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Captains Call: Round 24

Welcome to another edition of Captains Call.

We are well and truly underway for finals in NRLCEO and very close to the end of the regular season for NRL. This has provided a few headaches for some CEO’s out there who have gun players in teams not making finals who may have a niggling injury. This has resulted in shuffled line ups which can affect CEO output, none more than Angus Crichton who was relegated to the bench last week. He did come on after 23 minutes but that was enough to rule out a workhorse. He did however make a line break with his first touch and may have resulted in a try assist if his pass found the mark. Let’s hope that’s the last time he starts on the bench.

The biggest shock of the week came from Paul Gallen. Hasn’t scored less than four all year, and then he gets a zero against the Broncos. Don’t be too disheartened if you have him, only two workhorses were scored in that game.

Who would have thought the Eels would lose to the Knights and only score 10 points on the way? It was a very insipid display for the Eels which wasn’t good news for Semi Radradra. He finished with a zero in a week many thought he may score at least a double.

Dylan Walker had a slightly better game but again, against the lowly Tigers you wouldn’t have been mistaken for expecting more out of him. A try assist and line break assist was it, didn’t look threatening all day.

The pick of the lot was Jordan Rapana with a try and line break. Again in a game where I expected a little more from him you couldn’t be too disappointed with that.

So seen as how I’ve had a pretty dry run with picking good captain choices, I’ve enlisted the services of a few of my fellow Tookey Cup to pick this week. They have been playing NRLCEO for seven years now so they do know a thing or two.

Don’t forget to vote or leave a comment below.

Good luck to all those in finals this week.

 

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Simon Mannering (safe bet)

I chose this one. Mannering is a tackling machine who makes up his workhorse just in tackles. Against the Rabbitohs I can’t see that changing. If you want a guaranteed eight points at least then Mannering is almost a certainty to get that.

 

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Elliot Whitehead (safe bet)

Brenton has chosen Whitehead, not only because he is a Raiders fan but because he is one of the most consistent player this year. Since round five he has averaged about five and a half points. On top of that he has now moved into the middle of the park which should guarantee enough involvements for a workhorse.

 

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Billy Slater (risk and reward)

Adam has picked Billy Slater, not only because he has him but because he has been in great for this season. Once Slater found his feet again he has looked the most dangerous out of any fullback in the game. Up against the resurgent Knights you could expect Slater to be in the thick of it again. Knights have been playing better and did hold the Eels to only 10 points on the weekend but it will be interesting to see if they can hold out the Storm.

 

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Mitchell Moses (risk and reward)

Ciaran has chosen Moses as he is a massive Eels fan but also you’d expect Moses and the Eels to bounce back in a big way against the chaotic Titans. He has been arguably the form five eight of the comp for the last month or so and against a Titans team that’s leaking points for fun he could seriously run amok.

 

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The Roosters Halves (risk and reward)

Adam had another go and picked one or the other so I put both up. It is unlikely that both with fire but you’d expect one too. After a bruising game against the Storm last week and wanting to cement a top four spot the Rooster will come out firing. They almost have a full strength team back which is danger signs for other teams and although Tigers beat Manly last week, Tigers still leaked some points.

Who are you picking as captain for Round 24?

Round 23 Dream Teams

Round 23 Team of the Week

I’ll be honest. At the start of the year I read about all the hype of Cameron McInnes becoming an 80 minute hooker at the Dragons and dominating and despite having him in my team last year I left him along in my draft plans. He wasn’t a sexy option. As the Player of the Week and Dream Team hooker he has proven me wrong time and time again. With two tries, two line breaks, a line break assist and a workhorse he finished with 15 points which is his equal highest NRLCEO score ever (Round 13 2016 for Souths against the Titans).

The teenage sensation at the Raiders was the second highest scorer of the round. Nick Cotric finished with 14 points through two tries, a try assist, two line breaks and a 155m metre eater. It is his third double in his short 21 game career and his 14th try of the year. He’s currently the 12th highest ranked winger in NRLCEO but that’s amazing considering he’s still just 18. There are only five other 18 year olds in the NRL and none of them start in their teams.

The beast from the tropics, Jason Taumalolo, continues his best ever NRLCEO season. We invented the metre eater to suit this bloke because he wasn’t getting workhorses – now he’s getting both regularly! With 14 workhorses and an incredible 26 metre eaters for the year he now becomes a genuine top rank back rower draft pick.

