Category Archives: Trade Doctor

Who to “handcuff” with your NRLCEO kicker?

NRLCEO kicker handcuff

Managing your kicking position is an important aspect of your NRLCEO draft.  Standard leagues limit you to 10 kicking points (KP) – giving you room for only one primary kicker.  This means that you need to make sure you are either carrying their backup or are prepared to drop them should they miss time through injury or representative duties.

Kicker points for each player are identified by the $ value next to their club name on the player lists. Keep an eye on your total during the draft to make sure you can fit potential players into your team.

Maloney KP

Below is a breakdown of each team and their kicking options to help with your draft preparation.


Brisbane Broncos

First choice kicker: Corey Parker (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Jordan Kahu (2 KP)

Corey Parker averaged only 62 minutes per game in 2015 and will turn 34 mid way through the season.  It is painful to watch the Broncos score tries and your kicker off the field, not getting your NRLCEO team points.  Parker is no longer a strong kicking option, but is still likely to miss time to Origin.  If you take Parker make sure you pickup Kahu for the minimum three weeks he will miss.


Canberra Raiders

First choice kicker: Jarrod Croker (8 KP)
Back up kicker:  Aidan Sezer (2 KP)

Croker was the second most valuable NRLCEO kicker last year with 94 goals.  He is durable and NRLCEO coaches will benefit from him being too scrawny to ever get picked for Origin.  Sezer is the greatest backup kicker the NRL has ever seen, and a decent player in his own right.  But with Croker firmly entrenched you can afford to roll the dice without Sezer if a better halfback is still on the board. 


Canterbury Bulldogs

First choice kiker: Moses Mbye (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Tim Browne (0 KP)

If you pick up Moses Mbye as your goalkicker I can’t help you. He’s proven to be fairly wild so far, but the Dogs do score fairly well. On the back up bench is the greatest sight in rugby league. A prop who kicks goals! Fairly useless in NRLCEO value otherwise so no real reason to have him unless Mbye goes down with a season ending injury. 


Cronulla Sharks

First choice kicker: James Maloney (7 KP)
Back up kicker: Valentine Holmes (1 KP)

Maloney was the best NRLCEO goalkicker last year as well as a prolific scorer at the five eighth position.  He will be in the frame for Origin selection this year and having his backup is almost essential.  The fact Holmes is a decent tryscorer in his own right is just gravy.


Gold Coast Titans

First choice kicker: Tyrone Roberts (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Dan Mortimer (1 KP)

Ty-Rob is a boom or bust player kicking goals for the early favourites for the wooden spoon.  He might be a reasonable pickup as a kicker mid season if your primary goes down with an injury.  Dan Mortimer might have value in his own rights as a dual-position player, but as a backup kicker for such a woeful team there is no point in drafting him as a kicking option.


Manly Sea Eagles

First choice kicker: Jamie Lyon (7 KP)
Back up kickers: Dylan Walker (0 KP) or Feleti Mateo (0 KP)

Jamie Lyon is aging and coming off a season where he missed time to injury.  Having his backup is almost a necessity, but picking the backup might be harder.  Mateo was five from five last year but might struggle for minutes in a loaded Manly squad in 2016.  It is possible Walker, a career 2/3 goalkicker and 80 minute player in the Manly backline takes over as Lyon’s backup this year. 


Melbourne Storm

First choice kicker: Cameron Smith (7 KP)
Back up kicker: Tohu Harris (1 KP)

Smith will miss games due to Origin and perhaps more due to being 33 years old.  He is coming off one of his best years as a goalkicker, but if you pick Smith up in 2016 make sure you also get Harris, a workhorse capable backrower in his own right.


Newcastle Knights

First choicer kicker: Trent Hodkinson (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Dane Gagai (0 KP)

Hodkinson is the incumbent Blues halfback and a reasonable chance of missing games due to Origin.  He doesn’t score points freely and lacks the creativity as a halfback to create tries for his team (and therefore goal opportunities for himself).  However if you go down the path of drafting Hodkinson into your NRLCEO squad it might be worth taking a flyer on Gagai as his backup for 2016.


North Queensland Cowboys

First choice kicker: Johnathan Thurston (9 KP)
Back up kicker: Ethan Lowe (1 KP)

Thurston is an NRLCEO god.  If you get first pick in your draft, you take him.  He will also miss time due to Origin and there is always the threat of him being rested in late round games after the Cowboys have already secured a Top-4 finish.  This means you MUST have Lowe in your squad ready to step up if necessary.


