Category Archives: Weekly Previews

Supporters League Preliminary Finals Previews

2016 NRLCEO Supporters League Update

With just one round to go until the Supporters League Grand Finals, it’s time to preview each of the competitions. From 16 teams at the start of the year, we are now down to four and it’s getting tense because on the line for the winners is an NRL jersey of their choice! You would hope they pick the team they are representing…

 

Supporters League I

Supporters League I Prelims

Last week we said farewell to Incudan’s Tigers and Gal’s Sharks with neither worrying their rivals too much. The Tigers went down to the Roosters 58-49 and the Sharks were spanked by the Titans 83-42 on the back of 18 points to Suliasi Vunivalu, 18 points to kicker Nathan Cleary and 26 points to captain Ryan James.

The first Preliminary Final sees one of the oldest NRLCEO rivalries in history. These two fierce rivals have been playing against each other on NRLCEO since 1998! Site founder Mig’s Broncos slayed everyone before them in the regular season finishing as Minor Premiers and being the only team to score more than 1,000 points. Despite being on a six game winning streak, the last team to beat them was… the Titans! Captaincy selection will be crucial for Mig as the Broncos take on the Storm in the NRL and points will be hard to come by. This conundrum will be music to Bona’s Titans as his mixed rabble of troops have many different match-ups this week. I tipped them to win 13+ and they did that easily! Bona will be hoping for a free flowing game between the Titans and Panthers so that Ryan James and Nathan Cleary can fire, but they surely can’t score the same points as last week. Someway, somehow the Broncos will manage to win this one 1-12.

The core of AC’s Bulldogs have put him in a great position so far this year. Having the overall top scoring player in James Graham as well as Dream Team prop Aiden Tolman means he is guaranteed 10-16 points from his bookends each week. That will get you to the finals, but it won’t win you games. His Dogs take on the Cowboys in the NRL with a top four spot on the line, so I can’t see it being high scoring. Skeeny’s Roosters have come from fifth in the regular season to find themselves one win away from a Grand Final. These two teams met each other back in Round 20 with the Roosters taking the win 38-30, but I think the Bulldogs will get revenge and come back and win 1-12 in a game where both teams finish under 50 points.

 

Supporters League II

Supporters League II Prelims

This was a tough one for me to write this week as my mighty Raiders were knocked out last week despite scoring 70 points and having Vunivalu score four tries! Full credit to JP’s Roosters for the 75-70 win – I believe he’s the form CEO in all competitions at the moment winning all three of his semi finals. The other team knocked out was Bish’s Eels who failed to raise the bat and went down 54-45.

The first Preliminary Final sees Rock Hudson’s Broncos raring to go after the week off for winning in the first week of finals. He finished fourth on the ladder for the regular season but relies heavily on Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford and in some terrible timing for him, the Broncos face the Storm in the NRL this week. He recently picked up Aidan Guerra after his week in reserve grade and will be hoping he fires. In the way of a Grand Final appearance is JP’s Roosters who I mentioned earlier are the form team of the competition. He pulled off a master stroke last week changing his captain from Boyd Cordner to Blake Ferguson with five minutes to go which ultimate got him the win. He relies heavily on Nathan Cleary and will be hoping the Panthers put a cricket score on the Titans. I want the Roosters to win but I think the Broncos will win this one 1-12.

The Bulldogs CEO ‘337’ is pretty confident heading into this game. After finishing second on the regular season ladder, but being the only team to score 1,000 points for the year, the Bulldogs beat the Roosters easily back in the first week of the finals. They’ve won six of their last seven games and have a strong Bulldogs core topped with Marika Koroibete and BJ Leilua. I tipped Deano’s Cowboys to win last week and they didn’t let me down. They were far from convincing last week relying heavily of Johnathan Thurston’s 19 points and will be hoping for a better captaincy selection this week after Latrell Mitchell only scored two last week. Weighing it all up, I’ll back the Bulldogs 1-12.

 

Supporters League III

Supporters League III Prelims

The semi finals saw Cabeman’s Broncos and Pokerface86’s Warriors punted from the third Supporters League. Cabeman will be disappointed his Broncos didn’t put up a better fight going down 53-36 but his season was as good as over when the Broncos only put up 20 points and his kicker lost the kicking tee to Jordan Kahu. The Warriors would have made the big show in many other head to heads going down 62-58 in a tight but high scoring battle.

The first Preliminary Final has a name you might recognise in it. JP’s Roosters are in the Prelims for both Supporters League II and III. He adopted the team post draft from his brother who could no longer commit to the game and has taken both teams to great heights despite the Roosters being third last on the NRL ladder! Like his other team he has profited from the superb form of Nathan Cleary with the ball in hand and on the tee. They are taking on Matt’s Tigers who are short one James Tedesco but fortunately for him, he was the one who snaffled Jarryd Hayne back on that fateful night of hell on the site. I didn’t back the Tigers last week and they proved me wrong, but I’ll back them this week as I think the Roosters luck might just run out! Tigers 1-12.

The second preliminary final sees the two most powerful teams in this league go head to head and only one can progress to the Grand Final! This is the only Supporters League where two teams scored more than 1,000 points and coincidentally it was these two teams who finished first and second. Troy’s Cowboys are a model of consistency and have been all year. They have scored 50 or more in three of their last four appearances and nothing less than 50 points will get the win in this battle. Their team is strong across the park with Klemmer, Lowe, Cooper and JWH leading the charge but it all boils down to the halves whether they win this week. Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan will need to dominate the Dogs in the NRL to rack up the fantasy points here. Melb’s Storm finished as Minor Premiers but fell in the first week against the Roosters. They’ve since fought back with a big 62 points last week getting their title challenge back on track. Their forward pack looks weaker than the Cowboys with Bromwich and Soliola not getting the minutes lately, but can Cronk and Smith get them over the line? I think they will – Storm 1-12.

 

Supporters League IV

Supporters League IV Prelims

I only tipped one from two in this league last week with Jamie’s Storm and Cara’s Broncos being bundled out of contention. The Storm fought hard but were no chance against as rampant Raiders, going down 68-45. I tipped the Broncos to get up but Cara will be shattered her NRLCEO debut season ended in disappointment, losing 42-35 to the Eels.

The first preliminary final sees NRLCEO live stats manager Sheriff and his Bulldogs up for a high scoring battle. The Dogs were dominant all year losing only five games and smashing the Eels in the first week of finals. They have scored 48 points or more every week since Round 14 which shows just how hard they are to beat! Even in Round 20 when the Dogs were smashed in the NRL by the Cowboys 36-0 they still managed 51 NRLCEO points! They’ll need an even better performance than that this time around though to make it to the big show. Rocky7st’s Raiders have come from the furthest point on the ladder out of all the leagues to get to the prelims. After finishing seventh in the regular season, the Raiders red hot form in the NRL has seen them go on a hot streak of 68, 43, 65, 49 and 54 points for the past five rounds. With Jarrod Croker, Cam Munster, Suliasi Vunivalu and Nathan Cleary in the squad I think they’ll continue their run and win this battle 1-12.

The final game of all sees Ambrose’s Warriors take to the field. After finishing second in the regular season they are on a seven game unbeaten streak and look like a tough team to beat! With Greg Inglis, Tom Trbojevic and Bevan French lining up alongside Shaun Johnson, Bodene Thompson and Simon Mannering it’s no wonder they are destroying teams in their way. But never write off a team with their backs against the walls. The NRL has been cruel to the Eels this year but Czerny hopes his NRLCEO Eels will bring home some success. I have to tip the Warriors though – 1-12.

 

Good luck to all the finalists!

Supporters League Finals Preview

2016 NRLCEO Supporters League Update

After 23 rounds of the regular season it’s time for finals in the four Supporters Leagues!

As we know in the NRL, no one remembers the Minor Premier, so it’s all on the line for the next four weeks. We follow the same McIntyre Finals system for these competitions to once again replicate the NRL as much as possible.

Remember it’s not just bragging rights on the line in these competitions. The winner of each league will receive an NRL jersey from the team of their choice to wear loudly and proudly.

So thank you to all 64 teams who competed in this years Supporters Leagues, but now it’s time to turn our attention to the top eight in each competition as we preview Round 1 of the finals.

