Category Archives: Workhorse Watch

2017 Workhorse Watch Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Workhorse Watch Awards. The Workies are a chance to celebrate all that is great about rugby league’s toughest players.

 

YOUNG WORKHORSE OF THE YEAR

Another exciting group of workhorses emerged this year who will no doubt be on keeper lists and scouting reports for 2018.

Last year’s nominees included Cameron McInnes who went from 14 workhorses in 2016 to 23 this year, Daniel Alvaro who went from 8 to 12 and the eventual winner Mitch Barnett who went from 9 (in 9 weeks) to 16.

Jayden Brailey had big boots to fill following the retirement of Michael Ennis but was up to the task with nine workhorse tries before a broken jaw all but ended his season.

Ryan Matterson wasn’t on anyone’s radar at the start of the season having played 15 games in 2016 for zero workhorse return. Coming off the bench, 2017 appeared to be more of the same before Matterson had a run in the middle of the season where he scored eight workhorse tries in nine weeks.

Matt Eisenhuth is one of the stories of the year, having toiled away in lower grades for years while cousin Paul Gallen was off being one of the all time fantasy football greats. But the ‘Iron Hat’ got his chance this season scoring 10 workhorse tries in 11 games. His only miss was in Round 19 and he had 39!

But the winner is Angus Crichton. Souths fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about this season but one glimmer of hope has been the emergence of Crichton. He played all but two games this year (the first and the last) and spent much of the latter rounds with a fractured foot to finish with 17 workhorse tries.

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR AWARD

Coming into the final round, Thomas Burgess lead the league having finished on 39 on three occasions but in Round 26 Jason Taumalolo and Manu Ma’u came through each getting 39 to draw level with the Englishman for a three way tie.

Taumalolo had 19 runs and 20 tackles while Ma’u had 20 runs and 19 tackles.

The good news is that No Cigar Club membership is down with 39 involvements registered 108 times this season compared to 113 last year. And that was shared between 81 players this season, down from 85 last year. Also, last season the winner of this award, James Tamou fell into the club five times compared to the “winners” who did it just three times.

 

WORKHORSE LITE AWARD

Last year saw a five way tie in this award and this year it’s gotten even bigger with a record seven players finishing on exactly 40 involvements three times – that’s enough for an entire forward pack minus a hooker.

Up front would be Andrew Fifita and Jared-Waerea Hargreaves. In the back row would be Trent Merrin, Joe Greenwood and Bunty Afoa. And on the bench, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Leeson Ah Mau.

Ah Mau had the most amazing of scores when he went back to back to back with 40 involvement games in rounds 20 to 22.

 

MOST DOUBLE WORKHORSE TRIES

Double workhorse tries were way down on last year with just 48 double workhorse tries scored compared to 64 in 2016.

A big part of that is due to James Graham who went from scoring 10 double workhorse tries last year to just two this season. Teammate Aiden Tolman scored four, down from seven last year while Mitch Rein had none compared to the five he scored at the Dragons last year.

The stand out was Simon Mannering who had five double workhorse tries for the season and who reached the 60 involvement mark on four other occasions but didn’t have the metres to go with it.

 

TRY / WORKHORSE TRY AWARD

Try/workhorse try combos were also down this year with just 138 this year compared to 156 in 2016.

In the end Jake Trbojevic stormed home scoring three combos in the last three weeks of the season to finish with nine try/workhorse tries for 2017.

In second place was Paul Vaughan who’s had a monster year with seven combos on his way to eight tries and 19 workhorse tries.

 

WORKHORSE BACK OF THE YEAR

No playmaker in the NRL has had to do more work than Daly Cherry-Evans with the Manly number seven scoring two workhorse tries and making 563 tackles for the season. Despite the workload, DCE also leads the league in try assists with 22.

Admittedly, Cherry-Evans has played the most games of any of his rivals but not by much, and certainly not by a margin anywhere close to the difference in workloads.

DCE averages 23 tackles per game, Shaun Johnson averages 16, Ash Taylor averages 15, Gareth Widdop averages 11 and Anthony Milford just 10.

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BEST PREDICTION

I’m pleased to say there were a number of players who I singled out for big things this season.

You’ll recall I focussed on players at clubs and first cab off the rank was Jarrod Wallace who went from four workhorse tries to 17. Unfortunately I failed to pick him up in the draft, and the man who did, won the comp.

Paul Vaughan also had a “wow” of a year not just in terms of workhorse tries (where he went from three to 19) but right across the board including tries, line breaks and metre eaters.

Teammate Cameron McInnes was so good he became hooker of the year going from 14 workhorse tries in 2016 to 23 this year.

But my best call would have to be Nathan Brown who went from six workhorse tries to 22, made the Workhorse Pack of the Year, has lead Parramatta to finals football and took the Ken Thornett Medal for Eels best player.

His success is a ringing endorsement for detailing stats per minute. It’s not a perfect methodology but by tracking his workrate at Souths it was clear that he had the workrate in him, he just needed the minutes.

Honorable mention must go to Scott Bolton who had a great season in the absence of James Tamou and Matt Scott with 20 workhorse tries.

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WORST PREDICTION

I made a number of calls that were way off but a few of them came with conditions so they don’t count. I’m not taking responsibility for players that got injured like Rory Kostjasyn or Robbie Rochow who I said would do well depending on the “big question mark over whether he’ll get an opportunity at Souths”. The answer is he didn’t. So much so he switched to Melbourne halfway through the season and didn’t get a run until Round 26.

In return for not claiming the above, I also won’t take any credit for my calls on the ones to avoid – they were all gimmes and not one of them proved me wrong – Dave Taylor indeed!

But there is no escaping some of my awful calls on hole-fillers – players who I predicted would step up in the absence of departed teammates. Scott Bolton was the lone good one, the rest were rubbish.