New Zealand Warriors

First choice kicker: Shaun Johnson (7 KP)
Back up kicker: Tuimoala Lolohea (1 KP)

Johnson has missed several games due to injury in four out of five of his NRL seasons.  If you draft him for your fantasy team I’d strongly recommend taking Lolohea to save you when the injury bug strikes to save dropping Johnson to the free agency pool to pickup another kicker. 


Parramatta Eels

First choicer kicker: Michael Gordon (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Kieran Foran (0 KP)

Outside of injury plagued 2011/12 campaigns Gordon has been a consistent member of his first grade teams.  There are no noted backup kickers on the roster, and with Gordon unlikely to miss time I wouldn’t be overly concerned about drafting Foran into my team.


Penrith Panthers

First choice kicker: Jamie Soward (6 KP) or Matt Moylan (1 KP)

Picking the right Panthers kicker could be an exercise in futility before the trials.  Moylan only carries one kicking point on TheBench, and is worth a flyer on any team, but picking up Soward is a risky move.  I’d only look at him in a late round if you’ve already drafted Moylan as your primary fullback and are stuck with a choice between him and Mitchell Moses.


St George Illawarra Dragons

First choicer kicker: Gareth Widdop (6 KP)
Backup kicker: Benji Marshall (1 KP)

Widdop is durable but most importantly English.  A representative quality player who won’t miss time for rep games is a great pickup for any NRLCEO squad.  Marshall is a solid choice as a backup given his ability to score points in his own right as a halfback.


South Sydney Rabbitohs

First choice kicker: Adam Reynolds (8 KP)
Back up kicker: Bryson Goodwin (1 KP)

Reynolds is fairly durable and after last year unlikely to gain Origin selection.  As a kicker he is highly accurate, but after a disappointing season last year the Rabbitohs are a tough team to peg.  I am not keen on him as a first choice kicker, but you could do far worse.  Barring an unexpected injury I don’t expect Goodwin to get many shots at goal this year, but if Reynolds is your number 1 option you could do far worse than taking Goodwin in a late round.


Sydney Roosters

First choice kicker: Jackson Hastings (6 KP)
Back up kicker: Blake Ferguson (0 KP)

You want to sell me the goalkicker for the three time minor premiers on a late round pick?  Really?  Sounds too good to be true and it is.  With Maloney, RTS, and Jennings having moved on and Pearce and Cordner due for long stints on the sideline the Roosters won’t be good for many points this year.  With Hastings young, not in contention for a rep jumper and likely to be the #1 half for a long period there is little reason to worry about Ferguson in your squad for his kicking duties, but he is a good pick in his own right anyway. Siosiua Teukeiaho also kicked for the Jets in NSW Cup last year and I’d love to see another goal kicking forward, but it’s a long shot.


Wests Tigers

First choice kicker: Mitchell Moses (5 KP) or Justin Hunt (0 KP)

Rumours are swirling that Justin Hunt may be the first choice kicker over Mitch Moses.  This gives Hunt the ‘Moylan Bonus’ of being a possible first-choice kicker without the burden of kicking points on TheBench.  I’d leave Moses and his five kicking points alone based on his useless point scoring ability otherwise, but Hunt as a free kicker is intriguing.

Forwards to acquire


Blake Leary: Leary should be back in the next week and should slot into Manly’s pack straight away. He is the only decent forward for the Maroon and White’s and is worth four points a week when healthy.

Ben Creagh: Creagh has managed four straight workhorses playing in the front row for the Dragons. I was concerned he couldn’t keep it up with the return of Frizell, Thompson and De Belin but still managed to scrape 41 involvements against Souths. You’ll hate yourself for having him in your squad, but appreciate his versatility as a FR/BR.

Corey Parker: Parker is dual-listed, has a high workrate, will see more work with McGuire gone, kicks for the top-of-the-table Broncos and is a threat for more as an offload-machine. If you need more convincing than that, I can’t help you.

Paul Gallen: For the first time in memory Gallen is playing for the Sharks post-Origin. I think he will be keen to show that he can have his cake and eat it too by leading the Sharks to a mediocre eighth place finish and first week finals exit. And I’m happy to try and ride that out.

Luke Douglas: Douglas has been in beast mode for the Titans over the past month, recording over 50 involvements in three out of his last four matches. The only concern is how much time he spends lining up behind the goalposts in this rubbish outfit.

Adam Blair: Blair should see more minutes and work with McGuire out. He has three workhorses and a 39 in the last five matches and should at worst continue that type of production. A handy & versatile FR/BR pickup.

James Segeyaro: I have Segeyaro and am down on him myself. But that probably just means it is time to strike and try and steal him. Injuries have limited his effectiveness all year, but with Koroisau leaving Penrith for Manly at years end I can’t see Ivan Cleary keeping him on the bench for long. Segeyaro would be someone to try and put lowball, feeler-type offers out for and just see how you go.