 

Supporters League I

Supporters League I

He’s probably the most successful public league NRLCEO of all time, but he just keeps choking in his own private league each year –  Coach Mig will be hoping his Broncos will go all the way in this league and it’s hard to argue against it. He’s the only one to crack 1,000 points for the year but has only cracked 50 points once in the last six weeks. He’ll be taking on Coach Incudan’s Tigers who has a very strong Tigers backline coupled with a forward pack of Aaron Woods, Michael Lichaa, Jack De Belin, Bryce Cartwright, SST and Elijah Taylor. Fortunately for Mig the Broncos play the Eels in real life with nothing to play for and therefore should sneak home in this one.

The Bulldogs and Titans both finished on 13 wins out of a possible 20 rounds to be split only by for and against on the table. They last played each other in Round 8 with the Bulldogs winning comfortably 44-29, but this is the finals – anything can happen! This is Bulldogs coach AC’s only NRLCEO team which means all his focus on this very squad. I worry for his squad though with Josh Dugan’s last try assist 502 days ago, Blake Ayshford out of the starting line-up and Cameron McInnes dropped by the Bunnies. Coach Bona is the Titans CEO and also one of the original founding members of NRLCEO so he is one of the six most experienced CEOs in the game. Despite having only two Titans left in his squad (Ryan James and Zeb Taia) he has recruited expertly to have Cameron Munster, Suliasi Vunivlau, Josh Mansour and Nathan Cleary for a quality background all round. I’m tipping the Titans to win 1-12.

In the first knockout final, the Roosters are high on confidence at the right end of the year scoring over 50 points in the last two weeks. Coach Skeeny is pinning his hopes on the consistency of Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner, but I worry for him as he doesn’t have a recognised kicker. The Raiders on the other hand are lead by experience CEO Nute who is into his sixth season. They have been winning thanks to the kicking boot of Jarrod Croker, but this week won’t be as easy against the Storm. I’ll tip the Raiders in a very tight game.

In the last knock-out game the Eels finally have something to play for this season and they take on the Sharks for a place in the next round. Coach Matthew works for a building company, but his NRLCEO team the Sharks has been building nicely all year too. He’s been averaging just over 50 points per game for the last four rounds so is finding form at the right end of the season. His Sharks dominated side looks quality with a sprinkling of Marika Koroibete and Daniel Tupou alongside Valentine Holmes. The Eels will hope to welcome back Semi Radradra who won the title for the Eels team in last year’s inaugural Supporters League, but unfortunately Tyrone Roberts has lost the kicking duties at the worst possible time. Sharks to win 13+.

 

Supporters League II

Supporters League II

Congratulations to the Cowboys for taking our the Minor Premiership in this competition by a massive eight points on the table and with an outstanding points differentials of +400! The Cowboys coach Deano is one of the six CEOs from the very first NRLCEO competition over 15 years ago! You wouldn’t believe it but taking them on is another one of the original CEOs, Rock Hudson. Their rivalry extends 15 years but with Latrell Mitchell, Bevan French, Konrad Hurrell, Michael Morgan, Johnathan Thurston, Jake Granville and Dale Finucane, I can’t go past the Cowboys in this one.

The Bulldogs CEO, known only as 337, will be pretty confident of progressing to the next stage after losing only five matches all year. The only problem for them is they don’t have a kicker! Connor Watson has been giving the kicking tee this week, but unless SST gets run over on the way to the game he won’t kick. The Roosters, coached by JP from Wagga Wagga, pinched this position from my beloved Raiders after the whistle last weekend. They needed a post game upgrade for James Fisher Harris from 39 to 40 involvements to knock me from 3rd to 7th! So I know how good they can be. 21 points from Nathan Cleary last weekend got them to this position, but JP won’t be happy Aiden Guerra got the chop and he’s had to madly scramble for a new face. John Sutton is the desperate choice. The Dogs are my pick in this one.

The Eels and the Storm have been fluctuating between 4th and 10th all season, but the Eels made it into 5th and the Storm just snuck into the eight on points differential. This is a tight one to call! The Eels CEO Bish will be hoping to welcome back Semi Radradra this week and will hope that Michael Gordon can knock a few over against the Broncos this weekend too. Despite finishing lower on the table I like the Storm to win this game. If they can score some points against the Raiders then I think Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk and Cam Munster will get Josh home.

The last match up here is the most important one to me. Sometimes Tantasy Podcast guest Brett (or Britt) is the Warriors chief and his squad is in red hot form scoring 50+ in the last three weeks. Instead of relying on the Shaun Johnson roller coaster he has Dylan Walker with the kicking tee and a quality backrow in Bodene Thompson, Simon Mannering and Elijah Taylor. My own Raiders have grown a few legs over the last few weeks as the Raiders hit their straps and captain Jarrod Croker has scored points in the dozens each week. I’ll be at Canberra Stadium on Monday Night and hoping my real Raiders get up but if Vunivalu or Chambers score I won’t be crying. Obviously I’m backing myself in for this one.

 

Supporters League III

Supporters League III

This competition saw the Storm, coached by one of the few female CEOs Mel B, finish with the highest points differential of all four leagues – +546! With that in mind they go into the finals as red hot favourites. The team looks unstoppable with the Melbourne stars alongside suprise packages Ben Barba and Joey Leilua. They haven’t lost since Round 15, but interestingly their only other loss was to their opponents in this game. I hear these two have known each other since high school, so there will be a big rivalry in this one. Roosters coach JP (who also finished 3rd in the second Supporters League after adopting his brothers team) is obviously a very talented CEO. Once again he relies on the mid-season pickup of Nathan Cleary to kick him to glory and up against the Knights this weekend he’ll be confident. I don’t think the Storm will lose to him twice this year though.

The Cowboys battled with the Storm for the Minor Premiership all year and just fell away at the end of the season when JT was out. Coach Troy is in his first year of NRLCEO and has not only finished second here but also won over $200 on SuperDraft so far too! He claims it’s luck, but I think it has to be more than that. On the other side of the coin, Tigers CEO Nors has been up against it for the mid part of the year. While the Tigers started with a bang, they really fell off the radar mid year and points were hard to come by. He was quick off the mark to pick up Jarryd Hayne recently too. I’ll actually tip the Tigers to pull an upset in this one, but not by many.

The Raiders were unlucky to finish three spots below the Warriors in this one as they actually scored more points than the Kiwis over the whole year, but as we know head to head is the name of the NRLCEO game. Coach Pokerface86 is the Warriors mastermind, but I worry for his chances when he has named Peter Wallace as goal kicker – he hasn’t kicked a goal since Round 14 this year. He relies heavily on his backrow of Bodene Thompson, Simon Mannering and Isaah Yeo to score tries to win. Raiders CEO Russ is one of the most die hard Raiders fans you will ever meet. He blogs for the Raiders website and owns the most lime green suit you’ve ever seen. Unforrtunately for Russ his Raiders come up against the Storm in the NRL which will likely mean a low scoring game. This one is a 50/50 call but I’ve tossed a coin and the Warriors came up.

I must admit I’ve got a slight bias in this last knock out game. Sharks CEO Dan has been a great friend to the site promoting our game heavily on Twitter, organising many competitions and writing about us on Zero Tackle. He’s pinned majority of his hopes on his beloved Sharks with eight Sharks making up his starting line-up. Remember, you only had to draft six at the start of the year. Unlike their domination of many teams this year, the Sharks take on local rivals Dragons where they haven’t scored more than 30 points in their last eight games. Broncos Coach Cabeman has only just snuck into the finals in both his private league and this Supporters League, but that’s enough. He needs his Broncos to fire against the Eels and if they do he can win this easily, but I still think the Sharks will take the chocolates in this one.

 

Supporters League IV

Supporters League IV

I see a few familiar faces in this first match-up. Bulldogs CEO Sheriff is one of our live scoring legends who goes above and beyond to help out the site and so I’d really like to see him do well in this competition. He claimed the Minor Premiership by just one point over the Warriors but only lost five games all year. His side is stacked with quality as Semi Radradra, Kevin Naiqama, Elliott Whitehead and Jamie Buhrer sit alongside the quality Bulldogs Curtis Rona, Moses Mbye, James Graham, Aiden Tolman and Josh Jackson. His opponent is one of the members of UV2RL, which is the competition of NRLCEO bloggers the Workhorse Watcher and Five Metre Gap’s Hamish. Coach Czerny has taken his fantasy Eels to a level his struggling real life club could only dream of. He’s lucky he got to keep Nathan Peats, he just had to change his colours. I think the Dogs will take this one 13+ but the Eels will live to fight next round.