Matt Ballin was injured so he doesn’t count, nor should Jai Arrow, we all got duped on that one. But the rest, horrible. Kenny Bromwich was completely overshadowed by Felise Kaufusi, Zane Musgrove is still a year or two away, but the worst has to be saying Lewis Brown could be in for a big year. What was I thinking? He played 21 games and scored ZERO workhorse tries.

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE YEAR

8. Aiden Tolman: (25)
9. Cameron McInnes (23)
10. Nathan Brown (22)
11. Paul Gallen (24)
12. Jake Trbojevic (24)
13. Simon Mannering (26)

14. Jack De Belin (21)
15. Josh McGuire (21)

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WORKHORSE OF THE YEAR

This year the race for Workhorse of the Year was far closer than any other with the title still up in the air going into the final match of the season.

Aiden Tolman has again finished as the bridesmaid, this time losing out to Simon Mannering.

Tolman took Workhorse of the Week honours four times, with Mannering getting the nod just twice but the Warriors back rower was up there abouts every week.

It was a thoroughly deserved win for Mannering who scored more double workhorse tries than any other player and played fewer games than Tolman and third placed Trbojevic and Gallen.

Mannering also had the most involvements in an individual game with 75 back in Round 16.

Workhorse Watch Rd 25

When I saw Sam Thaiday’s name listed at hooker in the lead up to their match against the Dragons I assumed it was just a simple way to shuffle the team sheet around and that it would be someone like Josh McGuire who would slot into the dummy-half position, but then it happened again last week against the Eels. And sure enough there was Big Sam there at the play the ball. Oh sure, he only made it for like one play in every set but he was there. At least for a little while. Thaiday finished with 23 involvements and it follows on from the Broncos having to play their halfback Ben Hunt out of position at hooker as well following the injury to Andrew McCullough. It’s also the latest in the list of players that have stepped into unfamiliar positions this season.

Injury has forced the Knights to look beyond their traditional hooking ranks with Jamie Buhrer having to slot in following the injuries to Daniel Levi and Rory Kostjasyn. After a lengthy stint on the sideline himself, Buhrer has scored six workhorse tries in nine games since his return but has missed out the last two weeks. At the Bulldogs, Moses Mbye has filled in at number 9 but that experiment ended following the injury to Josh Reynolds. Mbye managed just the one workhorse try back in Round 21.

But when it comes to players filling in at other positions, it doesn’t get any stranger than at the Cowboys with Shaun Fensom, a player notorious for not being much a ball runner being named at prop this season and John Asiata cameoing as one of the world’s most imposing five-eighths. Fensom scored his fifth workhorse try of the season on Friday with 37 tackles and 8 runs against the Tigers.

 

WORKHORSE OF THE WEEK:

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Michael Lichaa. The injury to Josh Reynolds ended the Moses Mbye experiment and brought Lichaa back into the fold and he did not disappoint NRLCEOs who have stuck with him scoring the only double workhorse of the round.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aaron Woods: 41 tackles + 16 hitups = 57
  2. Michael Lichaa: 41 tackles + 9 hitups = 50
  3. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves: 44 tackles + 12 hitups = 56
  4. Max King: 46 tackles + 9 hitups = 55
  5. Simon Mannering: 51 tackles + 12 hitups = 63
  6. Jake Trbojevic: 45 tackles + 14 hitups = 59

14. Api Koroisau: 60 tackles + 7 hitups = 67
15. Cameron McInnes: 57 tackles + 1 hitup = 58

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Last week there were 10 entrants, this week only one!

Ryan Hoffman: 23 tackles + 16 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

Continuing on from last week where we took a look at Lebanon and the NRL stars set to line up for them, we again turn our attention to some familiar names that will be lining up for their respective nations. And of course, when it comes to representing a country the term “their” can be a loose one.

Nathan Brown has had an outstanding year for the blue and gold, leading the Eels with 21 workhorse tries, which currently sits him in sixth in the league overall. Brown played 73 minutes this past week for 52 involvements (0.71 SPM) and beyond taking the Eels into the postseason will also be representing Italy at the upcoming World Cup. Brown joins a host of players very familiar to NRL fans which includes Paul Vaughan, Aidan Guerra and Mark Minichiello not to mention James Tedesco in the number 1 jersey.

There aren’t any no-names in the New Zealand side but I wanted to highlight Tohu Harris this week given that this is still supposed to be a fantasy NRL column. Harris scored his first workhorse try since Round 15 on the weekend racking up 40 involvements in 80 minutes (0.50 SPM). It’s been a disappointing season for Harris who’s struggled with injuries and has only accumulated six workhorse tries this season as a result, but with 14 games for the Kiwis under his belt, he should still be there in October/November.

Like the Kiwis, England boast a host of NRL players in their forward pack including workhorse guns Sam Burgess and James Graham. Two players instantly recognisable to NRLCEOs that will also be lining up for the Poms are Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson. They boast 17 and 13 workhorse tries respectively but neither got past the 40 mark on Friday as the Raiders and the Knights scored 74 points between them resulting in not a single workhorse coming from the Canberra pack. Whitehead had 32 involvements in 56 minutes (0.57 SPM) while Hodgson had 27 involvements in 65 minutes (0.42 SPM).

He’s not exactly a household name but as far as the American forward pack goes, Eddy Pettybourne is the closest they have to it. The Tomahawks feature a couple of players with NRL experience including backs Bureta Faraimo and Junior Vaivai while Captain America himself Joseph Paulo, is likely to line up in the halves leaving Pettybourne as the main man in the middle. Currently signed with the Gold Coast, Pettybourne represented America at the last World Cup but this season has played just two games in the top grade – (0.83 SPM).