Backs to Back at the Deadline

Backs to Back

For most people, the Trade Deadline is approaching either this Friday or next. Remember if you aren’t certain you can learn how to check when your deadline is here.

The deadline traditionally sees a spike in activity as coaches aim to shore up their rosters in a run to the finals. This week I am going to focus on a few players you may want to chase for a run home to the finals.


Jordan Kahu

Jordan Kahu:

Kahu is the backup kicker for the Broncos, instantly providing some value. His real value however is in two key factors: his triple position versatility and the fact he is playing on the wing for the league-leading broncos. Wingers traditionally outscore centres, so a player who plays on the wing but can be named in your NRLCEO centres holds great value.



Shaun Kenny- Dowall:

SKD meets similar criteria to Kahu in that he is on the end of a high scoring backline but can be named in your NRLCEO centres. Eight tries in his last six matches is also nothing to sneeze at.


Blake Ferguson of the Roosters makes a break against the Panthers during the round 3 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Monday, March 23, 2015. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING

Blake Ferguson:

Ferguson looked like he was returning to form last match. Sure he only scored two points but he well and truly passed the eye test. I expect him to improve, but he also could be a worthwhile trade candidate when other coaches might have soured on him a little.


Tuimala Lolohea

Tuimoala Lolohea:

The Other Lolo is again a winger who can be named to play as a 5/8. He has the benefit of playing down the edge of not only the destructive Konrad Hurrell but Shaun Johnson who has been on a tear of late. He has six tries in his last five games and is the best non-kicking 5/8 behind Blake Austin.


Sam Perrett

Sam Perrett:

Regular readers of this column (Hi Mum!) know that I am a big fan of Perrett when he is on the wing. With the Morris brothers back, there is no reason for him to play anywhere else.   Perrett has five tries in his seven games starting on the wing in 2015 which is a solid return. I have found him relatively easy to trade for in my leagues and he could be worth a sneaky offer in deadline week.


Jorge Taufua

Jorge Taufua:

Manly have remembered how to play football, even being installed as favourites to beat the Cowboys this week. One of the main reasons has been Brett Stewart roaming more in attack down Manly’s left edge, which has left Taufua as the main beneficiary. He may be hard to get after two explosive weeks, but I am trying my best in the league I don’t have him.


Notable Notes:

  • Sam Williams is out for six weeks in a bad blow for the Raiders. He has twelve try assists in only ten games this year, but unfortunately coaches have no choice but to drop him. Make sure you remember to do it before it is too late! His replacement looks iffy with Baptiste to get first crack this week.
  • Jarrod Croker faces an interesting situation as kicker with the Williams injury. Croker has been the best goalkicker in the league by a wide margin, but do the Raiders go as well with Williams out? I traded Croker for Parker today.
  • Kane Elgey should be back in the next week or so for the Titans. He is worth a look as a replacement to Williams if you are shorthanded.

How to locate your Trade Deadline

Not sure when the Trade Deadline is for your league?  The below steps will help you work it out:
Step One:  Select “My Profile” from the team menu at the top right-hand corner of TheBench.



Step Two:  Select the edit icon under the “Action” heading.





Step Three: You can view your Trade Deadline down the bottom left under the heading “Last Trade Round”.




What does this all mean?

  • You can make trades and drops up until the end of your Last Trade Round.  That means that if your Last Trade Round shows as Round 19, you can continue to trade and drop players right up until lockout at the start of round 20.
  • After your Last Trade Round, you can no longer trade (obviously!) but you also cannot ‘drop’ players.  This is to prevent coaches out of the running dropping players for another coach to pick up.  However you can still pick up free agents if you clear a roster spot before the deadline (recommended).




Does the NRL need a draft?

NRL Draft

Over the past year support has been growing for an NRL Rookie Draft.

Shane Richardson has been quoted as saying he thinks “it is the only way forward”. I found myself feeling staunchly against the idea and wanted to explore the concept a little further.



The key claimed benefits that I can see for a rookie draft are;

  • Centralised funding of juniors
  • Evening of the playing field in access to junior talent
  • Evening out the competition
  • Increased media exposure and publicity of rugby league


Centralised funding of juniors

Rugby League currently has a structure where NRL clubs run their own youth development. Clubs scout, recruit and train their own junior teams from Under-16s and up with the primary intent of developing talent for their NYC and NRL rosters down the line.

Obviously an NRL Rookie Draft would cause chaos to this system. Clubs aren’t in the business of developing players that will simply up and leave the minute they hit a certain age. As a result, the only way the draft idea could go ahead would be if the NRL took over funding junior development. Is this a good idea though?