The Warriors were unlucky not to top the table in this one after tying their second last game with the Bunnies. Their Coach Ambrose has been around the site for a few years in the Tookey Cup and I’ve seen his name on the SuperDraft leaderboard a few times too. He only has four Warriors left and funnily enough none in the backline, but Tom Trbojevic, Will Chambers, Bevan French, Greg Inglis and Michael Lichaa more than make up for it. They will be hard to beat, but the Storm are a chance to turn it on against the Raiders and therefore rack up the points for Coach Jamie. I worry for his team though with a few gaps in his line-ups. I’ll tip the Warriors 13+.

This first knock-out game is an intriguing battle. The Broncos are on a decline and the Knights are on an incline, but they still probably end up at about the same level. Broncos Coach Cara is one of only three female CEOs in these Supporters Leagues and one of two who made the finals. She was dominating early in the season with four 60+ scores in the first eight rounds including 94 in Round 7! But as the Broncos lost form in the NRL, her scores dropped down to 30s and 40s. Knights CEO Jez has done and incredible job to be the only CEO to get the Knights into a finals series in these Supporter Leagues. He’s also the most vocal NRLCEO of all, so he’ll let you know about it! You want to know how he did it? Not a single Knight left in his team. He’s traded extremely well to get Jack Wighton, Konrad Hurrell, Dylan Walker, Paul Gallen and Matt Gillett. I’m actually tipping the Knights to win this week, but I don’t want to hear about it!!

The last knockout game of them is a dilemma for me. On one hand you’ve got my beloved Raiders, represented by NRLCEO addict Coach Rocky7st who plays in four competitions. On the other hand is my old Uni pal and Moneyball Podcast semi-regular Rhys representing the Cowboys. Early on in the year it looks like Rhys had this competition in the bag, but his past seven scores have all been below 50 points. So he’s out of form, but never discount Jonathan Thurston and he also has Joey Leilua and Will Hopoate. The Raiders are the form side in this contest with their last three scores 49 or more, but up against the Storm this week will make things hard. Luckily they have Cameron Munster and Suliasi Vunivalu to balance things in their favour should the Raiders get a touch up. With that in mind, I’m backing the Raiders in a close one.

 

So now that the regular season is over, it’s time to crown our overall Club Champions based on the combined tables of all four leagues.

Congratulations to the North Queensland Cowboys

With 58 wins overall, they were five points ahead of their nearest rivals.

Here is the overall Club Championship for those of you following at home:

Club Wins Losses Draws For Against Average Score +/- Points
North Queensland COWBOYS 58 22 0 3746 2635 186 1111 116
Brisbane BRONCOS 53 27 0 3680 2481 183 1199 106
New Zealand WARRIORS 50 29 1 3464 2835 171 629 101
Canberra RAIDERS 48 31 1 3466 2814 172 652 97
Sydney ROOSTERS 48 32 0 3477 2722 172 755 96
Canterbury BULLDOGS 46 31 3 3163 2856 156 307 95
Melbourne STORM 46 34 0 2989 2582 147 407 92
Wests TIGERS 45 35 0 3217 2868 160 349 90
Parramatta EELS 43 37 0 2913 2808 144 105 86
South Sydney RABBITOHS 34 41 5 2523 2849 125 -326 73
Newcastle KNIGHTS 36 44 0 2927 2978 145 -51 72
Cronulla SHARKS 31 47 2 2781 2993 138 -212 64
Manly SEA-EAGLES 30 47 3 2555 3132 127 -577 63
St George Illawarra DRAGONS 22 56 2 2151 3278 107 -1127 46
Penrith PANTHERS 20 57 3 2108 3457 103 -1349 43
Gold Coast TITANS 16 56 8 1202 3074 58 -1872 40

Legends of League Finals Preview

Migs Mail

It’s finals time and with the extra pressure comes selection headaches for coaches still on their campaign to glory. Who to name as captain, kicker and on the bench are decisions that will either win a final or lose it – there is plenty on the line!

Each competition has congratulated their minor premier but no one remembers them – it’s all about the champion!  In a month, we’ll know who has claimed the title and who will be invited into the 2017 Champions League – the rest will go back to the drawing board and lament what went wrong.  I wish all coaches the best of luck – it’s going to be a nervous and exciting month of NRLCEO.

Bring it on!

 

Champion’s League

Soup-a-Stars are the team to beat as they claimed the minor premiership with a very strong finish to the regular season.  They’ll have the bye first up and watch Team Enormous and Injury Brigade battle for the right to meet them in the grand final qualifier a week later.

The 4th vs 5th place match up should be a doozy with defending champions, The Gurus looking to secure a 2017 invite when they take on the Bundy Bears.  The Bears knocked the champs over in the final regular season game to sneak into 5th position and they’ll be hoping for more of the same this week in the elimination final.

Overall, the momentum seems to be with the top two, Soup-a-Stars and Team Enormous.  Both have been scoring heavily in the run into the finals and are definitely the teams to beat.

 

Wally Lewis Competition

The overwhelming favourites in this comp, the Roswell Aliens have hit a bump in their campaign despite finishing on a whopping 34 competition points.  Their last outing will be giving Coach Fletcher some serious headaches with his side seemingly tapering at the wrong time after firing blanks on the weekend.

Looming ominously in the rearview mirror are The Gurus and Aussiepistons who are hitting their straps at the right time.  The Gurus are averaging a competition high 64 points and others are starting to take notice!

In the elimination final, Cook’s Crushers take on Alex Chan in a match where Nastradamus would struggle to predict.  Chan in particular, are capable of scoring anywhere between 30 and 90!

Overall, what a comp – the Aliens were lay down miseres but now the coach has lost his ‘captain naming touch’ with Vunivalu and Barba going cold.  The Gurus is where it’s at – with a pack consisting of Tolman and Graham, look out!

 

Andrew Johns Competition

What a choke!  After looking like world beaters, the Commish’s beloved Ferrets have got down faster than Kenny Edwards in the last five minutes.  A push for the minor premiership is now just a distant memory with the Ferrets facing off in the elimination final.  Their opponents, Soup-a-Stars will hold no fear and have what it takes to go all the way.

The minor premiers, Spider Pigs only just claimed the week off on points differential and despite being confident of their ability, will be looking over their shoulders while praying for an injury free weekend.  Fighting Mongooses and Hell Boy contest a very evenly matched major final with both teams averaging 54 points – it should be a cracker!

Overall, the Ferrets will claim that they are not gone – they average a tournament high 64 points per game but realistically it is hard to see the Commish winning three games in a row to snatch the title.  While passion is not an issue, there are many who question the Commish’s actual knowledge of rugby league and NRLCEO – this will be the major obstacle halting their progression to the title as self-doubt takes over…

 

Clive Churchill Competition

Multiple Scoregasms have claimed the minor premiership with SemiisloveManuislife securing a well-deserved second place.  They’ll meet Team Blitzkrieg who finished the season faster than Trent Merrin stalking a donut. After being talked up, TB is proving the prophets right and are the team to beat.

In the elimination final, Incredible Miracles have come from the clouds to finish in 4th – seriously where were they three weeks ago?! The Miracles have performed just that and meet Magic Dyke who still have far too many holes to plug if they are to become a title contender beyond the elimination final.

Overall, the push from Team Blitzkrieg in on.  They’ll win it barring injuries – no one will stop them!

 

Arthur Beetson Competition

Team Enormous have secured the minor premiership and look the goods – Coach Shaggs is having a great season. However, this competition is tight with all finalists averaging around the 56 points per game mark.  The first final will play out between Deadly Deathclaws and Sydney Superb Parrots.  Not much changed to the ladder in the latter part of the season so these teams are all ultra-consistent with these two teams impressive all season!

In the elimination final the Bucca Bulldogs continue their renaissance as they push for a Champion’s League return.  They’ll take on the Coorparoo Cocks who edged out the ISIS Dildo Flags with dominant performances late in the season.

Overall, this is tight.  Team Enormous have the experience but are they 100% committed to this competition or is the Champion’s League their #1 priority?  Time will tell but it’s theirs to lose!