 

Here is the rest of the Team of the Week:

  1. Alex Johnston (12)
  2. Nick Cotric (14)
  3. Tautau Moga (12)
  4. Kurt Mann (11)
  5. Jason Nightingale (12)
  6. Brock Lamb (10)
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans (11)
  8. James Graham (9)
  9. Cameron McInnes (15)
  10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard (9)
  11. Elijah Taylor (11)
  12. Joel Thompson (9)
  13. Jason Taumalolo (13)

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

 

Overall Dream Team

At the top of the tree Paul Gallen choked over the weekend and with only 32 involvements and 81 metres, he got his first donut of the year! He now has a three point lead over Tom Trbojevic and a ten point lead over Jordan Rapana. It’s going to be a great finish for the gold, silver and bronze!

After only one week out of the team, Suliasi Vunivalu is back in the Dream Team. He sits just one point ahead of Josh Addo-Carr and while they probably both deserve a spot in the team they need to start scoring heavily to oust Rapana.

Kiwi captain Simon Mannering makes his way back into the Dream Team after a few weeks out. He has the equal most workhorses (23) with Aiden Tolman and has the seventh highest tackle count in the game. Consistency is his middle name.

Lastly, I gave him a wrap in the Team of the Week but Jason Taumalolo is proving himself to be a genuine top five back rower draft pick for next season. The $10 million dollar man has six more metre eaters than his nearest rival (Paul Gallen – 20), the most run metres (3,686) and has the third most runs (337) in the NRL. He averages 194 metres per game! What. A. Beast.

 

Here is the Dream Team at the conclusion of Round 23 (with total points in brackets):

  1. Tom Trbojevic (138)
  2. Suliasi Vunivalu (107) – NEW
  3. Dylan Walker (112)
  4. James Roberts (121)
  5. Jordan Rapana (131)
  6. Gareth Widdop (111)
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans (94)
  8. Paul Vaughan (121)
  9. Cameron McInnes (115)
  10. Felise Kaufusi (122)
  11. Simon Mannering (123) – NEW
  12. Jason Taumalolo (127) – NEW
  13. Paul Gallen (141) – MVP

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

Round 22 Injury Wrap-up

Our resident rugby league injury expert, the NRL Physio is back with a wrap-up of the injuries and recoveries after Round 22.

 

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Bevan French

Bevan French is likely to be rested as a precautionary measure for Friday night’s clash against the Knights. It would be a smart call as I have seen with Moylan recently how troublesome lingering hamstring issues can be.

 

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Jack Bird

Bird’s shoulder injury is not as bad as first feared. He is expected to miss one to two weeks of football. He will see a specialist this week for expected recovery details.

 

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Nathan Ross

Talk of Nathan Ross’ season being over may be premature. It is possible to return from transverse process fractures in as little as two to three weeks. It is an extremely painful injury but structurally not as debilitating. I have seen some people refer to this specific fracture as a pain tolerance issue.

 

Daniel Tupou

It is a groin tear for the Roosters tall timber. He will have up to six weeks recovery according to the Roosters. With that timeline it is likely a grade 2-3 injury and he would be aiming for four to six weeks.

 

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Sio Siua Taukeiaho

Great news for SST and the Roosters as his open dislocation only pierced the skin and he could play this week. If fractured it would have been four to six weeks recovery.

 

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Josh Dugan

Dugan has been confirmed with a lateral ligament sprain and no syndesmosis injury. He is a chance to play this week but it is usually a one to three week recovery.

 

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Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein

The best case for both Cooper (calf) and Winterstein (hamstring) is to only miss two games each. Both of them likely suffered grade 1 strains. A grade 1 calf is approximately one to three weeks recovery for Cooper and a grade 1 hamstring strain is likely two to four weeks for Winterstein.

 

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Jayden Brailey

After breaking his jaw in Round 16, Brailey is still two to three weeks away from returning.

 

As always if you have any questions, throw a comment down below or hit me up on Twitter @nrlphysio or Facebook.

The opinions given by the author of this article are given by a qualified physiotherapist, HOWEVER they are based on the information available to the author at the time of publication; are general; and are not based on any formal physical assessment and/or diagnosis by the author. If you believe you may be suffering from an injury similar to one commented on by the author, do not rely on the author’s advice as it may not apply to you – see a qualified physiotherapist for a full assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan.

Captains Call: Round 23

Welcome to Captains Call for the first week of finals for many comps.