NRL clubs presently have a vested interest in developing their talent. This means there is a potential payoff or reward in spending more. If the NRL takes over with a centralised funding model, what is their incentive to spend heavily on development? I understand that developing juniors is expensive and many NRL clubs may not feel the incentives are there under the current salary-cap model. But why change the entire system rather than a few tweaks to the long-serving player allowance and second tier cap?

Some may argue that as the NRL has a vested interest in putting on a quality product, it would have incentive to spend on player development under the centralised model. Whilst it is true that better players can aid creating a better product, I find it hard to believe the slight increases in performance that may be gained be investing extra funds in youth development would yield dividends for the NRL. Where an NRL club may be willing to spend extra for a competitive advantage over rivals, the incentive just isn’t there for the NRL to keep increasing a centralised spending pool.

The major US Sports all have a draft model, but that is done under a completely different economic environment. In the US the collegiate and even high school systems are extremely well funded and have their own vested interests in developing talent. Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan is the second largest stadium in the world and has a capacity well exceeding 100,000. There is no need for the NFL to stump up funding for junior development, and like the current club funded model in the NRL, colleges act as the vested interests that will spend top dollar on player development.


Evening of the playing field in access to junior talent

An argument could be made that with a Rookie Draft the access to junior talent would be more evenly spread. As it stands Parramatta and Penrith have access to the largest junior rugby league nurseries and best access to sign young developing talent. Teams such as the Roosters may be heavily supported but struggle with geography and demographics of the area not affording them the same luxury.

If talent is centrally developed, and then farmed out to clubs via a draft, all clubs would have equal access. I do not disagree with this point but I do feel it is being oversold. Being a Manly fan myself my examples may be limited but Brett & Glenn Stewart were juniors from the Illawarra area and came to join the Sea Eagles after they were scouted and offered deals. Daly Cherry-Evans hails from Queensland, but was signed on to play with Manly in the NYC before developing into the star that he is today. Just because there isn’t the strong junior base in your area doesn’t mean a club can’t be competitive in securing and developing young talent.

The next issue this raises, is what if a player does not want to go to the club that drafts him? Is the player stuck for a fixed term? How long before he can leave? What if a player has a family reason for wanting to remain in Sydney, but is drafted by the NZ Warriors? What about all the poor kiwi kids expected to move country at a young age to work for a relative pittance an NRL club somewhere in Australia? All of these questions become a lot more problematic when the NRL can’t pay the wages of an American sports team where players can afford to ship their families with them, or doesn’t have a trading system like the AFL where players can be sent home in return for other picks or players.

If the system isn’t broken, what are we trying to fix?


Evening out the competition

The notion that a draft would help even out talent across the NRL is simply ludicrous.   More even like the AFL, where the bottom team over the last four years has averaged 2.5 wins per season? More even like the NBA, where the bottom team went 16-66 in a race to tank to the bottom? The Minnesota Timberwolves have been in the lottery (had high picks) for 11 straight years. A whole lot of good high picks have done them.

The NRL is currently the most competitive and even sporting competition I am aware of in the world. A Rookie Draft would have little to no impact to this.

Leaving aside the major issue of teams intentionally losing matches to improve their draft position, others willing to put in much more research than myself have shown that high draft picks have a poor correlation with future success.   Out of the last 25 NBA drafts, only one player drafted first overall has gone on to win a championship with the team that selected him (Tim Duncan).

The unrestricted free agency model of the NRL is a strength, not a weakness. Players including outright stars frequently change clubs. As a result the fortunes of teams are always rising or falling and it is rare for a club to be out of the finals for more than a couple of years in a row.

If a Draft model were to go ahead in Rugby League, at what age do we list players for draft? With the impending death of the NYC, do all players become draft eligible at 17? 18? If the intention of the draft is to even the competition, there are very few players who are going to be ready for first grade a that age let alone capable of changing the fortunes of a struggling team. Front-rowers typically don’t mature until their mid-20s. What club is going to draft a player who won’t play first grade for half a decade? And if the argument is ‘clubs with foresight will’ then the very notion of a draft to help teams at the bottom of the ladder improve is bullshit. I might sound as credible as an old man yelling ‘get off my lawn’ at this point, but if something isn’t broken, what are we trying to fix?


Increased media exposure and publicity of rugby league

And now I think we get to the real reason an NRL Draft may happen. Despite all evidence that it does little in the short to medium term to help struggling teams improve, I won’t be surprised to see an NRL Draft come into play in the next decade. Because a Draft costs money.