 

Allan Langer Competition

The Dentites have claimed the minor premiership but on paper, they are far from the best team.  Their attack is 6th best in the competition which means this is anyone’s to win. In the major semi-final, Bungendore Tigers will take on Old Bar Maggots with the latter having the slight attacking edge over their rivals.  The winner will take on the Dentites next week.

In the elimination final, it’s a promoters dream with Emus on the Menu taking on Wallalong Emus.  The winner will claim bragging rights as well as the opportunity to play on next week – the loser will swallow his pride and come back next season with more sledges…

In the end, this competition will be run and won on who chooses the best captain. The top five teams all finished within two points and all boast a very similar attack. In an upset, Old Bar Maggots will get the chocolates…

 

Mal Meninga Competition

Sheriff’s Legends have secured top spot and the week off as they wait for their week 2 opponent. Happy Trails and The Wendells both gave the minor premiership a good shake but will have to settle for a major semi-final face off.  Again, these two teams are evenly balanced with the Wendells boasting a slight attacking advantage.

In the elimination final, Eskimo Bros have finished the regular season fast to finish in 4thPerth Bengals are getting speed wobbles and will have to show considerable improvement if they are to go any further.

Overall, the Legends have a clear attacking advantage and should they not falter, will be very hard to beat. One of the top 3 should go on to win this competition as the bottom two don’t seem to have the attacking prowess to mix it with the big boys…

Legends of League – run home preview

Migs Mail

There’s just two rounds to go until the 2016 Legends of League Finals so it’s time to see who’s looking the goods.

No NRLCEO title is ever a formality and there’s plenty of work to do for all coaches in the run to the finals.  Whether your team sits in finals contention or not, each team still has a role to play – as the hunter or the hunted!  Furthermore, injuries, poor form, captain selection and team rotation is very important in these closing rounds – where you finish on the ladder really influences how deep your team can go in the finals under the 5 team finals format.

Of course, each competition winner will be invited into the prestigious Champions League.  With wins so important yet so elusive, here’s where each competition is at in the 2016 NRLCEO Legends of League Tournament.

 

Champion’s League

The race for the minor premiership is hotting up with Injury Brigade (28) just holding top spot over Soup-a-Stars (26).  The latter hit the defending title holders, You Know It Gurus for over a 100 on the weekend and are in some stunning form.  Averaging 60 points per game, the Stars look to be the team to beat just two weeks out from the post season.

The ever consistent Team Enormous (24) have almost secured their place in the 2017 Champion’s League and one more win will guarantee them a top 4 finish and automatic re-entry next year.  In fourth position, the Gurus are not guaranteed of a finals place, especially with Cook’s Crushers (20) and Bundy Bears (19) breathing down their neck!  2014 champions, The Clyde Frowgs (17) will need everything to go right and winning six straight games is the only scenario Coach Mad Dog is contemplating right now – an unlikely but mathematically possible situation…

2013 Champion, Briggsy’s Dentites has had a bludger of a campaign and is wallowing in self-pity, in lowly ninth position.

 

Wally Lewis Competition

Can anyone halt the Roswell Aliens’ charge to their maiden Wally Lewis title after they have easily secured the minor premiership?  Averaging a whopping 65 points per game, and sitting on 34 competition points, Coach Fletcher has every right to be tweeting his praises for his squad – his team are easily ranked #1 in NRLCEO Power Rankings.  His nearest competitor, Aussiepistons (28) is desperate to make a game of this and averaging 60 points per game – surely a contender. Multi-Wally winner, the Gurus (25) will still fancy their chances while they average 63 points per game and sit in third.

In fourth postion, Cook’s Crusher’s (22) seem to be a little off the pace in scoring potential while Alex Chan (22) seem to be paying the price for a hot and cold season.

 

Andrew Johns Competition

Word on the street is ‘The Commish’ (Fire Breathing Ferrets) has set his sights on this campaign after the rest of his teams have put in forgettable seasons.  Coach JB’s crew are in second place and sit just a win behind the Spider Pigs (24) who have a hugely inferior differential to the Ferrets if they get level again.  The Fighting Mongooses also sit on 22 points but would need two solid regular season wins to have a chance of the minor premiership.

Sitting in fourth place, Soup-a-Stars (20) could miss the finals with their coach looking at higher honours in the Champion’s League.  Team Team with Marcho blogger and regular Moneyball Podcast host Hell Boy (20), Incudans (20) and Spider-Nation.com (18) will all be looking to cause an upset or two over the next two weeks in order to secure a finals position.

Overall, this is the Commish’s to lose – he’s averaging an impressive 64 points per gameand with no other team getting his love, this is it for JB…

 

Clive Churchill Competition

This is another tight competition with just one win separating each team as we go down the ladder.  Currently in top spot and seeking a bye in the first week of the finals is Multiple Scoregasms (25).  They are averaging a solid 59 points per game and on form are likely to secure the minor premiership.  In second, SemiisloveManuislife (23) is a contender but lack the required punch in attack to be the title favourite.  Suspects RLFC (22) and Fencing with Fensom (20) both average 55+ while Magic Dyke (20) sit in 5th and will be looking to plug a few holes in their defence if they are to feature deep in the post season.

With the top five not quite set, there is no doubt that the elephant in the room is the team that sits in sixth – Team Blitzkrieg hit a ton last weekend and are averaging a competition high 64 points.  Is it possible for the ‘competition favourites’ to not even make the finals?  Time will tell with the final two regular season games oh so important for TB.  If Blitzkrieg miss the finals, there will be a collective sigh of relief from the rest…

 

Arthur Beetson Competition

The battle for minor premier is a cracker in this one with Team Enormous (28) holding a slender 2 point advantage.  Deadly Deathclaws (26) are their stalker and average just 1ppg less, while Sydney Superb Parrots (24) sit a further win behind in 3rd and can’t finish worse than that.  In 4th place, the resurgence of Bucca Bulldogs (20) is on and averaging 56ppg means a return to the Champions League is not out of the question for this one time champion.  In a nomination for ‘most intriguing team name’, ISIS Dildo Flags (19) are looking to fend off the Coorparoo Cocks (18) for the final finals spot.

Interesting Stat:  Any of the top 6 could win this competition as each team is averaging between 54-57ppg.

 

Allan Langer Competition

This competition is always a tight affair with plenty of rivalry among the returning coaches.  Historically, the Dentites and EMUS are always hard to beat and both feature in top five once again.  However, a change in name has seen a change in fortune with Emus on the Menu currently leading a group of three at the top of the ladder.  Only a superior points differential (+31) sees them above the Dentites (+7) and Bungendore Tigers (-67).

In fourth place and by no means out of the minor premiership race, Old Bar Maggots (22, +101) could very well creep through and take the title from under the noses of the top three.

In fifth, the Wallalong EMUS (20, -20) won’t be happy with their campaign and look likely for the elimination final in the first week – if they can stay above the Fantasy Kings (18, -6).

Overall, what a cracking competition as per usual.  If you’re looking to join a high quality, high stakes public competition next season, this could be the one.  It’s always worth the price of admission!

 

Mal Meninga Competition

The top three in this completion have streaked away with each coach being a familiar to the NRLCEO Legends of League format.  On top, Sheriff’s Legends (28) sit a win clear of The Wendells and Happy Trails.  Each have secured two bites of the final cherry with Perth Bengals (20) looking likely for a finals berth. Despite sitting in 5th, the Coro Beach Boys (18) could finish as high as fourth and as low as seventh – such is the tightness of the bottom of the ladder.  Bundy Bears (18) are definitely not out of it but their poor differential (-107) has to be a concern. Eskimo Bros (16) are not completely out of finals contention but will need two solid wins if they are to snatch fifth.

Overall, it’s a tough call between the top three.  Anyone on their day could win it but getting top spot is a major incentive with a bye in the finals week one.

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 17

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to team talk round 17. The Origin period is coming to a close and the finals will be upon us before we know it. Jamie Soward and James Segyaro have both left for Super League this week with Zak Hardaker likely to play in the centres out at the foot of the mountains in reply. Big guns Andrew McCullough will surely see big minutes with the Broncos poor form and Boyd Cordner isn’t far off a return either.

 

Sydney City v Canterbury

The Roosters welcome back Mitch Pearce, Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra. Mitch Aubusson moves back into the back row and Blake Ferguson to the centres. Jackson Hastings will stay at five-eighth.