 

JUST QUICKLY:

Good luck to those in NRLCEO Grand Finals this weekend and for those who are not and need to take your mind of the pain of another season wasted, might I recommend you head out and catch a local game.

Down in Canberra, Terry Campese is on track to win a premiership with the Queanbeyan Blues, 15 years after he won one with them playing on the wing.

In the Illawarra, Nathan Fein’s Collegians are waiting to see who they’ll play after progressing straight through to the Grand Final while down the coast the defending Group 7 Premiers Gerringong Lions, coached by Eels great Mick Cronin, are still alive after beating the Warilla Gorillas in an Elimination Final.

Finals get underway this weekend in the Newcastle comp with Brad Tighe and the always powerful Wests enjoying the week off but remaining the team to beat after winning the Minor Premiership.

And don’t forget to check back in next week for the Third Annual Workies!

Workhorse Watch Rd 24

Apparently NRLCEO is still going. After being soundly beaten last weekend I must admit I’ve moved on. Following the games this past weekend has been difficult as the WiFi on this non-descript island hideaway is dodgy at best. But seeing as though you more successful NRLCEOs are still completely immersed in your comps, I’d best do some workhorse watching.

There were some massive performances across the weekend making for some huge team totals, even my private league which doesn’t have metre eaters or nominated captains had teams scoring in the 100s and 90s. While it was the backs that were racking up the largest scores there was plenty to like up front with 11 players scoring try/workhorse try doubles with Alex Glenn crossing the stripe twice in addition to getting a workhorse – a huge step up after going scoreless the week before. Speaking of missing out, Paul Gallen who dipped out last week also came back with a vengeance, as one of the players with a try/workhorse try combo along with a double metre eater.

However, with finals pressure building there were plenty of players NRLCEOs would’ve been banking on who came up short. Jack De Belin missed out on a workhorse again this week with 39 involvements as did Josh Jackson. Mitchell Barnett also found himself in the No Cigar Club while teammate Jamie Buhrer who has been blitzing it in recent weeks at hooker, only had 38 involvements for the game.

After coming off the bench last weekend and playing 26 minutes, Josh Aloiai was a late call up from 18th man into the starting side and registered a workhorse try with exactly 40 involvements. Despite playing every game for the Tigers last year, the Auckland born front rower scored just one workhorse try compared to this year where he now has two for the season despite missing a chunk of the season following a knee injury.

Speaking of knee injuries, Trent Merrin made his return after missing four weeks following the Panthers’ round 19 game against the Warriors. It was the second rower’s first extended lay off in four years but still a fairly short one considering initial reports had him out for six to eight weeks. Merrin played 38 minutes off the bench for 23 tackles and 13 hit ups.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Josh McGuire. The Broncos back rower scored his first double workhorse try since round 9 to take his overall workhorse tally to 15 for the season. Special mention to Jake Trbojevic who also scored a double workhorse, had more metres and also scored a try but fell one involvement shy of McGuire.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Josh McGuire: 47 tackles + 14 hitups = 61
  2. Jake Friend: 52 tackles + 7 hitups = 59
  3. Nathan Brown: 36 tackles + 16 hitups = 52
  4. Paul Gallen: 36 tackles + 22 hitups = 58
  5. Matt Eisenhuth: 43 tackles + 14 hitups = 57
  6. Jake Trbojevic: 44 tackles + 16 hitups = 61

14. Coen Hess: 46 tackles + 10 hitups = 56
15. Cameron Murray: 42 tackles + 12 hitup = 54

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Jack De Belin: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Kevin Proctor: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

Adam Blair: 33 tackles + 6 hitups = 39

Mitchell Barnett: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Matt Prior: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

Shannon Boyd: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

Josh Jackson: 29 tackles + 10 hitups = 39

Jazz Tevaga: 36 tackles + 3 hitups = 39

Sione Katoa: 37 tackles + 2 hitups = 39

Siosiua Taukeiaho: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE


Although NRLCEO Finals rage on and NRL Finals also loom closer and closer, preparations for the Rugby League World Cup continue to ramp up as well with several teams announcing their train on squads in recent weeks and Lebanon, who won their way through way back in 2015, launching their jerseys this week.

The squad is largely made up of Australian based lower grade players with a sprinkling of Lebanon-based domestic players and a few genuine NRL stars. One player fast emerging as an NRL level player and a bit of a workhorse gun is the Alex Twal. The Tigers’ forward has now scored four workhorses in the last seven weeks and against the Roosters had 45 involvements in 49 minutes (0.92 SPM).

Fellow Cedar Michael Lichaa bounced back into the workhorse circle with 48 involvements in 80 minutes (0.60 SPM). Lichaa had been absent for the last two weeks and prior to that had just 13 involvements total, across three games between Rounds 18 and 21.

But the headline acts in the Lebanon side (at least up front) are no doubt Tim Mannah and Robbie Farah who were nowhere to be see on the weekend with Eels prop playing just 30 minutes against the Titans and Farah only seeing 18 minutes against the Warriors. Mannah finished with 24 involvements (0.80 SPM) while Farah had just 9 (0.50 SPM).

Moneyball Podcast: Finals Edition

It’s CEO Finals time which means Ted, Jacko and Rhys are here to steer you through the teams as you attempt to make your Grand Final!

On the back of last week’s dive into the history of their own David Finch Memorial Cup, the boys answer more questions about their fantasy lives.

And in just a random spot from nowhere they discuss the G.O.A.T out of Thurston, Smith and Johns.

 

Download on iTunes through your podcast app, download direct to your phone or listen from the player below:

If you are enjoying the show, please leave a review on iTunes.