An NRL Draft is something that will generate enormous media and fan interest in the game. The wall to wall media coverage that could be expected in the lead up is a massive advertising free kick without the need to spend a cent.  The idea is that fans will be buzzing discussing the top picks in the coming draft and it will keep rugby league as the key topic around the water-cooler into the off season (assuming that is when the draft is held). There is one problem with this idea though: fans won’t know the players.

The major reason that the drafts for US sports is such huge entertainment is that fans already know the players. The NBA has a rule that players must be one year removed from high-school before being eligible to enter the draft. This essentially means players spend a year in college basketball, in itself a multi-billion dollar industry, televised for fans around the globe. Players like the recently drafted Anthony Davis are household names before they even become eligible for the NBA. There are websites such as devoted to scouting and statistical and video breakdowns of propects. As a result fans have a reason to be excited when their team has a high pick. It essentially means the right to a player they already know and love.

In the NRL given the coming death of the NYC (itself only televised one game a week) fans will be relying on scouting reports from media outlets like the Telegraph for a summary of a potential draftees strengths and weaknesses. Excuse me if that doesn’t give me cause for enthusiasm.


Problems with the NRL Draft

An NRL Draft has many flaws though, which I will list again below for simplicity. It fits along the lines of other recent NRL ‘improvements’, including the ‘no-punch’ rule (which has seen an increase in niggling and grub tactics as players like Luke Brooks don’t fear repercussion) and a poor interpretation of the shoulder charge (which regularly sees players merely bracing themselves against bigger men like Konrad Hurrell penalised).

  • Incentivising clubs to tank (and associated costs)
  • Forcing players to move away from family at a young age (for poor wages)
  • Little incentive to increase development spend
  • NRL players are rarely ready to contribute when younger than 20
  • Less than anticipated fan interest in the draft (stemming from not knowing the players)
  • No tangible increase in the closeness of the competition

Trade Talk: Keep or Sweep?


It has been a couple of weeks since my last Keep or Sweep post, as it became hard to find new players on-the-rise or to trash mid-season. Sure there have been some misses (if only I could somehow get the Commish to shut up about Rona) but I am still batting above 0.500 on the year.

And hey, I got the dual-listed duo of Gagai and Frizell for Rona and the useless Mitch Rein, so I don’t feel too bad on that.



Jake Mamo

Jake Mamo

Mamo should be a free-agent in most leagues and was excellent starting at fullback last week. It is hard to know what Rick Stone will do up in Newcastle, but with Gidley and perhaps Ty-Rob moving on next year it is reasonable to assume they will let Mamo take on the fullback spot for the rest of the year. This means that in a couple of weeks Mamo should earn dual-listing and be a reasonable 2nd or 3rd string guy to see out the season.

I wouldn’t give up anything for Mamo, but I’d have a look in your free agent pool and consider adding him as some depth to your squad.


Robbie Rochow

Robbie Rochow

Rochow might have been picked up again after returning from injury, but this is a short-term solution. Whilst Rochow hasn’t scored a workhorse this year, I expect that to change starting tonight. Houston, Fa’alogo and Smith are out for between 1-4 weeks each and Stockwell is gone for the season leaving Rochow as the last man standing to start at lock.

Rochow was a weekly workhorse candidate in seasons gone by and also a threat for the occasional try. I have picked him up hoping to get a few weeks of solid play out of him heading toward the end of the season, but I will re-evaluate whether I keep him after the deadline over the next fortnight.


Shaun Kenny-Dowall

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

SKD has kept chugging along all year despite being shifted between centre and wing. He is dual-listed gold and doesn’t have to play next to that god-awful assist-dropper Dan Tupou. With the Roosters returning to a full-strength backline SKD gets to shift to the wing where he can be the guy who just needs to put the ball down over the line outside representative players in Pearce and Ferguson.

I really like SKD as a scorer in his own right, but the dual-listing has me salivating over him. He is the main target for me in trades this week.



Boyd Cordner

Boyd Cordner

I couldn’t rate Cordner highly enough coming into this year. In his last 8 matches last year he scored 7WHs, 3 tries, 5 LBs. But in his most recent 4 matches he has a total of 4 points from a one-off workhorse.

Cordner has always been an edge-runner in attack, which aided him in scoring tries running off passes from Mitchell Pearce close to the line. However he also seems to be defending wider this year than he did at the end of 2014 and isn’t getting the big numbers he was capable of.

I loved Cordner so much in the pre-season that I am torn between ditching him (in the league I have him) and trying to pick him up where I don’t. But I don’t have the faith to start him at the moment and have shifted him to the bench. I am not in a position to withstand any more scoreless matches from a backrower right now.