The Bulldogs have been brutal up front and get Greg Eastwood back to help them even more. Josh Morris is a 50/50 to play, Kerrod Holland will make way and Moses Mybe will take over the kicking duties if he does return. Tony Williams stint in reserve grade has done wonders for him coming back, could be worth a pick up around this time of the season if you need a bench spot filled.

 

Brisbane v Melbourne

The Broncos are usually the easiest team to get team information – always keeping fans and NRLCEO coaches happy by giving as much notice as possible. I for one, applaud them for it. Alex Glenn is going to play in the centres, so no need to start him in the back row. Kodi Nikorima drops back to the bench and Travis Waddell drops out of the squad. Jaydn Su’A will get a start in the back row and so far in his two games has played the entire 80 minutes with two workhorses to show from it. A future gun no doubt. Joe Ofahengaue comes onto the bench.

The Storm also have a reshuffle in the backs but like most teams won’t confirm it until one hour prior to kick off. Blake Green will return pushing Tohu Harris to the backrow. Cam Munster is another 50/50 player at this stage and there are reports he didn’t make the trip.

New Zealand v Gold Coast

The Warriors are specials to lose this one, as soon as everything goes their way, they often produce one of the worst performances of the year. No injury concerns here with David Fusitua and Tui Lolohea interchanging between fullback and wing throughout the game. The biggest question for CEOs is whether or not Shaun Johnson will kick.

The Titans have lost 2016 rookie of the year (at least I expect to be) Ash Taylor to a groin injury and his replacement is Cameron Cullen. Konrad Hurrell isn’t eligible to play in this game due to his transfer agreement, meaning Chris McQueen will play in the centres again. Will Zillman returns to fullback.

 

Balmain-Wests v Penrith

The battle of the fullbacks, but it looks likely that James Tedesco and Matt Moylan will both play Origin in game 3. As long as Jason Taylor reigns, Robbie Farah will play off the bench again. Mitch Moses has taken back the kicking duties from Jordan Rankin which has hurt a lot of CEO teams.

New English import Zak Hardaker will definitely be one to watch. Should he play it will be in the centres with Tyrone Peachey or Waqa Blake to make way. Peachey would just go back to the bench if that were the case. Sam McKendry returns as 18th man but surely he or Jeremy Latimore will be deemed surplus next year with young guns James Fisher-Harris and Reagan Campbell-Gillard along with Kangaroo James Tamou coming on board.

 

Cronulla v Parramatta

When was the last time a team finished fifth the previous year, changed three members of its spine only to dominate the finish higher up the ladder? Well the Sharks are likely to improve on last years finish by doing just that. Sosaia Feki returns to the wing this week and Val Holmes should be right to play this week as well. Pressure can do strange things to footballers and it will be interesting to see how long the Sharks can keep up this unbeaten run for.

I personally think Semi is going to play, so I would put him in my team if I had him. There is still no sign of Tim Mannah or Brad Takairangi for the Eels but they should be returning soon. Cody Nelson gets his first run of the year but Isaac De Gois will spend most of the game at hooker.

 

Canberra v Newcastle

Canberra may outscore the 60 they put on the Tigers earlier this year if they turn up and put the Knights to the sword for the full 80 minutes. Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana could score 5+ pies between them this week. Both are worthy of a captaining in your NRLCEO team. Josh Hodgson and Kurt Baptiste both trained this week and will play.

The Knights will be unchanged from last week for possibly the first time this year. Will no doubt be one of the biggest upsets ever if they manage to stun the Raiders. I don’t think it’s worth putting any Knights in your starting side here.

 

South Sydney v North Queensland

So Souths have decided to take their home game to Cairns in North Queensland to play the only team within 2,000kms of the joint… it all comes down to money. Adam Reynolds is expected to play this game in an otherwise unchanged team. Greg Inglis will again be playing at centre as coach Maguire continues to search for his best position.

Kane Linnett is out and so Javid Bowen will play in the centres. Ray Thompson will play five-eighth, pushing Rory Kostjasyn to the bench and with Michael Morgan out, this structure should continue for the next few weeks.

Manly v St George Illawarra

The Sea Eagles put up a good fight last week and in the process spoiled the last leg of my multi as well. They competed for the entire match largely thanks to their bench of Addin Fonua-Blake and Vave. Marty Taupau will again start at prop again this week. Nate Myles is pushing for a late inclusion but we won’t know until Monday whether or not he will line up.

The Dragons will start Jack De Belin with Tariq Sims coming back onto the bench, joining Jacob Host there. Mike Cooper has a back issue and may not be sighted again this year as he’s off back to the UK at the end of the season. I would avoid carrying too many injured players past the trade deadline as you will not be able to drop them after.

 

Make sure you keep a look out for any more late mail across the weekend. Good luck to all those coaches out there, unless of course you’re playing me. 

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 15

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to team talk round 15. This is obviously the hardest part of the year for everyone but at least it’s even. Good kickers and shrewd captains generally determine the outcome of games. Guys like Semi Radradra, Marika Koroibete and David Fusitua are worth the gamble for those who may be out numbered in terms of personnel. Or the safe option of a Sam Burgess, Simon Mannering, Mitch Rein or Jake Trobojevic who should just get a workhorse and maybe a few more points if you’re lucky. Otherwise a fairly quiet week on the injury front.

 

South Sydney v Parramatta

The Bunnies need to turn their season around otherwise they will miss out on the finals for the first time since. Origin has taken away GI and Adam Reynolds, while Bryson Goodwin has a fractured arm. So I’m not sure who will kick goals this week, maybe Cody Walker? A total backline reshuffle now has Walker back to five-eighth and Luke Keary into halfback, Alex Johnston to fullback and Siosifa Talakai into the centres. Damien Cook and Jack Gosiewski join the bench. John Sutton is a chance of returning this week but I can’t see much fantasy value in him these days.

The Eels managed to get a win last week up in Darwin and have the stronger forward pack on paper. Michael Jennings is out and Vai Toutai comes into replace him in the only change. Tim “Close but No Cigar” Mannah is another close to returning but everyone knows he is about as reliable as a Tinder match responding. Take a punt on Bevan French if he is still available. He should play a few more games on the wing this season.

 

St George Illawarra v Melbourne

Big news for the Dragons this week with Tariq Sims joining the club for the rest of the year. Now for owners of the middle Sims brother, I don’t think this is a good thing. The Dragons already have two established edge forwards in Tyson Frizell and Joel Thompson. Although Sims could find himself playing as early as this weekend as Frizell is playing Origin now, but after this week time to trade him out.  Kurt Mann bagged a few tries last week so pick him up if you can. Mike Cooper also announced he will be returning to the Super League at the end of the season, which is a pity as he has become an established NRL forward. Should the Dragons fall away towards the back end of the year, Cooper may well find himself in reserve grade.

The Storm lose Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk, but are one of the form teams of the competition at the moment. It will be left to Blake Green is steer the team around the park, but he won’t be alone.  The likes of Cam Munster, Tohu Harris and Suliasi Vunivalu are all in tremendous form. Kenny Bromwich is playing hooker and is a must have this week and should play big minutes.

 

New Zealand v Sydney City

The Warriors are coming of a virtual training run against the Knights last weekend and are up against a wounded and out of sorts Roosters side. Expect the usual suspects to run riot in the backs David Fusitua, Tui Lolohea, Solomone Kata and Shaun Johnson while the forwards will lay the platform. Manu Vatuvei hurt his hamstring and Jacob Lillyman is off to play for Queensland. Ken Maumalo gets the call up in front of Jono Wright and Toafofoa Sipley joins the bench.

The Roosters forwards have been reliable in 2016 thanks to huge amounts of defensive work and with Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner missing Mitch Aubusson, Jake Friend, Dylan Napa and JWH will all gains an easy WH. Shaun Kenny-Dowall returns to the centres and Joseph Manu makes his debut on the wing.

Gold Coast v Manly

Konrad Hurrell picked up a calf injury and is in doubt with Nathan Davis coming back into the centres. Luke Douglas hasn’t had the best of fantasy years with Ryan James living up to his potential and David Shillington coming on board at the start of the season, but Douglas has been picking up a few workhorses of late and with a Shillington a week to week proposition maybe try and sneak him in for a trade. As a Nathan Peats owner, I’m hoping he starts to play a few more minutes, starting this weekend.