Who was out there enough, who had the balls, who had really no option but to pick Ben Hunt as your Captain? I doubt any of you did and I’m not surprised. Three tries, three try assists, two line breaks and one line break assist in 48 minutes, what an effort. Makes you think what he could have scored if he played the full 80.

Talking about halves, I think I will refrain from picking anymore in Captains Call, they never seem to score a lot of points when I do. Nathan Cleary had a return of a line break and line break assist which was quite low against the Tigers.

Gareth Widdop didn’t do much better. After setting up the first try that was about it for Widdop, a try assist and line break assist was all he could manage.

The two forwards in Felise Kaufusi and Jake Trbojevic didn’t set the world on fire but did manage to get a workhorse each.

The pick of the lost was Anthony Milford who crossed for a try and line break assist. I’m surprised it wasn’t more as the Broncos smashed the Titans.

Time to really think about who you choose as Captain as its now sudden death for a lot of teams.

Time to preview five more, don’t forget to vote or leave a comment below.

 

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Angus Crichton (safe bet)

Crichton has been one of the surprise packets of the year. In what could be a grind of a game there is a chance he may get his second double work horse of the year. He also hasn’t scored a try since his hat trick in round 15 so he is due for a short ball close to the line.

 

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Paul Gallen (safe bet)

Gallen is the leading point scorer this season for a reason. 21 work horse tries and 20 meter eaters are the reason for this. After losing to the Raiders over the weekend, Gallen will be looking for a big game and against the Broncos he will definitely be put to the test. Easy work horse with the slight possibility of a double due to the fact Broncos like to throw the ball around.

 

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Jordan Rapana (risk and reward)

Rapana was leading point scorer most of the season until a quiet run hit in round 16. Top that off with a suspension Rapana was looking for a big game when he came back. Last week he looked fresh and showed that with his fifth game with two tries or more. Against a Warriors team that seems to be losing interest as the season goes on, Rapana could be in for a field day.

 

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Dylan Walker (risk and reward)

I know I chose Walker last time Sea Eagles and Tigers met and he scored donuts but with a top four spot on the line and the fact he was shown up a little bit last week against Latrell, expect Walker to do some damage down that right side. He should cross for at least one try and provide one for Uate.

 

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Semi Radradra (risk and reward)

Semi is in some try scoring form having crossed for four tries in his last five games. What helps is the Eels are playing some really good football and unfortunately for Knights they don’t have anyone who will be able to contain Semi. He could be in for a massive game which could even see him score the same amount of tries he did in round two.

 

Who are you picking as captain for Round 23?

Round 22 Dream Teams

Round 22 Team of the Week

Wow! Ben Hunt. scored the eighth equal highest NRLCEO score of all time21 points from a bench player? It just doesn’t seem to make sense. He played just 47 minutes and yet . What a performance. Three tries, three try assists, two line breaks and a line break assist he finished with a quality tally of 21 NRLCEO points and yet still couldn’t get a compliment from Wayne Bennett.

Not far behind him was the new and improved Robbie Farah – Damien Cook. If only this guy could get an 80 minute gig to himself! He scored a try, had a try assist, line break, line break assist, double workhorse and 127m metre eater. He’s the perfect hooker if he can just get the minutes.

Tommy “Turbo” Trbojevic turned it on at Brookie Oval (I can’t bring myself to call it that corporate name) on the weekend for his second highest ever NRLCEO score. Is he officially the new Prince of Brookie? With two tries, a try assist, line break, two line breaks and a 207m double metre eater he has put himself within spitting distance of the overall MVP.

Raiders reject and now Knights stalwart Mitch Barnett ran the perfect back rower lines on the weekend to cross for the first double of his career and just his fourth ever NRL try in his 29th appearance. It’s the second time he has been in double figures and it is his 14th workhorse for the year.

Honourable mention to young Brock Lamb for his 12 points and racking up his 10th try assist for the year. That’s more than Cameron Munster, James Maloney, Blake Green, Matt Moylan, Johnathan Thurston, Blake Austin and Corey Norman. Not bad for a youngster.