Mitch Aubusson

Mitchell Aubusson

Aubusson has been great with his versatility, but with Ferguson returning he won’t see time in the backline (barring Origin week) and the Roosters are stacked in the back row. Aubo becomes a victim of his own versatility and barring injury won’t be worthy of a spot in your NRLCEO squad for much longer. I’d try and capitalise on his recent good form and net back a starting player in your position of need.


Josh Dugan

Josh Dugan

Dugan has scored six points in his last seven matches. I don’t need to tell you that is utter garbage. But wow, he has been worse than I thought. The NSW fullback has a grand total of three tries and two try-assists all season.

I’m not sure you can get much of a return for Dugan, but send offers to everyone and hope someone bites on the name? Most leagues have at least one numpty who might bite.

Planning for the Trade Deadline

Trade Deadline

It is starting to edge closer to that desperate time of the season for NRLCEO coaches – the Trade Deadline. Whilst not as important as the draft, many seasons are won and lost with poor planning and preparation for the deadline.

The standard Last Trade Round set for most competitions is Round 19 of a 26 round season. That means you can only make trades with opposition CEOs up until lockout of the next round set by your competition creator.  For example, if your Late Trade Round is Round 19, you can make trades up until lockout of the first game in Round 20.

Last Trade Round

The last squad change means the last round you can cut players from your squad. Importantly you can still sign new players after this time if you have positions available in your squad.

Last Squad Change


How to find your deadlines

There are two ways to find your deadline. The easiest is to go to the home page and click the “View Full Ladder” link. If you have a deadline it will appear in the left hand column, if you don’t it will not appear here.


The second way to find it is to click the drop down at the top right of the page, and then click “My Profile” and then click the edit icon displayed below for the competition you need.

Edit Team

There are several key steps you should start taking to make sure you are ready for the end of season run.


1. Get your backup kicker

There is nothing worse than being at the top of the leaderboard, charging towards the playoffs only to have your kick go down after the deadline. It is too late to drop your kicker and kicking points will stop you from picking anyone up otherwise. It is imperative you start trying to acquire the backup now, as it may take a lot of wrangling for someone to give up an Issac Luke or Ethan Lowe type.


2. Start looking for dual-position players

It is worth looking for dual-listed guys, particularly if you have a squad limit lower than 25. The ability to slot a Naiqama or SKD into either centre or wing gives you added flexibility in working out which piece-of-shit free agent to slot into your backline when injury strikes.


3. Free up some roster space

You should make sure you have at least one, possibly two free spaces on your roster at the deadline. This enables you to pick up players in the event of an injury crisis or boom rookie winger being blooded late in the season.

A trade too good to be true?


Taking a departure from my Keep or Sweep article after last weeks’ awful review, this week I answer a trade question from long time struggling NRLCEO coach @Rhyannaj

‘I’ve been offered Konrad Hurrell and Antonio Winterstein for Reece Robinson and Joseph Paulo.  Should I accept?’

Reece Robinson has scored 40 points in 11 matches for the Eels, which is well above my personal expectations.  I’m still personally shocked the Eels have scored 40 points with their dodgy roster.  Approximately four points per game is where I set my benchmark for a player and Robinson is right around that mark.

Joseph Paulo is done.  He is useless. He has scored 6]sjx NRLCEO points this year and has now been dropped.  Why anyone would carry him is beyond me.

Konrad Hurrell has had a down year, managing to roll injury, suspension and poor form into one very average package.  He has scored nine points in five starts, after averaging nearly five points per game in 2014.  He currently has one more match to sit out due to suspension & will need to win back his spot in first grade in a Warriors team currently on a three match winning streak.

Antonio Winterstein has managed to somehow be more useless in 2015 than Konrad Hurrell.  He has scored 20 points in 10 matches despite playing on the flank for the team sitting 3rd in the premiership.   All this after averaging 4 points per game last year.

Hurrell and Winterstein are two players down on form and scoring well below their career averages.  The question is whether you see this as a trend that continues.  I personally can’t see it.  Hurrell himself was an out an out NRLCEO star last year.  I’d be happy to have him in my squad now and bank on the big man turning it all around.  Winterstein has just turned 27 and should still be in his prime.  He plays for the Cowboys who currently have the 3rd ranked attack in the NRL.  Sure playing outside the offensively-inept Kane Linnett doesn’t help, but Winterstein managed to be a solid contributor with this impediment before and I anticipate he will do so again.


The Doctors Verdict

This trade seems almost too good to be true.  You mean I can give up an average winger for the future Wooden-Spooner’s for Hurrell and Winterstein?  Even though they have each had an average start to the year this is definitely a trade I accept.  And quickly.

Trade Talk: Keep or Sweep?