The Sea Eagles have been the biggest disappointment in 2016 both on the field and in fantasy terms. Dylan Walker produced last week and kicked a few goals, will he take over full time next year? Jamie Lyon has been named but I have my doubts on whether or not he will actually play. Nate Myles knee injury will see young gun Liam Knight given a chance this weekend. Marty Taupau returns from suspension and will line up at prop for the first time this year. Tom Trobojevic will gain a centre after this week as well.

 

Make sure you keep a look out for any more late mail across the weekend. Good luck to all those coaches out there, unless of course you’re playing me.

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 14

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to Team Talk round 14. A few more players have been ruled out for the rest of the season in Matt Ballin and Brenton Lawrence. The Warriors are having their mid-season resurgence around Origin and with the Knights this week you can almost bank those two points, while the Tigers, Broncos and Bulldogs are set to cause headaches with changes to their first choice kickers over the next few weeks.

 

Brisbane v Canberra

The Broncos return home and welcome back Origin duo Corey Oates and Matt Gillett. Travis Waddell was a late scratching last week and will start at hooker with Andrew McCullough not expected back until after the Origin period. Bad news for Jack Reed owners with the centre expected to miss the next month with a shoulder injury. Greg Eden will play his fifth game on the wing and will get a position update finally. Joe Ofahengaue has been dropped with Tevita Pangaa Junior retaining his spot on the bench. I assume Corey Parker will be the first choice kicker, but that’s only when he is on the field.

The Raiders lose Jack Wighton and Shannon Boyd to suspension for one week each. Zac Santo will play just his second NRL game, slotting in at fullback. Paul Vaughan returns to the front row after being rested last week. Junior Paulo and Luke Bateman retain their starting spots as the great Shaun Fenson is rested for yet another week. Could this be Ricky Stuart telling the NRLCEO superstar that he isn’t wanted in the Nationals Capital?

 

Balmain-Wests v South Sydney

Matt Ballin needs another ACL operation, but that isn’t guaranteeing Robbie Farah a start or more minutes with Dene Halatau and Elijah Taylor potentially filling in. Jordan Rankin is still back in NSW Cup despite Josh Addo Carr announcing he is off to the Storm next year. Mitchell Moses will take back the kicking duties.

Somehow Nathan Brown escaped suspension after clearly stomping on a Titans player last week, I’m regularly left shaking my head at the judiciary’s decision making skills.  GI got a five-eighth update this week, with Cody Walker due for a fullback update after this game. Luke Keary has really been a spark in attack when he comes on for the Rabbits, but is under an injury cloud for this game. If Keary is ruled out expect Damian Cook to come onto the bench.

 

Newcastle v New Zealand

The Knights are set to rush in both Brendan Elliott and Mitch Barnett for this weeks game. Elliott will play in the centres as Nathan Ross is battling a calf injury. I’m not sure how Barnett will impact the likes of Tariq Sims and Pauli Pauli’s minutes but it can’t be great for either player.  Korbin Sims and Jacob Saifiti will join the bench.

The Warriors have named the same side that got the job done against the Broncos. It’s widely expected that if Shaun Johnson is on his game, then the Warriors will rack up a cricket score, so make sure you get your Warriors players in your starting line-up. Kata, Johnson and Lolohea are all worthy captains this week.

 

Parramatta v Gold Coast

The Eels are a bit short in the halves department after Brad Takairangi hurt his hamstring. As Luke Kelly and Kieran Foran are already out for the season, Kenny Edwards will have to play five-eighth. Tim Mannah is expected back next, so Danny Wicks should continue to see 50+ minutes and more workhorse points.

The Titans are building nicely. Is this the week Konrad Hurrell makes his club debut? Ryan James absolutely smashed it last week in all departments and is going to have a target on his back this weekend. Last weeks performance had people calling for James to be included on the NSW Origin bench but I would like to see him perform like that on a more consistent basis. I’m not sure how much longer Neil Henry can keep Nathan Peats on the bench for.

 

Sydney City v Melbourne

Latrell Mitchell is only rated a 50/50 chance of playing at this stage. Isaac Liu has an ankle issue and won’t be playing this weekend. Trent Robinson has thrown up a bit of a surprise with prop Kane Evans named at lock. Dylan Napa will sit out this week after fighting and losing at the judiciary, Sam Moa will start. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returned to the starting line-up with a bang last week with his first workhorse of the year and 200+ metres, meaning he also got a double metre eater – he is a must start this week. Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Kenny-Dowal and Isaac Liu are aiming for a return next week.

The well-oiled Storm machine keeps rolling on. Their no nonsense forward pack keeps churning out workhorse and the odd try but Marika Koroibete and Cam Munster are the only two backs to get excited about. Will Chambers isn’t too far away from a return, pick him up if he is available, but only if you can. Injured players won’t win you games around this time of the year so it’s best to get as many starters in your squad as possible around the Origin period.

 

Manly v Penrith

Well I couldn’t care that the Sea Eagles are crippled by injury and controversy at the moment. Everybody hates Manly. Steve Matai is joining Brenton Lawrence on the sidelines for the rest of the season and Jamie Lyon and DCE will also be missing the next month of action. Jorge Taufua will return from a broken collarbone and Jamie Buhrer will be right to play after being on the receiving end of yet another monster hit. I had my doubts over Buhrer with a completely new forward pack and coach around him this year but he sure proved me wrong with 2 WH’s and try in his first two weeks back from injury. Finally Brett Stewart needs to lift his game with only eight points so far this year, come on Snake.

Penrith have dropped another top player to reserve grade, this time it’s Jamie Soward. Coach Anthony Griffin is putting the sword though a few players and making way for the future with young Nathan Cleary and Te Marie Martin making their NRL debuts this year and not looking out of place. Bryce Cartwright will play in the halves this week. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is in doubt with a shoulder injury.

St George Illawarra v Canterbury

The Dragons could welcome back Jack De Belin this week as he has trained so far this week, but a final decision will be made come Friday if he will play of not. Benji Marshall has trained all week and will play at halfback. Jason Nightingale will need one more week for a positional upgrade to a fullback as well as a winger. I expect Will Matthews to drop out if JDB returns. The Dragons are still chasing Tariq Sims for this year, but the Knights want a half decent player in return if the deal is going to happen.

The Dogs will be unchanged from their last minute loss to the Sharks. Brett Morris is close to a return that would push Will Hopoate to the centres and Kerrod Holland out of the side. Holland’s days are numbered. James Graham keeps churning out big points and is currently the best fantasy player this year, (106 points) surpassing Anthony Milford. (100) I’m expecting this to be forward dominated game, which means plenty of workhorse tries and metre eater to go with it.

 

Cronulla v North Queensland

The last game will no doubt be the game of the round. The Sharks are unchanged with Sosaia Feki the only player in doubt with a groin injury this week. Ricky Leutele will come into the backs if Feki doesn’t recover in time. Look for a strong game in defence from Origin hopefuls Wade Graham and Mick Ennis.

The Cowboys keep marching out the same side each week. Michael Morgan returns after being rested after Origin. James Tamou finally announced he will be leaving the Cowboys at the end of the season. It would be a little fishy is the Cowboys managed to resign all their off contract premiership winning players this year.

 

Make sure you keep a look out for any more late mail across the weekend. Good luck to all those coaches out there, unless of course you’re playing me.

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 13

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to team talk round 13. This time of the year always brings huge uncertainty with Origin stars being rested or given reduced minutes back at club level. A few more players have joined the casualty ward for the rest of the season, plus I’m starting to see more fantasy guns showing their age and joining the spud pool, the likes of Nate Myles, Jamie Lyon and Sam Thaiday.

 

Canberra v Manly

A host of changed for the Raiders here. Edrick Lee has picked up a hamstring injury which always take a few weeks to fully recover from and Brenko Lee will take his place on the wing. Shaun Fenson has been scheduled to be rested, but if Josh Papalii doesn’t back up he should come back into the side. Luke Bateman should already be picked up in all comps, if not get him in quick. He was great on this week’s Tantasy Podcast too!  Joe Tapine starts at prop after a barnstorming performance against the Dogs.

Dylan Walker should back up after just nine minutes of action in Origin, but it’s safe to say he will never play from the bench again at that level. Nate Myles should play after little time on the pitch in Origin too but is no certainty. Brett Stewart and Steve Matai have been named but one or the other are always under an injury cloud which means Matt Wright drops out. Jamie Lyon needs one more game, after this week at five-eighth for a positional update. Jorge Taufua is still a few weeks away from returning.