 

Here is the rest of the Team of the Week:

  1. Tom Trbojevic (17)
  2. Corey Oates (13)
  3. Kurt Mann (10)
  4. Tryone Peachey (8)
  5. Daniel Tupou (13)
  6. Brock Lamb (12)
  7. Ben Hunt (21)
  8. Daniel Alvaro (9)
  9. Damien Cook (18)
  10. Ben Matulino (6)
  11. Mitch Barnett (14)
  12. Elliott Whitehead (9)
  13. Josh McGuire (9)

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

 

Overall Dream Team

We finally have a bit more of a race on for the overall MVP! Paul Gallen leads the pack with 141 points but Tom Trbojevic is hot on his heels! With 17 points from the weekend he reduced the gap by 13 points. With Manly having an easy run home against the Tigers, Bulldogs, Warriors and Panthers he could easily take the title.

Jordan Rapana has decided to hit back with his form but it might be a case of too little, too late.

There has been a switch on wing of the Dream Team. Vunivalu’s team mate Josh Addo-Carr has overtaken him by three points to make the Dream Team for the first time ever. He has 16 tries for the year, 16 line breaks and a superior metre eater count with 12. The two of them will go neck and neck for the second wing spot behind Jordan Rapana.

The other new entry this week is Daly Cherry-Evans. It’s been an unusually quiet year for halfbacks this season as Shaun Johnson held onto his place despite getting injured three weeks ago. Fittingly taking his place in the Dream Team, DCE has the most try assists (21) in the whole NRL, the second most line break assists (17), the second most 40/20’s (3) and the equal third most field goals (2). Michael Morgan is hot on his heels, but I like DCE’s run home. He will be aiming to pass 100 NRLCEO points for the first time ever (passing his previous best of 94 in 2013).

 

Here is the Dream Team at the conclusion of Round 22 (with total points in brackets):

  1. Tom Trbojevic (136)
  2. Josh Add0-Carr (106) – NEW
  3. Dylan Walker (107)
  4. James Roberts (118)
  5. Jordan Rapana (124)
  6. Gareth Widdop (103)
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans (83) – NEW
  8. Paul Vaughan (117)
  9. Cameron McInnes (100)
  10. Nathan Brown (103)
  11. Jake Trbojevic (118)
  12. Felise Kaufusi (118)
  13. Paul Gallen (141) – MVP

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

Captains Call: Round 22

Welcome back to this week’s edition of Captains Call and like the Rabbitohs, my season is fading.

Although most of my picks weren’t that bad they weren’t anything to write home about. Joey Leilua did run rampage down that right side however just couldn’t add any attacking stats but if I had of chosen the Raiders other centre in Croker it would have been a master stroke.

Nightingale didn’t fare much better on adding a line break and line break and line break assist to his season tally.

Andrew McCullough made his customary work horse then Adam Blair got jealous and decided to cannon ball into his knee effectively ruling him out for the season and causing another headache for many CEOs.

Ryan James was huge with 63 involvements, unfortunately his 100 meters wasn’t enough to get him the double workhorse requirements.

The best of the lot last week was Cody Walker. He scored a try and had a line break assist. His move to the number six might be what Madge chooses for the rest of the season.

This week is the last week of games for the Supporter Leagues as they go to finals next week. It will be very important to pick the right Captain for this week as it might just get you into that fourth or eighth spot.

Please vote or leave a comment below and good luck for this week.

 

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Felise Kaufusi (safe bet)

One of the big surprise packets for the year, Kaufusi has been outstanding. Taking over from Kevin Proctor and playing 80 minutes in every game bar two it’s been a seamless transition for the Storm on that right edge. He has had only one game below four points, with 14 being his biggest haul. The last time Storm and Cowboys met Kaufusi didn’t get a workhorse but did pick up a try, try assist and two line breaks.

 

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Jake Trbojevic (safe bet)

Like Kaufusi, Jake Trbojevic has only had once score below four which is the same game that he missed his only work horse. Trbojevic also has the ability to cross the line and if Manly want to get out of this funk he may very well be the man to do it. Good chance for a double work horse this week as I’m expecting a very close game.

 

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Gareth Widdop (risk and reward)

Although the Dragons season is unravelling, Gareth Widdop is a rare shining light. He very rarely has two bad games in a row ad against a poor Rabbitohs side he could be in for another double digit score. What could make things better for Widdop is if Sam Burgess is ruled out.

 

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Nathan Cleary (risk and reward)

Panthers v Tigers, Father V Son. Nathan Cleary has had a very good season and it’s only going to get better as the season continues. Last time Panthers played the Tigers Cleary crossed for a try, line break assist and kicked six goals. His form then however wasn’t the standard that it is now. Could be some big points out of him this week.

