By Matthew Duggan
As with any year, the first couple rounds held many revelations in relation to NRLCEO.
Some players flopped with less than expected minutes, and some exploded due to receiving the opposite treatment. Some much hyped rookies have gone boom or bust, and some players who have threatened to unleash their potential for a long time have finally done so. So, we count down the top ten things we have learnt so far in 2014 in relation to NRL Fantasy.
10. The Warriors are stuffing up some Fantasy teams
As we all know, a lot of the Warriors players rely on the team doing well in order to be successful in Fantasy. The most notorious of these players is Shaun Johnson, but Sam Tomkins could be another to add in this category. Both of these players have been underwhelming, but could really start to pump out some serious points when the Warriors do eventually hit form
9. Ben Barba looks like a Fantasy flop
While he has put in two okay performances for Brisbane, he is certainly not doing well for Fantasy sides. The running game that won him a Dally M and NRLCEO MVP in has seemingly gone the way of the dodo, with him electing to pass to his wingers to return kicks and try to take on a more playmaking role. He has only landed six points in two games, which isn’t attrocious, but it’s far cry from him previous season starts. In my honest opinion, if Barba keeps playing the way he has been, Brisbane would have been better served leaving Hoffman at fullback and passing up on Barba.
8. Anthony Milford still has his mind in Canberra
With him being (sort of) contracted to the Broncos for 2015, there was much speculation that Milford could not put in the performances he did last year due to his head being in Brisbane. Needless to say, he has proved everyone wrong after a solid Round 1 game against North Queensland, and an absolute master class display against Newcastle. Breaking tackles and defensive lines left, right and centre, he is going to be a valuable asset for the Green Machine for at least another year.
7. Manu Ma’u for rookie of the year?
Manu Ma’u has been brilliant for Parramatta so far, and his NRLCEO scores should reflect this shortly (he was only one short of a workhorse last week). He is already looking likely to be the best rookie forward out of the Round 1 crop, and may be close to edging out Luke Brooks as the early front-runner for the rookie award. His brilliant form has seen him net a new contract, and it looks like he will be a permanent fixture in the blue and gold for many weeks, and indeed years, to come.
6. David Taylor is still terrible for the Titans
What a dud the former coal train has been for the Gold Coast. This year has been no different to last, with him barely taking hit ups, and when he does they rarely seem dangerous or effective. Cartwright seems to be getting frustrated, giving Taylor only 25 minutes last weekend against the Tigers. In that time, he still managed to make an absolutely ridiculous nine missed tackles. To extrapolate from that, Taylor would have missed about 30 if he played the full game. This is simply not even close to good enough, and he is extraordinarily lucky to still find himself in the first grade side.
5. Josh Mansour is, quite simply, a beast
The Penrith winger has been absolutely fantastic thus far in 2014. With brilliant strength and finishing, he has recorded some outstanding scores in NRLCEO, and may have even put himself in the frame for a Blues jumper.
4. Brenton Lawrence could be a flop
With several first grade props departing Manly this year, many thought Lawrence would be a major beneficiary in the double workhorse department, probably receiving at least 65 minutes, if not 80. Unfortunately, Lawrence hasn’t even reached the 50 minute mark in either match, and as such is performing far below expectations when it comes to workhorse levels. He’s still managed a workhorse in both games, but not nearly as dominating as many had hoped.
3. James Tedesco could finally reach his potential
It was quite sad to see a kid with so many wraps go through such a torrid few years of injuries, but it seems Tedesco may have almost fully recovered at last. Showing outstanding pace this year, the remnants of his knee injuries that seemingly plagued him last year may now be non-existent. His performance against the Titans especially was one of the best I’ve seen. Every time he touched the ball he looked like breaking the line, he was breaking multiple tackles nearly every run, and managed to get a try and an assist to boot.
2. It is Taumalolo’s time at last
Jason Taumalolo has threatened to explode for years, but apparent friction between him and former coach Neil Henry prevented him from playing any substantial minutes. New coach Paul Green gave him the starting role for this year, and while we all knew he’d get more minutes, I don’t think many anticipated him becoming an 80 minute player. He got a workhorse in week one and fell just short in week two, but add his uncanny ability to break tackles, and I think mammoth scores appearing next to Jason’s name in NRLCEO will be a common sight this year.
1. Andrew McCullough could become one of the biggest guns in the game
Andrew McCullough has always possessed a PPM that is up there with some of the best hookers in the game. Anthony Griffin just never seemed to want to give the guy the full game to work with though, taking time of him for the likes of Ben Hunt, Peter Wallace and Jake Granville. Finally, it seems “Hook” has come to his senses and given the future Queensland hooker (in my opinion. No hate please Jake Friend fans) 80 minutes. McCullough tackles his backside off, dictates the play brilliantly and has a solid kicking game, and as such is showing that he will be posting plenty of big scores this year. He may just be some much needed competition for the Smith and Farah combination that has been a must to end the season with for so long.
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