Workhorse Watch Rd 23

Well, there’s no shame in being beaten by the best…

NRLCEOs were in crisis mode as coaches began screwing around with their line ups just as NRLCEO Finals were getting underway. Angus Crichton who has scored 15 workhorse tries this season was benched by Michael Maguire causing him to miss a workhorse for the first time in 5 weeks. Crichton came on after 23 minutes and played the remainder of the game but it was not enough to register any points. Cam Murray, fresh from his debut workhorse try last week was the big winner, starting in Crichton’s place, playing 69 minutes and scoring his second workhorse try with 46 involvements.

Right across the board it was a terrible weekend for many of the league’s top workhorses. Also in the Rabbitohs vs Bulldogs game, Sam Burgess succumbed to rib injury and left the field after 56 minutes with 32 involvements. Burgess has 18 workhorse tries for the season and the possibility that he’ll be out for the season is a blow. In the same game, Josh Jackson, who has 13 workhorse tries for the season also failed  to get a workhorse despite playing the full 80 minutes.

Of the top 40 workhorse try scorers this season, 10 of them missed workhorse tries this week and that doesn’t include those who were out this week through injury, suspension or form. Andrew Fifita (43 involvements) and Josh McGuire (42) were the only players to score workhorse tries in the Brisbane vs Cronulla game with fancied workhorses such as Matt Gillett (37) and Paul Gallen (32) missing out. Manu Ma’u (39), Jack De Belin (38), Jarrod Wallace(30), Ethan Lowe (26) and the benched Issac Luke (18) all sit in the top 40 and all missed out as well.

News that Jai Arrow has signed with the Titans will create a headache for NRLCEOs in keeper leagues. After a disappointing 2017 season where he’s had no opportunity 2018 could finally be his breakout year. While it depends on how many keepers you allow in your league, most will think Arrow is too much of a risk to hold down a keeper spot but make no mistake, the Burleigh junior will be worth an early punt in next season’s drafts. Arrow has played just 8 games this season and averaged 28.4 minutes per game but you need only look at Jarrod Wallace’s output since moving back to the Gold Coast to get a gauge of what’s in store for Arrow.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Daniel Alvaro. Coming out of left field is Daniel Alvaro who posted a career high 65 involvements including 51 tackles against the Knights. The Eels certainly were put to work on Friday night with three players from the blue and gold making the Workhorse Pack of the Week.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Daniel Alvaro: 51 tackles + 14 hitups = 65
  2. Cameron King: 57 tackles + 4 hitups = 61
  3. Reagan Campbell-Gillard: 39 tackles + 19 hitups = 58
  4. Elijah Taylor: 51 tackles + 4 hitups = 55
  5. Jake Trbojevic: 43 tackles + 12 hitups = 55
  6. Nathan Brown: 52 tackles + 11 hitups = 63

14. Aiden Tolman: 41 tackles + 14 hitups = 55
15. Simon Mannering: 40 tackles + 14 hitup = 54

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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

Michael Chee-Kam: 24 tackles + 15 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Hard to imagine but 23 rounds into the season and we’re still seeing players scoring their inaugural workhorses. Melbourne’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona scored his first workhorse try ever with 40 involvements against the Roosters. Asofa-Solomona started the game and played 48 minutes (0.83 SPM), well up on the 32 minutes per game he’s been averaging off the bench. The front rower has played all but one game this season but this is his first workhorse after coming close on two previous occasions when he ended up in the No Cigar Club in Rounds 4 and 18.

Shout out to Tim Mannah who played his 200th game on Friday night and while the Eels were flogged, Mannah had 41 involvements in just 37 minutes (1.11 SPM). Mannah regularly gets through a lot of work in his opening stint raising everyone’s hopes on a weekly basis but can sometimes be lucky to see 10 minutes in the second half. I say, raising everyone’s hopes, not me. I gave up on him a while back as I refuse to pick him and although he still sits in my squad it’s only because of the dearth of front rowers in my competition.

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I didn’t see the game but I’m intrigued to go back and watch now that I see that NRL.com had Coen Hess down for 12 missed tackles. TWELVE! Champion Data had him down for six missed tackles and just enough involvements to sneak in for a workhorse try with exactly 40 involvements (0.50 SPM). Then again, with Champion Data having the Cowboys down for 47 missed tackles and NRL.com marking them down for 56, maybe I should give it a miss.

Last week I noted the impressive season of Cameron McInnes and I would’ve kept my mouth shut had I realised I was up against him on the weekend. The Dragons’ hooker had his best game of the year notching up 18 points with a workhorse try (0.60 SPM) along with 2 tries, 2 line breaks and a line break assist. That’s now 20 workhorse tries for the season with the only blemish on his record, a 38 involvement performance back in Round 9 (and he scored an actual try in that game to make up for it).

 

JUST QUICKLY:

I’m not a Tigers fan but I’m glad to see Benji Marshall returning to where it all began. Some will argue it’s a bad move for the Tigers but if nothing else it will mean the club will always remember their greatest player fondly once he’s long retired and maybe give these kind of highlights from back in the day more of a run.

Workhorse Watch Rd 22

Few players have had breakout seasons, either this year or in previous years, that match the likes of Felise Kaufusi. The Storm forward scored his 17th workhorse try of the season, well up from the sole workhorse he scored last year. So good is Kaufusi’s season, when you take out metre eaters (and not all league play metre eaters), he is in fact the highest scoring player in the comp. Not bad for a player who was on average, the 160th pick in each league.

The same can’t be said for teammate Jesse Bromwich who sits on just six workhorse tries in 2017, well down on the double figure numbers he’s been posting for the last four seasons. Bromwich missed out again on the weekend with 28 involvements in 38 minutes of action. The Kiwi was the fifth most popular prop behind Graham, Tolman, Fifita and James at the beginning of the year but is the only one of the five not to be in double figures for workhorse tries with the other four all on 15 or more for the season.