 

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Anthony Milford (risk and reward)

Anthony Milford hasn’t been setting the world alight recently however that can change against a very unreliable Titans side. Last time these two teams met Milford ran for a whopping 210 meters and scored a try. With Milford slowly getting back into his groove it could spell danger for the Titans.

Who are you picking as captain for Round 22?

Round 21 Dream Teams

Round 21 Team of the Week

Big, bad, bustling Nathan Brown is our Player of the Week this week despite heading off injured with 12 minutes to go on the weekend. His 65 involvements netted him a Double Workhorse and his 205m netted him a Double Metre Eater for his troubles too. Adding two line breaks to his tally to show his ball handing skills and it tops off a great week for the reformed bad boy.

I was coming up against Cam Smith on the weekend and I needed a quiet game from him if I was a chance to retain my spot in the finals of my private league. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for most he shone in his 350th game. He had a masterful display of four try assists, four line break assists and six goals. With 37 involvements he just fell short of a workhorse for his troubles but only one Storm player needed to cross 40 involvements as they smashed the Sea Eagles into submission.

 

Here is the rest of the Team of the Week:

  1. James Tedesco (11)
  2. Josh Addo-Carr (9)
  3. Kirsome Auva’a (12)
  4. Jarrod Croker (11)
  5. Kyle Feldt (8)
  6. Luke Keary (8)
  7. Mitch Moses (9)
  8. Paul Vaughan (11)
  9. Cameron Smith (12)
  10. Aaron Woods (9)
  11. Matt Gillett (12)
  12.  Jack De Belin (11)
  13. Nathan Brown (14)

 

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

 

Overall Dream Team

The effervescent old man Paul Gallen is continuing to lead from the front and he now has a 18 point lead over Tom Trbojevic in second place. With just six rounds to go, it’s hard to see him missing out on the MVP title unless he gets injured. That of course means he will be the cover star of next year’s Season Guide. Smile Paul.

Only one new member of the Dream Team this week. Big Nathan Brown has bustled his way into the line-up after another quality Double Workhorse Performance and the Player of the Week Title. Although he has been playing at lock (and will likely only be a back rower next year on the site) he has been dual position since the early parts of the season.  The big fella has three DWH’s in the last four week’s and so hopefully the knock he took to the face doesn’t keep him out of this weekend’s fixtures. As you can tell, he’s one of mine.

 

Here is the Dream Team at the conclusion of Round 21 (with total points in brackets):

  1. Tom Trbojevic (119)
  2. Suliasi Vunivalu (95)
  3. Dylan Walker (104)
  4. James Roberts (114)
  5. Jordan Rapana (115)
  6. Gareth Widdop (100)
  7. Shaun Johnson (81)
  8. Paul Vaughan (113)
  9. Cameron McInnes (96)
  10. Nathan Brown (97) – NEW
  11. Jake Trbojevic (114)
  12. Felise Kaufusi (114)
  13. Paul Gallen (137) – MVP

 

Points based on: Tries (4), Workhorses (4), Double Workhorses (8), Metre Eaters (2), Double Metre Eaters (4), Try Assists (2), Line Breaks (1), Line Break Assists (1), 40/20s (1), Field Goals (1), Sin Bins (-2) and Send Offs (-4).

Why Gareth Widdop Should be the Key Pick for Your Team

St George Illawarra Dragons’ captain, Gareth Widdop, has been in inspired form during the 2017 NRL campaign, and despite missing part of the season through injury, he has still shown why England coach Wayne Bennett holds him in such high regard.

Despite Widdop’s excellent form, the Dragons have struggled in recent weeks, and after challenging the Melbourne Storm towards the top of the NRL ladder during the early rounds of the season, Paul McGregor’s side have slipped to eighth and their place in the top eight is now in doubt heading into the final rounds of the regular season.

The Dragons have won just once in the last six rounds as well as having a bye round. However, despite McGregor’s side struggling, Widdop has shown the form that has made him one of the world’s best half-backs and a favourite for NRLCEOs.

Widdop has shown form that will surely see him included in England’s starting XIII for the Rugby League World Cup this summer, where the Wall of White will be hoping to topple Australia and New Zealand at the summit of world rugby, and defy the 9/1 rugby league betting odds that are currently being offered on the markets.

Whilst the Dragons have been struggling in recent weeks, Widdop has been excelling and has made the Team of the Week on the Dream Team on numerous occasions, with his creativity from five-eighth standing out over most in the NRL.

