, Stone and hooker Daniel Levi were the only Knights forwards to score workhorse tries. Stone was also the Knights’ lone try scorer, getting the first of the game before the Titans wracked up a 30 point win.

Neither Connor Watson nor Nathaniel Roache got on the field on Sunday afternoon despite both sides backing up just 5 days after they played on ANZAC Day. That was a boon for Issac Luke who scored his first double workhorse try since Round 19 last year with 56 involvements and 87 metres in 80 minutes (0.71 SPM). It was just another day at the office for his opposite number, Jake Friend, who had 52 tackles and just the one run.

Still on the Warriors vs Roosters game and Sio Siua Taukeiaho is well and truly back scoring his second straight workhorse of the season after returning from injury in Round 7. Taukeiaho is averaging 41 involvements per game despite averaging just 37 minutes a match (1.11 SPM) and should be back on everyone’s radar as the rep season approaches and players like Boyd Cordner will be away.

Workhorse Watch Rd 8

Let’s talk about the Aaron Woods. Wait, don’t leave, I’m not here to talk about contracts, just what it means to his on-field game. The Tigers captain had 26 tackles and 18 runs in a solid workhorse performance. Enjoy it while you can. From next year I predict Woods’ workhorse tries will become less and less frequent after he cited the ability to share the load with other forwards the primary reason for his decision to move to Belmore. Woods is averaging 41 involvements per game, down from 44 per game over the last two seasons so any reduction in workrate would be disastrous for his workhorse stock.

There is no doubt that Woods is a quality player and any team would be the better for having him but I don’t think the Tigers losing him is the worst things in the world and the consensus seems to be that losing James Tedesco is far more of a set back. The problem with Woods and with all the players in the contract fiasco at the Tigers is that they all lack the leadership the club desperately needs right now. While they are off to play with better run clubs in premiership contention, they don’t get the fact that they were the ones the Tigers were looking towards to make them contenders. Woods supposedly appealed to management to get more support up front. But what about the blokes that were already there?

You can’t just make someone play like a Tedesco or a Moses but finding forwards that will roll up their sleeves and have a go shouldn’t be that hard. Many are just waiting for an opportunity.  When Paul Gallen got injured in Round 22 last year Matt Prior stepped up. He literally doubled his output going from averaging 73.3 metres per game from rounds 1 to 22, to averaging 148.3 metres per game over the final four weeks of the regular season. This season Jarrod Wallace has gone from 31 involvements and 81 metres a game to 51 involvements and 128 metres per game. Woods averages 50% more runs than any other forward at the Tigers. Leading by example is important but if Woods was a true leader of the club he would have pulled teammates aside and talked to them about how they needed to lift.

So where to now for the Tigers? They’ll now be chasing the other big names still on the open market but what they really need is a ‘Pay Day’. In 1996 the Parramatta Eels picked up their own ‘Big 4’ when Jim Dymock, Jarrod McCracken, Jason Smith and Dean Pay reneged on their Super League deals. Dymock was quickly the fan favourite with almost every new Eels jersey bearing his #13; McCracken the rampaging centre with the flowing blonde locks and Smith the skillful backrower/five-eighth whose brilliance was often hampered by injury. But it was Pay that was the most important piece of the puzzle. Only 26 when he joined Parramatta, Pay brought a maturity that helped turn the Eels from cellar dwellers to finals regulars. The Tigers aren’t going to have four players of that quality land in their lap but they just need one that can be the starting point.