Speaking of Ryan James, the prop lead the way with 60 involvements on the weekend for the Titans pack as they got pasted by the Broncos. All but one player in their starting forwards posted a workhorse try with James having a massive first half, registering 40 involvements in the opening 40 minutes. MASSIVE! But in a game where too many points is never enough, That, his 102 run metres meant NRLCEOs were already taking a double workhorse for granted at the break. Unfortunately the onslaught by the Broncos resulted in a second half that resulted in just three carries for 13 metres to fall short of his third double workhorse try of the season.

Anyone who picked up Cameron McInnes this season would be feeling pretty happy with themselves. The Dragons rake was picked 74th on average but out ranks all seven hookers who on average were picked before him. McInnes cracked the NRLCEO century against the Rabbitohs on Friday night and now has 19 workhorse tries for the season. That places him ahead of more fancied dummy halves Smith (97 – not including goals), McCullough (94), Hodgson (87), Friend (77), Farah (67), Lichaa (57) and Peats (49).

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Workhorse of the Week:

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Damien Cook. 18 NRLCEO points and a win for the Bunnies. Seems to me Robbie Farah’s days are numbered. Cook was the only player this week to score a double workhorse try and the former Bulldog threw a bunch of other stats including a 24th minute try to be this week’s Workhorse of the Week.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Ryan James: 45 tackles + 15 hitups = 60
  2. Damien Cook: 43 tackles + 14 hitups = 57
  3. Dylan Napa: 45 tackles + 12 hitups = 57
  4. Ethan Lowe: 45 tackles + 14 hitups = 59
  5. Jack De Belin: 43 tackles + 14 hitups = 58
  6. David Klemmer: 41 tackles + 18 hitups = 59

14. Nathan Peats: 55 tackles + 4 hitups = 59
15. Matt McIlwrick: 52 tackles + 3 hitup = 55

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Andrew Fifita: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Corey Harawira-Naera: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE


Regular reader Adrian pointed out an interesting stat on Friday night concerning Leeson Ah Mau. The Dragons forward registered exactly 40 involvements for the third straight week. Since 2015, five players have registered 40 involvement games back to back but no player had done it three consecutive weeks. Bunty Afoa and Joe Greenwood have gone back to back this season while Cameron Smith (Rounds 2 & 3) and Manu Ma’u (Rounds 14 & 15) did it last year and Mike Cooper (Rounds 3 & 4) in 2015.

Like Ah Mau, Joe Greenwood is on a run of 40 involvement games having gone back to back in the last two weeks (0.50 SPM). He’s scored workhorse tries in each of his last four games to take his tally to eight for the season. That represents great value for NRLCEOs when you consider where he was picked up on average at the beginning of the season. Greenwood was picked 180th on average, making him a steal having produced 60 points this season.

Alex Twal scored his third workhorse try as the Panther downed the Tigers. The Parramatta City junior had a sensational stats per minute score of 1.05 with 44 involvements in 42 minutes. Fellow Tiger, Matt McIlwrick also scored his third workhorse of the season with career high 55 involvements in 80 minutes (0.69 SPM) as coach Ivan Cleary chose not to play Jack Littlejohn who only saw three minutes last week.

Congratulations to Cameron Murray who scored his first ever workhorse try with 47 involvements in 50 minutes (0.94 SPM). Prior to Friday’s game against the Dragons, Murray had been averaging 27.5 minutes per game with the most he’d played being 37 minutes against the Cowboys in Round 19.

Workhorse Watch Rd 21

One of the facets of the game NRLCEO doesn’t take into account is mistakes.

While there are penalties for players that are sin binned or sent off, there’s no fallout when a player misses a tackle (especially if it leads to a try) or gives away a penalty. Take Friday’s game between Parramatta and Brisbane. The Eels started aggressively in defence, with the Broncos’ first touch of the ball, they drove Darius Boyd back eight metres in a three man tackle. The second tackle was also strong but on the third, the Eels were penalised for being inside the 10. That sparked an eight minute period where the Eels saw very little ball and the Broncos put on two quick tries. Now credit to the Eels, they dug in and eventually won the game (in fact the Broncos didn’t score another try after that), but that only serves to prove my point.

When the Eels were composed in their defence and worked as a team they controlled the game, when they tried to show too much aggression in order to get the upper hand, they made costly mistakes. Nathan Brown had 65 involvements in the game and scored his third double workhorse in a month but finished the game under a cloud after his shot on Jonas Pearson. Sometimes contact can go awry but there was no need for Brown to run out of the line the way he did. It cost his side a penalty goal and could have had bigger repercussions if it meant Parramatta were to miss their best forward, which would’ve left NRLCEOs down a prop too.

For all the tackles we laud in fantasy, it’s the mistakes that are the most telling.

One player who probably hasn’t got the plaudits throughout the season is the Dragons’ Jack De Belin. The back rower scored his first double workhorse try of the year against the Knights to take his season total to 18 workhorses. In terms of points, he just needs just one more workhorse to surpass his total from last year and yet we still have five games to go. De Belin flies under the radar somewhat as he averages 49 involvements a game which means he’s never at the very top of the workrate list each week but because he is so consistent, he’s scored a workhorse in all but one game this season.

Workhorse of the Week:

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Nathan Brown’s round high of 205 metres gained to go along with his 65 involvements saw him sweep past Aiden Tolman (69 involvements) and Cam McInnes (68 involvements) for Workhorse of the Week honours. In fact it was a big week for props, with Paul Vaughan and David Klemmer filling the Pack of the Week bench spots.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Ryan James: 48 tackles + 15 hitups = 63
  2. Cameron McInnes: 68 tackles + 0 hitups = 68
  3. Aiden Tolman: 56 tackles + 13 hitups = 69
  4. Ethan Lowe: 45 tackles + 15 hitups = 60
  5. Jack De Belin: 43 tackles + 17 hitups = 60
  6. Nathan Brown: 45 tackles + 20 hitups = 65

14. Paul Vaughan: 41 tackles + 17 hitups = 58
15. David Klemmer: 34 tackles + 22 hitup = 56

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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After a massive week last weekend, just one player made the No Cigar Club this week. However, there were nine players who scraped in for a workhorse try with 40 involvements.