Before we get into this week’s recommended trades let’s recap on what the Trade Doctor prescribed last time around…


Players to Sweep

Player Avg pts


Avg pts

Rd 1-7

Avg pts

Rd 8-11

Was I


Matt Ballin 4 4 3 Ballin’s points dropped marginally, but Manly have since decided he is an 80 minute player again.  Look for Ballin to continue scoring 4 points through 50 tackles with bugger all runs for the rest of time.
Luke Lewis 2 3.3 5.7 Anyone who dropped Lewis when I said to has a right to be bloody pissed off!  The Gallen injury combined with some vintage try-scoring form has seen Lewis become a fantasy stud for the past month.  I still say you should trade him while his value is high, and surely it can’t get higher than now?
Anthony Watmough 4 3 3 Watmough is still a useless old bastard.  Three straight low scoring matches for the Eels have seen him manage an average of 40 involvements over the past month, but that isn’t good enough for someone with his workhorse reputation.  I traded him and it was cleansing for the soul to see him gone.


Players to Keep

Player Avg pts


Avg pts

Rd 1-7

Avg pts

Rd 8-11

Was I


Dane Gagai 2 4 1 Gagai was moved to fullback and has become a dud.  Even when Mullen returns and Coach Stone decides another reshuffle is in order, there is no guarantee Gagai moves back to the centres. If he can convince Stone that him moving to fullback has resulted in four straight losses and centre is where he needs to be, his value should rebuild.
Tom Burgess 1 2 2 ? Tom Burgess hasn’t lived up to what I expected involvements wise, but has earnt a promotion to the starting lineup over brother George this week.  He has looked good in games, and I am still holding on to him for now.
Dylan Napa 1 3 0 To round out a truly shitty week for my predictions, Napa has gone from great to absolute fantasy dud since I mentioned him as a good pick-up candidate.  He might have been close to an Origin call up, but he hasn’t been close to an NRLCEO point in a month.  I don’t know what to say but ‘I’m sorry’ if you followed this one.


Now on to this week…

Players to Sweep

Dane Gagai

Dane Gagai

Gagai has been slotted into fullback at the Knights, and could be there for the foreseeable future.  He has been a non-factor since moving there and has only 4 points in the last 4 weeks.  I was high on Gagai, and will be again if he is moved back to centre.  But for now; no thanks.


Ben Spina

Ben Spina

Spina will see his value plummet over coming rounds.  The return of Taumololo means that Spina will struggle for minutes when the Origin boys aren’t in camp.  Couple that with bye weeks coming and Bolton returning in a month and I see Spina struggling to score more than a couple more workhorses this year.


Jordan Rapana

Jordan Rapana

I loved Rapana mere weeks ago, but I never want to hear the word ‘indefinite’ when describing an injury.  I have out and out dropped him and moved on.  Keep your ear to the ground for a return date, but I couldn’t afford to carry his dead weight through the bye rounds when I’m scraping for every starter I can find.


Players to Keep

Dene Halatau

Dene Halatau

Halatau is a fringe player at best, but with the injury to Farah may see a solid month of football for the Tigers.  He is a tackle-pig who should be good for a workhorse most weeks with Farah out.


Brad Takairangi

Brad Takairangi

I had figured Takairangi’s early season was an outlier and he would regress to the mean eventually in a poor performing team.  For now though he is still averaging four points a game.  Maybe all a centre needs is to pass to Radradra and live off try assists?


Tepai Moeroa

Tepai Moeroa

Moeroa has come back to first grade with a vengeance posting 47 and 53 involvements respectively.  It’s hard to say what his long term future will be with Beau Scott linking with Watmough and Ma’u in the Eels backrow for next year, but for now Moeroa is a solid pickup.

Trade Talk: Keep or Sweep?


Based on my current form, I strongly recommend holding any of my Sweep candidates for one more week. Most seem to have a blinder the minute I recommend dropping them. Thankfully though most come crashing to earth shortly after, giving me a respectable record on the season.

This week’s recap features a few where it is hard to say whether I made a good call or not. My Keep candidates all improved their scoring averages, but some of the Sweep’s look good to go again. In fact one of them I recommend trying to trade in ASAP.


Players to Sweep from 14th April

Player Avg pts


Avg pts

Rd 1-5

Avg pts

Rd 6-9

Was I


Curtis Rona 5 6.6 5 Not sure… Hard to say on this one. I still think trading Rona whilst his value is high is a good idea, but with Josh Morris and halfback James Graham returning I expect Rona to be improving again. He has averaged fewer points since I said to trade him, but right now I’d want him back.
Peta Hiku 4 2.4 2.5 Yep Hiku has been useless so far in 2015.   He is about to pick up in value though as Manly look to get all of their guns back. I think I was right to suggest trading him, but now is a time to consider getting him back before his value rises again.
Luke Douglas 2 3.2 3.25 Possibly not Douglas has missed a couple of workhorses, but has otherwise been chugging along. What I said about Douglas was “(he) still holds value as he won’t play origin and should score big numbers when Myles and Bird leave town for camp. But he does have some risk now that he didn’t look to have a fortnight ago.   Consider trading him if you can get a strong return.”