The Eels became so good defensively there would be times you would watch them defend their line set after set and you just knew they wouldn’t crack. Under Pay’s guidance players like Nathan Cayless, Michael Vella, David Kidwell and the Hindmarsh brothers emerged, setting the Eels up for success long after he retired. Ben Kennedy brought the same kind of steel to the Knights in 2000, Roy Asotasi when he arrived at the Rabbitohs. It’s just a shame that Woods, 26, is about to come into the prime of his career has now left the Tigers. Someone like James Graham, currently older than any of those guys were at the time, would be ideal but the Tigers’ newly announced signing Ben Matulino could also be that player.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Ryan James. In a front row that averaged 61 involvements per player, James was the stand out with 69 involvements. He was ably supported by Nathan Peats (58) and Jarrod Wallace (57) as the Titans upset the defending premiers.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Ryan James: 54 tackles + 15 hitups = 69
  2. Andrew McCullough: 59 tackles + 4 hitups = 63
  3. James Graham: 42 tackles + 16 hitups = 58
  4. Felise Kaufusi: 45 tackles + 11 hitups = 56
  5. Elijah Taylor: 53 tackles + 8 hitups = 61
  6. Paul Gallen: 40 tackles + 21 hitups = 61

14. Jake Friend: 59 tackles + 0 hitups = 59
15. Nathan Peats: 56 tackles + 2 hitup = 58

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

Thomas Burgess: 23 tackles + 16 hitups = 39

Isaah Yeo: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Gavin Cooper: 24 tackles + 15 hitups = 39

Jason Taumalolo: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Matt Prior: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Leeson Ah Mau: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Corey Harawira-Naera has been threatening to score a workhorse try for a number of weeks averaging 35 involvements in his first 3 NRL games (0.60 SPM). But NRLCEOs wouldn’t have been filled with confidence after the rookie was dropped in Round 7 and named outside of the 17 for Round 8. Even when coach Anthony Griffin culled his squad to 19 on Friday, the impending return of the man he replaced, Bryce Cartwright, did not bode well for Harawira-Naera. But on game day, Griffin cut Te Maire Martin, shifted Cartwright to five-eighth and slotted Harawira-Naera in the back row. Harawira-Naera had 47 involvements and played the full 80 minutes for first time in his NRL career (0.59 SPM).

Frustration for Rabbitohs fans flowed onto those with Rabbitohs forwards as three Bunnies players fell just short of the 40 involvement mark. Thomas Burgess had 39 involvements in 39 minutes (1.00 SPM) while John Sutton’s shift to the halves hushed what has been a very decent start to the 2017 season. The other man who was close but ultimately missed out was Damien Cook. Cook played 49 minutes and after scoring the opening try of the game and playing the entire first half, looked prime for a big one. But the Helensburgh junior came off just 6 minutes into the second half and didn’t return until the 77th minute. During that time Robbie Farah set up two tries and had 3 line break assists whilst also robbing Cook of the minutes he needed to get a workhorse.

After coming close in Round 3 with 38 involvements, Newcastle back rower Luke Yates scored his first workhorse try against the Cowboys with 47 involvements in 58 minutes (0.81 SPM). Extraordinarily he came into the starting side after Sione Mata’utia moved to halfback in place of Trent Hodkinson. His breakout performance couldn’t come at a better time with Newcastle’s workhorse gun Mitchell Barnett out for up to two months following the same game. He and Sam Stone are well worth a look at with Barnett and Jamie Buhrer out for so long.

The ANZAC Day clash between the Roosters and the Dragons is always a special occasion including from a workhorse point of view. 11 out of the 12 starting forwards scored workhorse tries with just Isaac Liu, who had 35 involvements in 51 minutes (0.69 SPM) missing out. The best of the bunch was Paul Vaughan, playing in his first ANZAC clash with 49 involvements in 47 minutes (1.04 SPM) while for the Roosters, Siosiua Taukeiaho made the most of his first start of the season getting 46 involvements in 47 minutes (0.98 SPM)

 

JUST QUICKLY:

The Workhorse Watch can exclusively reveal just how wrong Gus Gould was about the two girls at the football being disinterested in what was happening on the field.

Workhorse Watch Rd 7

It’s an Easter Miracle!

Some might say rising from the dead is a revelation but it’s nothing when you consider that Michael Chee Kam scored a workhorse try! Whatsmore, it was off the bench! The Tigers’ backrower played 51 minutes which is the most he’s played this year when not lining up in the centres and managed to finish with exactly 40 involvements after an upgrade late on Monday afternoon. The four pointer is Chee Kam’s first ever major score having never tallied more than a line break assist in 16 previous NRL games.