Joe Stimson: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Moses Mbye scored his first ever workhorse try as the Bulldogs went down to the Panthers. The Bulldogs half only just got there with exactly 40 involvements (0.50 SPM) and is now one game away from a positional upgrade. Unfortunately Mbye’s switch to hooker did little for the Bulldogs attack which continues to languish as the worst in the league. Cameron King also scored his first workhorse try in the Eels’ win over the Broncos. Like Mbye, he finished with exactly 40 involvements (0.50 SPM).

Bryce Cartwright made his return to the NRL after a two month lay off. The Panthers backrower came off the bench and had 27 involvements in 33 minutes (0.82 SPM). It was a tentative return though with the St Mary’s junior missing four tackles. In other news, I just checked his bio and the guy is only 22 years old! I know players are young these days but it blows my mind when you consider that he made his NRL debut back in 2014.

The injury list for hookers has reached a new level of disaster with the injury to Andrew McCullough. McCullough managed to secure a workhorse try (0.58 SPM) before doing some major damage to his ACL and MCL which is said to leave him out for up to eight months – next season is seven months away. He joins a long list of first choice hookers now sidelined for the season including Jayden Brailey, Kaysa Pritchard and Matt Ballin. Throw in the turmoil at hooker at both the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs and the pickings are very slim.

Fortunately though we have Victor Radley, who scored his first ever workhorse try with 52 involvements in 80 minutes. (0.65 SPM). The Clovelly Crocodile played on after injuring his hand in the first ten minutes, topping the tackle count for the game. With Jake Friend still a week away from returning, the fact it wasn’t more serious is a welcome relief for the Roosters faithful.

 

JUST QUICKLY:

The finals have come a week early to my private league with eight teams battling it out for six finals spots. The top three are safe but the next three are up for grabs. Due to the way the draw is in the final round, the scenario for each team is simple, win and you’re in. Meanwhile, the rest of the league is looking to the future and shit is already getting real with the likelihood of our league introducing trade offers involving draft picks. This could get messy!

Workhorse Watch Rd 20

If AFL ever takes over rugby league in Sydney, I’ll understand the what but not the why and how. Your workhorse correspondent headed to the SCG on Saturday night to see  Sydney take on St Kilda and while the Swannies are in great form at the moment and the 35,773 was the biggest crowd I’d watched a footy game with in quite a while, I was honestly bored. I was ready to go home at quarter time. My favourite part of an AFL game is the macho, push and shove game that happens before the ball is in play which then immediately subsides the moment umpire blows time on. Seriously, what is that about? Thankfully not all was lost, with the tackle by Isaac Heeney on Jarryn Geary an absolute ball tearer. Unfortunately it probably would have been deemed an illegal tackle had it been made in the NRL and in AFL it’s just shy of a hangable offence.

Meanwhile, has the NRL looked into claiming Auskick juniors for themselves? Obviously the rules of all sports are modified to help kids develop but apparently when you’re really little, the concept of touching the ball on the ground is completely thrown out the window. Instead kids just tuck the ball under the arm and run the length of the field with a swarm of other players in toe. These kids are born league players!

No sir, give me a day out at the 8th Wonder of the World, Henson Park alongside “8,972” rugby league die hards any day. The Newtown Jets hosted their second annual Beer, Footy & Food Festival with resounding success. The hill was packed, the craft beer was flowing and the jerk chicken and buttermilk chicken tacos were well worth the wait. On the field it was all Newtown as the Jets ran in 7 tries to 2 with fringe Sharks forward Sam Tagataese getting across the stripe twice and Captain America himself Joseph Paulo, scoring a try to go with 4 goals.

Up front, former Wagga Kangaroo Jaimin Jolliffe lead the way for the home side with 32 tackles and 17 runs for 140 metres in 70 minutes of action while for the Warriors, the very appropriately named King Vuniyawa topped the tackle count for the match with 36 tackles to go with 7 runs.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Ryan James. Simon Mannering topped the involvement count but Ryan James had the metres to ensure his 63 involvements added up to a double metre eater. It was a big bounce back for the Titans prop having missed out entirely last weekend with 38 involvements.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Ryan James: 48 tackles + 15 hitups = 63
  2. Nathan Peats: 46 tackles + 4 hitups = 50
  3. Jarrod Wallace: 37 tackles + 15 hitups = 52
  4. Elliott Whitehead: 49 tackles + 9 hitups = 58
  5. Simon Mannering: 54 tackles + 14 hitups = 68
  6. Jake Trbojevic: 49 tackles + 9 hitups = 58

14. Jack De Belin: 32 tackles + 24 hitups = 56
15. Aidan Guerra: 39 tackles + 16 hitup = 57

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Standing room only in the No Cigar Club this weekend. Prior to this weekend, eight was the amount we’ve had over the last three rounds combined.

Joe Wardle: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

Shaun Fensom: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Ben Matulino: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Daniel Alvaro: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

Paul Vaughan: 24 tackles + 15 hitups = 39

Sam Burgess: 22 tackles + 17 hitups = 39

Mitchell Pearce: 31 tackles + 8 hitups = 39

Alex Twal: 28 tackles + 11 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

Mitchell Pearce was given a thorough workout against Newcastle with the Knights sending so many runners at him that he found himself in the No Cigar Club. Pearce had 31 tackles and 8 runs (0.49 SPM) which was his highest number of involvements since Round 9 when he qualified for a workhorse try against the Warriors. Pearce is one of the most worked over halves in the game and averages 21.7 tackles per game; Daly Cherry-Evans is the only halfback who averages more (24.3). Compare that to Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston who average just 13.6 and 13.3 tackles per game and it’s little wonder they get the plaudits as the best playmakers in the game – they do a fraction of the work of the more maligned Pearce and DCE.