The 28-year-old Englishman has scored 127 NRL points this season from his 14 appearances, which is only bettered by five other players in the competition, while his average points per game ratio of 9.07 is only bettered by Nathan Cleary of the Penrith Panthers.

Widdop has 13 try assists in 2017 along with nine tries, making him the most influential player in the NRL. With the Dragons’ form slumping in recent weeks, they will be turning to their captain to guide them back up the league ladder and into contention for a place in the Grand Final later in 2017.

McGregor will be hoping that Widdop can continue his excellent form to guide his side back into serious contention for silverware, and it will take performances like he produced in the 18-14 defeat to the Canberra Raiders in Round 19, to push the Dragons on.

That evening, Widdop found himself on the losing side but his performance didn’t deserve that, with the 28-year-old grabbing a try and three goals as well as an exceptional try assist for his wing, Jason Nightingale.

He also blitzed the Sea Eagles as shown in the highlights below with a try and two try assists to help them to pile on 52 points against the high flying Peninsula club.

That evening, Widdop found himself on the losing side but his performance didn’t deserve that, with the 28-year-old grabbing a try and three goals as well as an exceptional try assist for his wing, Jason Nightingale.

Widdop is in the form of his life for the Dragons, and heading into a World Cup later this year, all of Australia will be aware of the damage the half-back could potentially do for England. However, between now and then, St George Illawarra fans will be hoping the 28-year-old can drag his side back up the NRL ladder, whilst continuing his excellent streak of creativity, which is seeing him dominate the Dream Team in 2017.

Why you must overload with Dragons players for clash with the Knights

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There are just six rounds of the regular NRL season remaining, and we are beginning to find out who will be competing for silverware later in 2017. The Newcastle Knights face the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 21, with the two clubs having very different things to play for heading into the season’s run-in, as eight places on the league ladder separate the rivals.

Newcastle are currently at the foot of the table, having picked up just two victories in 2017. Nathan Brown’s side will be desperate to finish the campaign strongly and avoid picking up the ‘wooden spoon’ for the third consecutive year.

The Knights are without a victory since their Round 10 triumph over the Canberra Raiders, and this weekend will come up against a St George side who are looking to keep a tight grip on their place in the top-eight, with Paul McGregor’s side currently eighth in the ladder.

St George are currently priced at 7/25 to take advantage of the Knights’ recent slump down the NRL ladder, whilst Brown’s team are a generous 16/5 to cause an upset against the in-form Dragons, with comparison sites such as Oddschecker providing a number of offers on the fixture.

Despite Newcastle’s poor form in the NRL this season, they still have players that St George will need to be wary of. CEOs will be aware of who the danger men are for Brown’s side, with Nathan Ross, who will be lining up at full-back, scoring high points on the average.

Although his best form comes on the wing, Ross will line up against the Dragons at full-back, where he has played in his last four outings. Ross has failed to score in his last four appearances, and his last tries came against this weekend’s opponents, when he scored a hat-trick in the 32-28 defeat in Round 16.

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The outside back is not just Newcastle’s most lethal finisher, he is also the club’s top metre eater with 2,436 and 11 metre eaters, making him a useful player for NRLCEOs.

Dane Gagai is also in Newcastle’s line-up for this weekend’s clash, with the Queensland back also one of the top metre eaters for Brown’s side gaining 2,171. Gagai has been unable to replicate Ross’ try scoring feats, but despite only crossing the whitewash twice in the NRL this season, the exciting outside back showed his class for Queensland in the State of Origin, scoring twice in game two.

Perhaps CEOs looking to include a player from the struggling Knights should look to their half-back partnership of Brock Lamb and Trent Hodkinson who would still be available in most leagues.

Lamb is the club’s top scorer this season with 54 points, scoring just two tries. However, his partner in the halves has been a lot more productive, particularly after missing large parts of the season.

Hodkinson has 52 points, which have mainly come through his 24 goals, but the 28-year-old has also proved to be the Knights’ creative cog, scoring one try and adding five try assists, including four from his last four appearances in the NRL.

Lamb and Hodkinson will come up against the NRL’s most in-form player this weekend, with St George’s Gareth Widdop in the form of his life heading into the season’s run-in.

The England stand-off is one of the NRL’s leading point scorers with 147 from the season and playing some of the best rugby of his career, which is ideal for the English national team, who will be looking to the Dragons’ creative cog at the World Cup later this year.