Friday’s game between the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs highlighted the growing need for players to have an all round game. No longer can forwards just be defensive specialists and this was reinforced when Des Hasler hooked Michael Lichaa after 26 minutes on Good Friday. Lichaa has long been an NRLCEO gun, the bias towards tackle counts means he’s a valuable member of any NRLCEO team but in the non-fantasy world his game has often been criticised for its lack of attack. Indeed, on nine occasions last year Lichaa missed out on a double workhorse try due to a lack of metres and this year is yet to make any sort of attacking contribution with no tries, no try assists, no line breaks and no line break assists. Lichaa (17 involvements) came off with his side trailing 2-8 but the Dogs soon struck back to level the score before dominating the second half.

Speaking of replaced hookers, NRLCEOs will be relieved to know that Jake Friend’s benching on Friday night was due to illness in the lead up to the game. Speaking after the game, Luke Keary told Fox Sports that Friend didn’t train very much during the week and that was the reason Paul Carter starting instead. Friend still managed to have 38 involvements and remained on field for the remainder of the game after coming on in the 28th minute. Speaking of “rested”, why does Latrell Mitchell need a “rest”? Sure he’s only 19 years old and his body is still adjusting but it’s only Round 7 and he played every game last season. I’m just an outsider looking in and am not privy to what goes on at each club but I hope it’s not another case of coaches taking the softly, softly approach when it comes to dropping players.

Ryan Hoffman continues to produce even at the age of 33, in 7 games this year he already has 4 workhorse tries along with three actual tries. Against the Raiders he was the Warriors’ lone try scorer and combined with his 43 involvements scored his second try/workhorse try combo of the season. He now draws level with four other players each with two try/workhorse try performances this season; Jack De Belin, Coen Hess, Paul Vaughan and Andrew McCullough.

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Workhorse of the Week:

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James Graham. Graham again reigns supreme with his third consecutive double workhorse try. Graham had 62 involvements and ran for 154 metres. He now sits in outright first for total workhorses with 9.

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WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Jarrod Wallace: 34 tackles + 26 hitups = 60
  2. Andrew McCullough: 55 tackles + 3 hitups = 58
  3. James Graham: 43 tackles + 19 hitups = 62
  4. Jake Trbojevic: 52 tackles + 15 hitups = 57
  5. Simon Mannering: 45 tackles + 12 hitups = 57
  6. Josh McGuire: 42 tackles + 16 hitups = 58

14. Aiden Tolman: 39 tackles + 20 hitups = 59
15. Sione Mata’utia: 43 tackles + 13 hitup = 56

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Manu Ma’u: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Adam Elliott: 33 tackles + 6 runs = 39

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STATS PER MINUTE

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A devastating blow for NRLCEOs with Jamie Buhrer ruled out for up to 8 weeks with a fractured foot. His withdrawal saw Joe Wardle promoted to the starting side but it was Sam Stone (pictured above) who was the real beneficiary of Buhrer’s absence with the local junior scoring his first workhorse try with 41 involvements in just 45 minutes (0.91 SPM). Sam, the son of former Knights coach Rick Stone, had been averaging 22.8 involvements per game in 33 minutes (0.69 SPM) in his first 5 NRL games.

I think we can now safely put Jarrod Wallace into the upper echelon of workhorses after the Titans prop responded the best way one can when slipping into the Close But No Cigar Club – scoring a double workhorse try! Wallace had exactly 60 involvements in 73 minutes (0.82 SPM) against his old club as the Titans were dominated by the Broncos, completed just 55% of their sets. Wallace also ran for 264 metres to score his first ever double metre eater.

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For the first month and a half of the season Felise Kaufusi has been quietly going about his work. The Melbourne back rower has not missed a workhorse try this season and on Saturday he scored his seventh. Only 8 players have scored a workhorse every week this season and Kaufusi finds himself in the elite company of forwards such as Ryan James, Aiden Tolman and Andrew McCullough. Having a player that scores a workhorse for you week in, week out is like gold and against the Sea Eagles he had 46 involvements in 80 minutes (0.58 SPM). However, he can no longer fly under the radar after also scoring two tries, along with two line breaks and a line break assist in a massive 15 point haul.