The Trent Robinson continues to draw directly from the Brian Smith School of Coaching with some last minute mind games. Whilst Connor Watson finally got to run out in the position he had been named in, Mitch Cornish was demoted back to the bench in favour of rookie Victor Radley. Radley had 37 involvements in 67 minutes (0.55 SPM) to fall just short of a workhorse try on debut.

NRLCEOs scrambling for a decent front rower late in the season might want to look at Raiders forward Joe Tapine. The former Knights has been a frequent member of Ricky Stuart’s 17 throughout the season but in the last two weeks has strung together consecutive workhorse tries. Tapine’s workrate has exploded going from an SPM of 0.72 to 0.92 in the last fortnight. In that two week time frame he’s missed just one tackle.

My foray into AFL meant I missed one of the truly remarkable moments of the season and that was Shaun Fensom starting Saturday night’s game as a prop forward! I know I said Fensom was having some great games in terms of meterage recently but naming him in the front row?! Fensom fell into the Close But No Cigar club after only managing 36 minutes (1.08 SPM) after coming off with a rib injury in the second half. Meanwhile teammate Coen Hess went even better with 46 involvements in 41 minutes (1.12 SPM)

Workhorse Watch Rd 19

Eisenhuth is German for Iron Hat and the Tigers forward showed plenty of strength in his opening three weeks but finds himself in the No Cigar Club this week. The Germans have an expression for that

“Knapp daneben ist auch vorbei.”

Translation: Coming close is also missing it.

It concludes the best start to a workhorse’s career in living memory with no other forward beginning their career with three straight workhorse tries. Usually forwards have a slow start, making their top grade debut off the bench before working their way into the side and becoming established workhorses. But Matt Eisenhuth has proven he’s got just as much ticker as his cousin Paul Gallen and while his run of consecutive workhorses may have ended hopefully there more to come – or as the Germans say,

“Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.”

Translation: Everything has an end, only the sausage has two.
Elliott Whitehead had a similar start to his NRL career with the Raiders forward scoring three workhorses in a row when he started back in Round 1 2015. He then missed two workhorses but then went on another 14 in a row to total 21 for the season. Of course Whitehead did have 177 Super League games under his belt and was an English representative by the time he donned the lime green. Whitehead got back amongst the workhorse tries on the weekend with 41 involvements against the Dragons after missing out in Round 17.

Mitch Barnett kind of comes into calculations if you discount his two games for the Raiders in 2015 (which we’re not although it should be noted that Barnett is actually younger than Eisenhuth, a player who has spent several years injured and in the lower grades). After moving to the Knights, Barnett went on a tear, scoring nine straight workhorses to finish the 2016 season. On Saturday he scored his 12th workhorse try of this season and had his best running game, clocking up a season high 126 metres. Similarly, Ethan Lowe played two games off the bench in 2013 and didn’t play first grade again Round 11 2014, where he went on a five game workhorse run.

Jayden Brailey is the obvious choice for Workhorse Rookie of the Year with nine workhorse tries for the season including three in his first four weeks. However there have been six weeks where he’s missed out, so on strike rate the balance falls back to Eisenhuth. If the Tigers’ forward can get back on track and score a workhorse every week between now and the end of the season, he’ll draw level with Brailey and strengthen his claim on the title, depending whether the Sharks hooker makes it back from a broken jaw and can add to his tally.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Paul Gallen had a personal season high of 74 involvements as the Sharks were pasted by the Titans in torrential conditions on Saturday night. I’ve been critical in the past when Gallen has hogged so much of the pill but Saturday’s game played on what resembled more of a pond than a field, were the exact conditions his style of play calls for. Unfortunately none of his teammates caught on.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Aaron Woods: 38 tackles + 20 hitups = 58
  2. Robbie Farah: 46 tackles + 6 hitups = 52
  3. Andrew Fifita: 37 tackles + 14 hitups = 51
  4. Mitch Barnett: 43 tackles + 14 hitups = 57
  5. Simon Mannering: 53 tackles + 12 hitups = 65
  6. Paul Gallen: 52 tackles + 22 hitups = 74

14. Cameron McInnes: 68 tackles + 2 hitups = 70
15. Jack De Belin: 43 tackles + 14 hitup = 57

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Wade Graham: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Martin Taupau: 19 tackles + 20 hitups = 39

Sam Lisone: 32 tackles + 7 hitups = 39

Tom Burgess: 26 tackles + 13 hitups = 39

Matt Eisenhuth: 30 tackles + 9 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

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Congratulations to Josh King who scored the first workhorse try of his career, accruing exactly 40 involvements against the Broncos. The Knights forward played 50 minutes (0.80 SPM), well up on the 37 minutes he’s been averaging so far this season. At 21 years of age, King is very young to be starting prop, then again, coach Nathan Brown has little choice but to bring these players through.

Congratulations also goes to Jai Arrow who scored his first workhorse try of the season in the same game. It’s been a miserable year for those who were hoping Arrow would be the next big thing, with the Broncos backrower playing just seven games this season and averaging just 24.5 minutes per game. On Saturday Arrow played 51 minutes after getting called into the run on team and finished with 42 involvements (0.82 SPM) and 154 metres gained.