 

New Zealand v Brisbane

The Warriors were totally unaffected by Origin in game one. Jono Wright has been dropped with “The Beast” Manu Vatuvei returning. With the departure of Konrad Hurrell, Blake Ayshford will be playing centre for the rest of the year. If the Warriors can bash the Broncos forwards then they might have a chance of winning this game, but you never quite know with this mob.

The Broncos have given Matt Gillett and Corey Oates a rest meaning Lachlan Maranta keeps his spot this week and could do so for the entire Origin period. Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire have all been named but Wayne Bennett is taking over two extra players as cover. Travis Waddell is out with Kodi Nikorima starting at hooker and Herman Ese’ese coming onto bench.

 

North Queensland v Newcastle

I can already see the blood in the water here but Michael Morgan’s head knock could see him miss a week and rumour has it only one of the co-captains will play. That being said it is at home for the Cowboys and the forward pack should be good enough to get the job done. None of the origin players are guaranteed to back up in this clash.

Aku Uate has finally been dropped to NSW Cup after failing to be able to read defence for the past seven years. Dane Gagai should be right to back up at fullback but Jaeleen Feeney has been ruled out, meaning Tyler Randell will play in the halves and David Bhana will come onto the bench. Dani Levi should get a workhorse this week if that is the case. Korbin Sims has been suspended but Jeremy Smith returns. Pauli Pauli looks like he could be a handy pick up if he sticks to the big minutes in the backrow.

 

Melbourne v Penrith

The Storm didn’t name Cam Smith or Cooper Cronk. Smith will play, but Cronk is less likely with a bit of an ankle injury. The merry-go-round of outside backs is proving to be a nightmare with Bellamy keeping us on our toes right up until kick-off. A nightmare for those with Cam Smith as their kicker – you just have to hope you have Tohu Harris or a backup kicker playing on Sunday or Monday.

The Panthers Origin duo should play this weekend, with a few Cronk bombs headed Matt Moylan’s way for sure. Bryce Cartwright will play despite a thumb injury ruling him out of Origin. James Segeyaro has been dropped and could have played his last game for the Panthers with his contract expiring at the end of the year. Interesting to see how Trent Merrin plays after being left out of Origin. Leilani Latu could be a good pick up while Isaah Yeo looks like he will play in the centres for the rest of the year following that horrific leg injury to Peter Hiku.

 

Sydney City v Balmain-Wests

Dale Copley is making an early return from injury and will slot straight back into the centres. Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra and Blake Ferguson should all back up. I’m not sure who will partner Mitch Pearce in the halves with Ryan Matterson and Jackson Hastings both a chance. JHW will start his first game of the year and hopefully that means a workhorse – fingers crossed.

Some positive news for the Tigers after two consecutive wins, with Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses resigning with the club this week. James Tedesco is back this week and Josh Addo-Carr retains his spot on the wing over Jordan Rankin. Will have to watch out for late mail as a reshuffle in the outside backs is a possibility.

South Sydney v Gold Coast

George Burgess has decided to get surgery so time to punt him from your team. That means more minutes for Nathan Brown and Jason Clark. GI pulled up fine and will again play at five-eighth. Cody Walker will play fullback after resigning with the club mid-week. Aaron Gray is still another week away and should replace Dane Nielsen. Damien Cook is stuck in NSW Cup.

Konrad Hurrell is unlikely to play this week. It appears Nathan Davis would be the man to eventually make way. Greg Bird will take his place. Should be a good game over in Perth. The Titans have made some very handy mid-season signings after hanging onto a bit of money instead of going out and buying whoever was available, instead they decided to wait and Nathan Peats and Konrad Hurrell are both match winners, as well as being fantasy guns.

 

Canterbury v Cronulla

Will Hopoate returns for the Dogs at fullback, Sam Perrett goes back to the wing and Tyrone Phillips drops out. Greg Eastwood is injured and Sam Kasiano is in doubt for this game but both are of little fantasy relevance. David Klemmer will be getting a positional update soon if he stays in the backrow. Raymond FaitalaMariner could be worth a pick up as Des likes to give his edge forwards plenty of minutes, plus with Tony Williams moving on RFM could be playing on that edge long term.

The Sharks Origin trio should all be right to play. Joseph Paulo comes onto the bench. The top of the table sharks are travelling pretty well on the injury front with only Matt Prior injury and David Fifita on leave unavailable at the moment. No surprise as the top three teams only have about five injuries between them.

 

Just finally, how boring was Origin?!? Let’s hope game two has a big more excitement about it. Make sure you keep a look out for any more late mail across the weekend. Good luck to all those coaches out there, unless of course you’re playing me.

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 11

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to team talk round 11. With Origin just around the corner it’s important to pay attention to who will be playing and in what positions. Who is going to play in the back row at the Broncos or the Sharks? Who do the Warriors play over this period? And which players will be out with a point to prove to selectors.

 

South Sydney v St George Illawarra

The backline reshuffle worked last week for coach Michael Maguire and with Michael Oldfield injured, Cody Walker has been named on the wing but he will switch with fullback Alex Johnston at times in attack adding another dimension to the Rabbitohs attack. Damien Cook cant find a way into the 17 at the moment with Luke Keary again starting from the bench.

The Dragons lost Benji Marashall to that troublesome hamstring again, which means Josh McCrone is back in. Joel Thompson copped a suspension and is replaced by Jake Marketo on the edge. Will Matthews drops back to the bench with Mike Cooper starting at lock and Russell Packer will start at prop. Matthews did a solid job last week at lock and with the Drogons grinding style of play I expect another workhorse from the big man.

 

North Queensland v Brisbane

The Friday night blockbuster is the second instalment of the 2015 Grand Final replay and I also predict it won’t be the last time this year these two teams face off. The Cowboys have a few bumps and bruises but nothing that will disrupt their amazingly small injury toll in 2016. Lachlan Coote will be out to impress Laurie Daley but I’m not sure if he can do a whole lot more as his form so far has been superb.

The Broncos welcome back Andrew McCullough, Alex Glenn and Adam Blair. All three players mentioned are a good chance of getting a workhorse is this clash, which I’m predicting will be a low scoring affair. News filtered through this week that Corey Parker has given up the kicking duties due to a foot injury sustained in the test match, but he is only kicking at 65% this year so that might have something more to do with it.

 

Balmain Wests v Newcastle

Next up in the game of the round here at Campbelltown Stadium! The Tigers will be without Robbie Farah after a heavy concussion last week. Dene Halatau will start at hooker with Matt Ballin playing off the bench. Elijah Taylor has come straight back into workhorse territory and will definitely stay there for the rest of the year. Curtis Sironen and Sauaso Sue are also out.

The Knights welcome back Trent Hodkinson, which will be his last chance to prove he should retain is Blues jersey. Sam Mataora and Nathan Ross will play after both pulling out of last weekends humiliating 62-0 drubbing by the Sharks. The bounce back factor will surely see a much improved performance from the Knights, but little fantasy relevance for coaches.

 

New Zealand v Canberra

The Warriors lose Solomone Kata, which hurts their attack but welcome back Simon Mannering, to help bolster their defence. A lot will rest on Tui Lolohea and Shaun Johnson to get the Warriors on the scoreboard. Matt Allwood will come into the centres for Kata to face his former club for the first time.

The Raiders backs should have field day against the likes of Blake Ayshford, Jono Wright and Allwood. Shaun Fenson will miss one week with a shoulder injury, which means Luke Bateman comes in at lock. Jeff Lima comes back onto the bench, while Sam Williams and Frank-Paul Nuuausala will travel as cover. Some CEOs were holding out hope that Sia Soliola would be a late inclusion after the birth of a baby boy earlier in the week, but Ricky has confirmed he won’t be back until next week.

 

Cronulla v Manly

Matt Prior has a knee injury and he is replaced by Jayson Bukuya on the bench and once again David Fifita is 18th man. Paul Gallen hasn’t done much training this week but will still be lining up against Manly. Pick up Jayson Bukuya if he is still available in your comp, he has shown that he will pick up a workhorse should Gallen and Wade Graham play Origin.