Widdop is an absolute must for CEOs to consider captaining, having scored ten tries already this season as well as adding an impressive 15 try assists, including seven from his last four appearances – making him the competition’s most influential player this year.

Perhaps one of Widdop’s finest displays this season came in last week’s exceptional 52-22 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles, with the Englishman running the show from the halves. Widdop kicked eight goals during the game, as well as scoring one try and grabbing two assists, in a real man-of-the-match display.

It is not just Widdop that CEOs  should consider captaining heading into Round 21, with Jason Nightingale also in exceptional form for the Dragons. The winger has scored 12 tries this season – including three in his last two appearances – making him the club’s top scorer in 2017.

The New Zealander has also made a mammoth 2,422 metres from 263 carries, giving him an average gain of 9.2 metres and three metre eaters for the seasn. Nightingale’s fellow winger, Nane Macdonald, has made the most metres for the Dragons this season with 2,538 from 257 carries, giving him an average gain of 9.87 metres and six metre eaters.

Macdonald also offers a scoring threat, and despite not been quite as prolific as Nightingale on the opposite wing, he still has five tries to his name this season.

The Knights will be desperate to avenge the 32-28 defeat that the Dragons handed them in Round 16, but more important to Brown’s side will be giving themselves the best possible chance of avoiding the wooden spoon. However, they face a difficult task, with St George heading into Round 21 in exceptional form, with Widdop mesmerising anybody standing in his way.

CEOs will be looking at this fixture and taking the safe and sensible option by including Widdop in their team, with the hope he can continue his good form against the NRL’s bottom side. There is also good reason to include Nightingale in any team, whilst his fellow winger, Macdonald, could also do some damage to the opposition.

Captains Call: Round 21

Welcome to another edition of Captains Call.

Last week was an abomination, kickers and keepers in some leagues going down left, right and centre. James Maloney, Sam Burgess, Clint Gutherson, Trent Merrin, Tohu Harris, Matt Moylan were all very big injuries but none bigger than Cameron Smith. The ever reliable and rarely injured Smith came off a few minutes into the second half and didn’t return. This did affect his NRLCEO output as all he could manage was the two goals. The good news for a few of these players is the length of time they will be out for with Gutherson really the only one out for an extended period of time after rupturing his ACL.

A bloke who had no excuse was Josh McGuire who managed just 23 involvements in 49 minutes – that’s putrid. His only saving grace is he scored a try off a McCullough grubber.

The halves I chose were pretty ordinary to be honest with Michael Morgan coming up with another donut. Not the output many CEO’s would have hoped for.

Mitchell Pearce fared a little better although against Newcastle you would be forgiven for expecting more. A try and line break assist were his only stats.

The best of the week was Ash Taylor with a try assist and two line break assists, only marginally better than Pearce.

If you did pick a half last week I hope you picked different ones like Widdop, Sezer, Austin and Keary.

Lets preview five more for this week, lets hope we can find some that arent injured.

Dont forget to vote or leave a comment below.

 

Andrew McCullough (safe bet)

McCullough has been super consitent all year. He only has one score in double figures but besides one zero when he went off due to HIA he hasnt returned less than four points in a game. Against Parramatta expect pelnty of the same from McCullough, plenty of tackles with a few runs and maybe a try assist.

 

Ryan James (safe bet)

Coming off the back of his second double workhorse of the year I cant see James slowing up now. Against the Tigers I cant see a double coming, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he crossed for a try or two. He made an easy work horse earlier this season when the two teams met, expect a little more form him this week.

 

Jason Nightingale (risk and reward)

Last time the Dragons came up against the Knights, Nightingale had a field day scoring a hat trick. If last weeks game against Manly are anything to go by Dragons could score 80 this week. On the flip side it could be one of those games where Nightingale does absolutely nothing.

 

Joey Leilua (risk and reward)

On a good day Leilua is the most devastating centre in the game, on his worst day he is the worst player in the game. With not much more to play for this year and his partner in crime Rapana out this week, watch for BJ to get some early ball and wreak havoc on the Bunnies left edge.

 

Cody Walker (risk and reward)

The Raiders can be weak defensively up the middle and if they’re the same this weekend Walker could have a field day. Can be one of the most explosive fullbacks in the game on his day. With nothing but pride to play for it could be a massive game for him.

Who are you picking as captain for Round 21?