With Bird set for a long stint on the sideline Douglas has value. He is worth 4 points most weeks, but isn’t much of an NRLCEO matchwinner. He is a starting prop in most squads though.

Luke Keary 3 2.4 3.25 Nope Keary’s average points have increased, but that four game sample went 0, 2, 11, 0. He isn’t exactly reliable and I wouldn’t want him as a starter.   However he is now dual listed as 5/8-Halfback and has great value as backup coverage that you ideally don’t want to play.


Players to Keep from 14th April

Player Avg pts


Avg pts

Rd 1-5

Avg pts

Rd 6-9

Was I


Jamie Buhrer 4 1.75 5.3 Yep Well, what I said was right, but a season ending injury has cruelled Buhrer’s season.

I’ll chalk this one up as a win, cause it really isn’t my week otherwise!

Waqa Blake 1 2.5 Nope Blake might have secured a long term spot in the Panthers side, but he hasn’t set the world alight yet.   Hopefully his form picks up but he hasn’t been as good as I expected yet.
Lachlan Coote 2 4.5 Yep Coote has looked much better, as have the Cowboys. This was a great pickup and I’d still love to have him in my squad.
Jake Trbojevic 1 2.25 Yep I’m still happy to have Jake Turbo.   He has (at least temporarily) secured a starting position and has passed the ‘eye-test’ with flying colours.   If you are thin up front he is still a good option.


Now on to this week…

Players to Sweep

Justin O'Neill

Justin O’Neill

I like centre/wingers who play on the wing, but they lose value when shifted to centre. Too often he will now be cut out of a backline movement by a roving half or fullback, or hand off only for Wright to score on the wing. O’Neill might go ok, but I’m less excited owning him than I was a fortnight ago.


Dane Gagai

Dane Gagai

Rick Stone has decided Sione Mata-utai isn’t ready for fullback and has shifted Gagai to the back. Even though they don’t have an attacking relationship like a Gidley/Tahu, I loved Gagai lining up next to Uate. They are both so damaging in their own right and able to back each other up for NRLCEO points. However at fullback, Gagai hasn’t shown anything to keep me excited. With Mullen out a while and Gidley shifted to the halves, the move could be long term. Why Jake Mamo can’t get a run is beyond me.


Mitchell Moses

Mitchell Moses

I’m ready to call it on Mitch Moses: he isn’t an NRL quality half at this point of his career. Three try-assists through nine games sounds bad. Two tackle breaks through nine games is bloody awful. Eight NRLCEO points in nine games is just sad.


Dylan Napa

Dylan Napa

I was all about Dylan Napa in the preseason, but his numbers have dropped off in the last two weeks. He will come good again during origin, but the strength of the Roosters bench seems to be limiting his NRLCEO impact. Keep him throughout Origin if you are middle of the pack, but trade him if you are up top and can afford to risk some short term losses for long term gain. He may not be all too helpful come finals time.


Players to Keep

Blake Leary

Blake Leary

I’ll leave it to Geoff to sell Leary to you in this weeks Workhorse Watch. But I’ll add that he has won a starting spot at Manly and has looked to be the best forward (bar Buhrer) on the roster when he has played. I am honouring Blake by naming him Captain this week in the Champions League.


Peta Hiku

Peta Hiku

Manly are starting to look good and Hiku has moved back to the wing. I doubt many coaches are going to be holding on to Hiku too hard so you might get him on the cheap. I’ll be trying to get him from unsuspecting coaches in my leagues.


Billy Slater2

Billy Slater

Slater have a big performance before his injury and an even bigger one on return. He has 18 NRLCEO points in his last two matches and looks to be on the up. Sure, he will miss time due to Origin, but if you can afford to nab him now he could be a match-winner in his own right late in the season.


Gavin Cooper

Gavin Cooper

Cooper is getting bigger numbers and being a more focal point of the Cowboys attack. Through five rounds he had three tackle breaks, and has had ten in the last four. Whilst this doesn’t directly lead to NRLCEO points, an 80 minute workhorse candidate who is repaying his coach’s faith and putting himself in position for linebreaks is someone I’d want in my team. Cooper will go close to Origin selection, so you might want to hold out until teams are announced before making a move.