The Sea Eagles are being hampered by the same injury problems as 2015, with a backline who struggles to play two consecutive weeks. Steve Matai has been named but is always a wait and see due to his shocking injury record. Jamie Buhrer is finally back and will play on the edge vacated by the suspended Marty Taupau. Buhrer is capable of scoring doubles if he plays big minutes and is another great pick up, but surely he is taken in most comps by this stage. Tom Symonds and Addin Fonua-Blake have both been dropped and Brett Stewart is more likely to play after the bye.

 

Penrith v Gold Coast

For the first time in a very long time Penrith have named the same his two weeks in a row and they also haven’t named 18 plus players either. But that doesn’t mean this will be the same side that runs out on Sunday afternoon. James Segeyaro is off contract and hasn’t been playing many minutes so far, which leads me to believe his fantastic 2014 was more of a flash in the pan. Bryce Cartwright and Josh Mansour are right in the mix for Origin and neither would look out of sorts, despite Cartwright’s large missed tackle count and he won’t be required to play big minutes.

The Titans have said they are more likely to ease Nathan Peats into the side rather then throw him into the mix straight away. This is terrible news for CEO coaches with his minutes set to tumble meaning no guarantee of a workhorse lock each week.

 

Canterbury v Sydney City

The Dogs will again be without Tony Williams, looks like he will reproduce his 2015 form and score less than 10 points again this year. David Klemmer will start at lock again and has been killing it with four straight wokhorses, which has included a metre eater and two double metre eaters. Adam Elliott and Lloyd Perrett are on an extended bench.

Jackson Hastings has been axed by the Roosters with rumours they are also trying to offload him for next year. Ryan Matterson will partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves and Connor Watson will come onto the bench. Jake Friend will continue to churn out massive tackle counts. Mitchell Aubusson isn’t far off a centre upgrade. With Guerra and Cordner playing origin look to bring in Isaac Liu whos minutes are set to increase around this time of the year.

 

Parramatta v Melbourne

Kieran Foran is back for the Eels pushing Brad Takairangi to the centres and Vai Toutai out of the side. Tim Mannah is still out for a few more weeks so maybe the likes of David Gower and Danny Wicks could be worth a sneaky pick up.

Tohu Harris has been named in the centres but new Eels recruit Ryan Morgan is expected to make his club debut. Harris will then push to the backrow and Kenny Bromwich will go back to the bench.

 

Make sure you keep a look out for any more late mail alter in the weekend. Good luck to all those coaches out there, unless of course you’re playing me.

Team Talk with Marcho: Rd 10

Team Talk Marcho 2016

Welcome to Team Talk round 10. The rep round has seen a few more casualties then first reported. The week off is a good time to reassess how your players are travelling and also weight up how your opponents are looking on the ladder. The immediate move of Nathan Peats will no doubt have NRLCEO coaches everywhere nervous. As a result Nathan Friend’s stock goes down but Isaac De Gois has become the major beneficiary in all this cap drama.

 

St George Illawarra v Canberra

The biggest loser from the rep round was Jack De Belin. He has been in superb form so far this year and will now miss the next 6 weeks with a shoulder injury. Will Matthews comes in at lock and if given enough minutes could prove a handy pick up. Joel Thompson returns from suspension and this years worst buy, Tim Lafai returns but he has zero fantasy relevance this year.

The Raiders have a number of players on a short four day turnaround but all are expected to play. Since Paul Vaughan got the nod to start he certainly has stood up scoring 19 points in two round, as long as Frank-Paul Nuuausala is not on the team sheet Vaughan should continue to produce the goods.

Parramatta v South Sydney

The Eels lose their inspirational hooker Nathan Peats as a result of the salary cap issues, Isaac De Gois will now step up in Peats place. Kaysa Pritchard will come onto the bench. Tim Mannah is out injured again but Tepai Moeroa comes back in at lock. Vai Toutai will again play in the centres as Brad Takairangi will play 5/8. But this is only temporary, when Kieran Foran returns Tautai will drop back to NSW Cup.

South have lost winger Aaron Grey for a month which could prompt a backline reshuffle. Alex Johnston has been named at fullback but could now shift to the wing with Grey out. Greg Inglis has been named at 5/8 but could slot back into the fullback spot and Luke Keary (bench) could be back in at 5/8, Damien Cook would come onto the bench. David Tyrrell has been dropped and that bloke is an absolute spud so Nathan Brown starts at prop. New signing Jack Gosiewski will make his debut from the bench.

Penrith v New Zealand

Penrith welcome back Waqa Blake to the centres and if you are desperate for a centre, Blake will at least be playing for the rest of the year and Penrith won’t lose too many players over the origin period either. Chris Grevsmuhl moved over to the Panthers mid-week but will come into calculation to play next week. Big signing news with James Tamou tipped to be at the foot of the mountains next year.

Good luck if you are relying on the Warriors for points in this one. A tipster’s nightmare since 95. After breaking a hodo against the Dragons last week with a host of regulars out, the big guns return Ben Matalino, Tui Lolohea, Bodene Thompson and Thomas Leuluai all return for this clash. This game is being played in Christchurch so the Warriors could produce the goods. Simon Mannering is a chance of a late inclusion as is Manu Vatevei.

Melbourne v North Queensland

The rotation on outside backs continues at the Storm. Curtis Scott played during the rep round and is considered a strong chance of playing. Marika Koroibete could be off to Rugby Union next year but a return this week is unlikely.

I’m finding it harder and harder to talk about relevant team news for the Cowboys as it is the same week in week out until rep season. The 2015 premiers look finally set to lose a big name with James Tamou looking to be headed to the Panthers next season. Ray Thompson makes his injury comeback in QLD Cup this weekend.

Manly v Brisbane

The only reason a team would take an away game to Suncorp Stadium would be to make a pretty penny or two. But the double header is sold out and should make for a great atmosphere. The Sea Eagles have lost Brett Stewart and Steve Matai but Tom Trbojevic has travelled with the team and could be a late inclusion. Pita Godinet and Tom Symonds have also travelled up to Brisbane and will come into the team.

The Broncos will again be without Adam Blair with Jarrod Wallace starting at prop. Alex Glenn is out due to a hip injury, Sam Thaiday will start in the backrow but is yet to register a workhorse this year. Jai Arrow is a kid with some big wraps as a young workhorse in the backrow and is touted as Corey Parker’s eventual replacement should the Broncos skipper ever decide to hang up the boots.

Newcastle v Cronulla

The Knights get Sam Mataora back from suspension and Jacob Safiti returns to the back row, pushing Korbin Sims to the bench. Tyler Randell is back on the bench as David Bhana drops out. Trent Hodkinson is in doubt, Will Pearsall is on standby.

The Sharks get to show everyone how well their attack is gelling. Jayson Bukuya is out suspended for one week, Luke Lewis will start at backrow in his place. Joseph Paulo and David Fifita will be fighting it out for the last bench spot. I expect the Sharks to win comfortably here.

Balmain Wests v Canterbury

Big news for Tigers and CEO coaches everywhere Aaron Woods is back, but James Tedesco is out injured for 4-6 weeks. Justin Hunt will play fullback but don’t be surprised if Jordan Rankin switches positions at some point during the game. Tim Grant also returns at prop pushing Ava Seumanufagai to the bench and I doubt he will be able to keep scoring WH’s from the bench. Elijah Taylor has joined from the Panthers and will push for increased minutes in the coming weeks and be back to his workhorsing best in no time.

The Dogs lose Will Hopoate for the next three games for religious beliefs as he will not play on Sundays. Sam Perrett will play fullback and Tyrone Phillips will come onto a wing. Greg Eastwood has been pushed to an edge and Sam Kasiano will play lock. Tony Williams has been dropped to the bench but rumour has it he will be playing NSW Cup this weekend.

Gold Coast v Sydney City

The Titans will welcome Nathan Peats with open arms but it’s unsure if he will line up this weekend, next game looks more likely. David Shillington is back at prop with Anthony Don and Eddy Pettybourne added to an extended bench.

The Roosters lose Shuan Kenny-Dowall to turf toe and welcome back Daniel Tupou. Mitchell Aubusson will play centre, how he isn’t already a centre is beyond me, plays upwards of 20% of his games each year in the centres, yet can’t start the season with a centre spot?! Sio Siua Taukeiaho could return early from injury in this one. Jackson Hastings looked much more comfortable with Mitchell Pearce beside him in the halves last start.

That’s it for another week, remember to always check late mail an hour before kick-off for the final team lists and good luck to everyone, unless of course you are playing me.