Another player that has been super consistent this season has been Scott Bolton who also hasn’t missed a workhorse this season. Like Kaufusi, Bolton has been given an opportunity this season but unlike the Storm forward, he’s been around for 10 years and is now in career best form. He has doubled and in some cases tripled what he has produced workhorse wise in previous seasons and he too managed to get across the stripe for an actual try. His try in the 64th minute was his first in over a year and went along with 41 involvements in 56 minutes (0.73 SPM).

Workhorse Watch Rd 6

The Workhorse Watch can exclusively reveal how the how the ‘Curse of Fensom’ was broken.

You see, two Fridays ago (Round 5), Paul Green, fearful that the curse could derail his club’s season appealed to the fantasy football gods in an effort to have the curse lifted. The gods listened to his plea and took pity on him, telling Green that in order to break the curse he would need a make a sacrifice to them.

Green said “Name it, I’ll do anything but can I do it later, kick-off is just hours away.”

The fantasy gods would not normally allow this but seeing as though they were in a good mood and keen to finish early for the day and get to happy hour, they gave Green one week to come back and make a sacrifice before them. The curse was lifted and the Cowboys won with Fensom however Green did not come back. The gods became impatient and then angry, how dare a mortal, a former halfback at that, defy the fantasy gods. Round 6 kicked off and still no offering to the gods. Green had to be punished. So with no sacrificial lamb, the gods decided to take a calf instead.

Unprecedented scenes on the Gold Coast as the Canberra Raiders failed to post a single workhorse try. The Raiders dominated possession in the first half (66%), completing 17/19 sets. Extraordinarily, only one player for the Green Machine, Josh Hodgson, had a tackle count in double figures by halftime with 12. Possession was more even in the second half but it still wasn’t enough for any player to get past the 40 involvement mark. It wasn’t much better from the Titans with Ryan James the only player to score a workhorse as the home side spent plenty of time with hands on hips behind their own try line.

‘You snooze you lose’ or so the saying goes. But sometimes you can be wide awake, and still get dudded. In Round 3 I highlighted the tremendous work rate of Herman Ese’ese. On Thursday night the Broncos’ prop got his first start in the run-on side and didn’t disappoint, racking up 21 involvements in 25 minutes. He then returned in the 62nd minute but his efforts to score his second workhorse of the season were thwarted by a flurry of late tries by the Broncos. But even if he had scored a workhorse, my excitement over him would’ve been subdued given one of my rivals picked him up one minute before I tried to earlier in the night. After seeing him named to start at 7pm I immediately jumped onto TheBench to snag him. Remembering that he was available when I last looked earlier in the week, and seeing on the message feed that no one had acquired him, I immediately went to my squad and cut a player. But by the time I searched for Ese’ese on the Player List he was now a Snuffmonkey. “When did that happen?” I asked myself. Did he get picked up some time ago and I just imagined seeing him on the Free List? Nope, a click back to the home page and there it was, snapped up ‘1 minute ago’. I don’t feel as robbed knowing he didn’t get a four pointer.

The Dragons form continues on the back of their solid pack and well executed plays when they put the ball through the hands. Jason Nightingale’s three tries last weekend were no fluke with the Red V identifying David Nofoaluma’s deficiencies in defence in the lead up to the game. This week Brian Kelly was the target with the Manly rookie missing 9 tackles. But it all starts with their forwards, the best of the bunch being Paul Vaughan with 29 tackles, 21 hit ups, 212 metres and no missed tackles. After just six rounds he sits on the same number of NRLCEO points that he had in all of 2016.

Speaking of heavy workloads, Daly Cherry-Evan again had a tonne of players run his way and although he missed 5 tackles, he did make 35 which, along with his 5 runs was enough to secure his second workhorse try of the season. No back has made more tackles this season than the Manly playmaker and he has even made more than noted workhorses Josh Papalii, Manu Ma’u, Ethan Lowe and Aaron Woods even though they’ve each played every game this season.