It didn’t do much for the NRL result but NRLCEOs boasting Robbie Farah were happy to see the Rabbitohs rake secure his first double workhorse try of the season. Farah played the full game and had 52 involvements (0.65 SPM). His 80 minutes came at the expense of Damien Cook who was dropped by coach Michael Maguire prior to kick off and left NRLCEOs seething. Coming in at the expense of Cook was rookie Cameron Murray who had 17 involvements in 25 minutes (0.68 SPM) – not a bad effort for a guy who, according to the picture and link in his NRLCEO bio, is usually playing sixth or seventh tier soccer in England!

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Normal service resumed over at the Sea Eagles on Sunday with the team only scoring three workhorse tries against the Tigers, the team that normally concedes the most amount of any team. Well done to Shaun Lane who managed to not only hold down his place in the Manly back row but also score another workhorse try with 42 involvements in 80 minutes (0.53 SPM). Once Jake Trbojevic returned (0.61 SPM) I assumed that at the very least Lane’s numbers might drop below the 40 mark but with Trbojevic only playing 66 minutes there was enough work for Lane to get his second workhorse of the season. Trbojevic usually plays upwards of 75 minutes a game so Lane might still feel the pinch in coming weeks but for now, those who took a punt on him are feeling pretty chuffed.

 

JUST QUICKLY:

My thanks to the Commissioner, Jamie B for his data gathering efforts this week. We’ll make a workhorse watcher out of you yet!

Workhorse Watch Rd 18

What was I saying last week about the Sea Eagles only averaging 2.4 workhorse tries per game? That stat got blown out of the water against the Panthers with Manly scoring SIX workhorse tries including Lloyd Perrett and Shaun Lane scoring their first workhorse tries of the season. Both players made the Workhorse Team of the Week with Lane accruing 53 involvements and Perrett getting 51. Neither had scored a workhorse try since 2015 and joined teammates Brenton Lawrence, Api Koroisau, Frank Winterstein and Martin Taupau in getting workhorse tries this week.

Martin Taupau had his best workhorse game of the season racking up 45 involvements against the Panthers. Taupau’s workrate in attack is among the best in league as he averages the third most metres per game among forwards with 164 metres per match but his average of 23 tackles a game means he’s generally only 50/50 on getting a workhorse and when he does, he only just gets there; four of his eight workhorse tries have come from either 40 or 41 involvements.

Free Connor Watson!

NRLCEOs were disappointed to see the five-eighth benched prior to kick off after initially being named in the starting side for the Roosters in Friday night’s game. Watson may not be a forward but he is one of several players that were earmarked for promising things at the start of the season especially after scoring 44 points last year but he still hasn’t been given a legitimate shot. It begs the question, ‘which is worse’? Having a player coming off the bench getting sporadic opportunities or one getting none at all? At least if a player like Jai Arrow or Nat Butcher isn’t getting a run you can just cut them, but a player like Watson who is there every week can be frustrating especially during bye affected weeks.

Nate Myles played his first game for Melbourne and came close to a workhorse try with 37 involvements against Parramatta. Myles was a late inclusion in the starting side but despite this, and playing 47 minutes (well up on the 35 minutes he was averaging at Manly) Myles still couldn’t crack it for his first workhorse try of the season.

 

Workhorse of the Week:

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Aiden Tolman. Tolman again takes Workhorse of the Week honours for the third time this season, edging out the Eels’ Nathan Brown. If not for the fact that Brown has dual positioning and Waerea-Hargreaves made more metres than Dale Finucane, we would have seen the exact same front row as last week.

 

WORKHORSE PACK OF THE WEEK

  1. Lloyd Perrett: 42 tackles + 9 hitup = 51
  2. Jake Friend: 62 tackles + 2 hitups = 65
  3. Aiden Tolman: 49 tackles + 17 hitups = 66
  4. Shaun Lane: 41 tackles + 12 hitups = 53
  5. Slade Griffin: 40 tackles + 10 hitups = 50
  6. Nathan Brown: 49 tackles + 22 hitups = 65

14. Api Koroisau: 49 tackles + 4 hitups = 53
15. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves: 30 tackles + 20 hitups = 50

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

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Nelson Asofa-Solomona: 27 tackles + 12 hitups = 39

Tohu Harris: 25 tackles + 14 hitups = 39

 

STATS PER MINUTE

Whilst Nat Butcher is still yet to really get a proper crack in first grade there’s no doubting his workhorse potential. Butcher played just 12 minutes on Friday but had 16 involvements to post the best stats per minute score of the round with 1.33. That beats his work rate in Round 16 (1.09 SPM) and in his NRL debut last year (0.82 SPM).

Daniel Alvaro had arguably the best stats per minute though considering he scored a workhorse try. Alvaro had 44 involvements in just 34 minutes (1.29 SPM) on the way to his seventh workhorse try of the season. His teammate Tim Mannah was also tracking well with 17 involvements before coming off with concussion after just 13 minutes (1.31 SPM). With that being said, Mannah usually has a heavy involvement early, safe in the knowledge that once he goes off after 20 minutes he usually doesn’t come back on until the last 15.

Des Hasler’s search for some form from the Bulldogs has cost NRLCEOs one of the league’s leading workhorses with Michael Lichaa dumped to the bench against Newcastle and only coming on with six minutes remaining. Lichaa (0.33 SPM) only got 5 touches of the ball (and no runs) and only had to make 2 tackles as the final six minutes of the game were the most chaotic as the Bulldogs ran in two tries to win the game. The man who shifted to dummy half, Moses Mbye played the full 80 minutes but only had 35 involvements (0.44 SPM).

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Well done to Leilani Latu who scored his first workhorse try of the season with an excellent stats per minute score of 1.02. Latu had 43 involvements in 42 minutes. His minutes were only marginally up on his normal average (37 minutes per game) but his work rate was much higher than the usual 0.70 SPM. The difference was in attack with Latu running the ball twice as much as what he normally does to bring up his first workhorse.