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Workhorse of the Week:

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Aiden Tolman. Normal service has resumed with Tolman and James Graham passing the title of Workhorse of the Week between them. Tolman had 53 tackles and 15 runs and scored his first double workhorse try against Newcastle and is equal first with his prop partner for total workhorse tries. Makes you wonder why the Bulldogs are chasing Aaron Woods.

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WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aiden Tolman: 53 tackles + 15 hitups = 68
  2. Cameron Smith: 47 tackles + 7 hitups = 54
  3. James Graham: 43 tackles + 19 hitups = 62
  4. Jamie Buhrer: 51 tackles + 12 hitups = 63
  5. Simon Mannering: 48 tackles + 19 hitups = 67
  6. Sam Burgess: 48 tackles + 19 hitups = 67

14. Dale Finucane: 47 tackles + 13 hitup = 60
15. Peter Wallace: 54 tackles + 4 hitups = 58

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CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Back to back weeks for Frank Winterstein, Jarrod Wallace’s streak of workhorse tries comes to an end while Elijah Taylor misses a massive 10 tackles to wind up in the Close But No Cigar Club.

Frank Winterstein: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Jarrod Wallace: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Joel Thompson: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

Elijah Taylor: 36 tackles + 3 hitups = 39

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STATS PER MINUTE

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Kyle Turner remains the quiet achiever in the Rabbitohs pack after scoring his fourth workhorse try of the season. Although named at prop, the Coonabarabran junior played his natural game notching up roughly the same number of tackles and hit ups he’s made in each of his other workhorse performances this season. However, he did it in just 51 minutes (0.86 SPM) compared to the usual 60.8 minutes he normally averages. Turner finished with 9 workhorse tries last season, playing 23 of a possible 24 games. At this rate he’ll finish well into double figures come the end of the season.    

After losing Jake Granville to a broken leg in Round 5, Ben Hampton provided a good workhorse return in his first stint in the number 9 jersey on Saturday night. Hampton has been averaging 29 minutes a game in a utility role so far this season but played 52 minutes against the Tigers and had 45 involvements (0.87 SPM). Injuries to Johnathan Thurston, Lachlan Coote and Ray Thompson leaves the Cowboys spine in tatters so it remains to be seen whether Hampton remains at dummy half or shifts to the halves in the coming weeks.

Y’all laughed when I singled out Nathan Brown as a workhorse worth considering but the Eels prop scored his third straight workhorse with 34 tackles and 10 runs in 58 minutes (0.76 SPM) after coming into the run-on side just before kick off. Brown also opened the scoring with a try in the 20th minute, just the second of his career. The first time he crossed for a try back in Round 15 last year, he finished with 39 involvements and missed the magic try/workhorse try double. Not so this week as he scored the 26th try/workhorse try combo of the season. Coen Hess, Andrew McCullough and Paul Vaughan lead the field with two each.

Seventy-two minutes of tryless football thanks to some ordinary conditions and two evenly matched teams does wonders for workhorses. In total there were 10 workhorse tries plus two Close But No Cigars in the Melbourne versus Cronulla game. Paul Gallen had the most involvements with 58 (0.82 SPM) but it was opposing captain Cameron Smith whose contribution was the most valuable, scoring a double workhorse with 55 involvements (0.69 SPM) and 78 run metres – his first double workhorse for 2017.

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JUST QUICKLY:

STOP. CALLING. THEM. THE. BIG. FOUR!

Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses have been together as part of the Tigers’ first grade side since Moses debuted in Round 17, 2014. Since then the Tigers have won just 36% of their games and not made the finals once.

What’s worrying for both the Eels and Moses are that each are looking to the other to find success. Moses wants to play for a contender, which, at two wins from six games, the Eels are not. Meanwhile the Eels want Moses to be one of their marquee play makers, which, with two try assists,  a line break and a line break assist in six games, he is not.

Who knows, maybe they’re a perfect match and everything will turn out great. I for one hope it does but I am so sick of millions being thrown at players that are yet to achieve anything. You want to get paid a champion’s salary? Start by being a champion.