Wilfred Zee reviews the week that was in SuperCoach NRL.
Wilfred Zee reviews the week that was in SuperCoach NRL.

SuperCoach NRL: 10 things we learned in Round 4

THIS season has been brutal so far. Injuries, players being dropped, players being out of form, more injuries - it's one thing after another.

I know some SuperCoaches out there are already reeling from the string of injuries they've been hit with. The best way to get over it is to start looking to next week, so let's learn our lessons from Round 4 and move on.

Let's get into it.

1. Hamstring strains might be the 2019 "syndesmosis" injury epidemic

Some of you would remember a few years ago, there was a constant string of syndesmosis injuries for a variety of players across that season. Trbojevic and Munster were among the key names to have spent time on the sidelines for one of those injuries that year. Ring a bell? Well, 2019 seems like the year of the hamstring. Tom Trbojevic, Matt Moylan, Braidon Burns and of course, Tevita Pangai's ongoing battles. These pesky hamstrings are so important to our footy players but also so fragile at times. Almost 2900 SuperCoaches traded Moylan, Burns or Taumalolo to Tommy Turbo - ouch. Take a hint and read up on hamstring strains  - they aren't pleasant injuries to have to deal with because the rate of re-injury is significant, and can force a player out for an extended period of time. My personal opinion is that Turbo is a SELL because of this re-injury - it's too long to have that amount of coin sitting on the bench, especially with the risk of re-injury being so high!

Damien Cook continues to score. Picture: Mark Evans
Damien Cook continues to score. Picture: Mark Evans

2. Damien Cook is still the premium hooker for SuperCoach

There were concerns in the pre-season. There were concerns after Round 1, and then again after Round 3. But Damien Cook is still the undisputed #1 hooker in SuperCoach, despite being outscored this week by Cameron Smith (who needed a try assist/linebreak assist to do so though). Why? He is playing 80 minutes, he has a high work rate in defence, he has an increased playmaking role (which has already seen a marked increase in his forced dropouts and try assists/linebreak assists) and he plays in a high-powered offence. This week he scored 66 with the "biggest" attacking stat being a forced dropout. He is a legitimate captain option each week, and that's why he was worth starting with from Round 1. Injuries to other high-priced players have obviously resulted in Cook becoming affordable for those who started without him though.


3. Angus Crichton is back

Much has been said about Cricthton being benched, and the rumours persist about his shoulder, but this week he was started on the right edge without an injury reshuffle or anything like that. Mitch Aubusson was forced to the bench by Crichton, who then played the full 80 minutes and beat his break-even to start rising in price. In such a high-scoring game, Crichton still managed to rack up 54 points in tackles, hit-ups, tackle busts and offloads. Having Cooper Cronk giving him good ball is certainly helping that right edge too. For an edge backrower with his attacking upside, his floor is almost as high as they come … except for …

Rhyse Martin is back in a big way. Picture: Getty Images
Rhyse Martin is back in a big way. Picture: Getty Images

4. Guess who's back, back again

Affectionately known as "God 2.0" (especially by Trent Copeland), Rhyse Martin is back. He's now played two games in a row for 80 minutes on the left edge (despite being named at lock), and scored 65 and 68 in his "base" across the two weeks - that's his tackles, hit-ups, tackle busts, offloads and goalkicking points. A ridiculously high floor, if he gets even a single attacking stat, he will be an absolute throwback to Corey Parker in his hey day - justifying the God 2.0 moniker from a SuperCoach perspective, even if he has much to improve on from a rugby league perspective. He presents as a very tantalising option, but the risk lies in Dean Pay's potential team reshuffles. He was obviously out of favour and while his numbers are super impressive for SuperCoach, you can't say with any confidence that he has performed well enough on the field to guarantee himself an ongoing 80-minute role in that team.

5. He came in like a wrecking ball

I'm officially ditching the "Idris 2.0" tag because I don't feel it's fair to make the comparison for Jayden Okunbor - I'm going to refer to him as Jayden Wrecking Ball instead. As Cam Smith alluded to during his post-match media interview, when Okunbor came up to him and shook his hand, Smith complimented him on his game and then playfully commented, "thanks for sending me flying me a few times too" - referring to obviously those wrecking-ball like runs of Okunbor during the game that literally sent players flying backwards. Oh, and he's obviously an absolute must-have this week and he could actually make even more money than Briton Nikora in his first price-rise - depending on how he goes this week.

Kalyn Ponga has impressed since his return to fullback. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)
Kalyn Ponga has impressed since his return to fullback. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images) Tony Feder

6. Kalyn Ponga is BACK

Well, he never really went away but how good was he at fullback? There's no question about it, the Knights would be silly if they didn't keep him back there. Owners who held on faithfully were rewarded for their patience with this score of 88; those who took the punt on not starting with him from Round 1 were not hurt too much with his average of 53.0 from Rounds 1 to 4, and now get the chance to pick him up for a $72,100 discount on his starting price. With a break-even of 73, he won't get much cheaper, especially has he kept his goalkicking duties too. Starting five eighth of my SuperCoach team sorted, thank you very much.

7. Leipana 2016 is … back?

We saw in 2016 how potent Leipana was - it was off the back of BJ Leilua and Jordan Rapana just toying with their opposition with ridiculous dummy half running, busting tackles, throwing offloads and just causing havoc all over the field. It was a throwback to those days when the two of them got extremely involved this week - scoring 41 and 42 points in base and base attack stats respectively. It's not quite at 2016 levels, but it's the closest they have been for a while. Great signs and well worth keeping an eye on!

Jordan Rapana on the charge for the Raiders. Picture: Getty Images
Jordan Rapana on the charge for the Raiders. Picture: Getty Images

8. (AE) Nightmare on Brailey Street

It's not a new lesson, but we were reminded about the nightmare that is a late scratching; Shaun Johnson being named in final team lists, only to experience "quad tightness" towards the end of the warm-ups and being ruled out. Enter the auto-emergency (AE) nightmare - your lowest scoring non-playing reserve (NPR, or lowest score above zero from your bench players). Some of us warned SuperCoaches against starting with the likes of Blayke Brailey, a bench hooker likely to get about 15-20 minutes off the bench at most, and often scoring less than 15 points in a game. Blayke Brailey owners who also owned Shaun Johnson would have copped a double slap across the face with not just the loss of a gun scorer in SJ, but to have him replaced by an AE score of 11. Ouch.

9. Ryan Matterson is a machine

We knew he liked to get stuck in and work, but to miss 13 minutes of a possible 84 (due to golden point) and still rack up the base stats he scored in this game, it's just SuperCoach gold. He scored 65 points in tackles, hit-ups and tackle busts - that's almost a point per minute in his 71 minutes on the field. The try later on was just a sweetener for the 8% of SuperCoaches who own him - a great POD choice.

10. Blake Ferguson hasn't skipped a beat

Plenty of SuperCoaches were damning of Fergo's prospects for SuperCoach this year - yours truly included. I mean, the base stats were always going to be there but few saw him being able to maintain his attacking stats. Well, he is doing that, and more. He's actually averaging 73.8 points per game across the first four rounds - enough to be the sixth highest points scorer for the season so far. Yet 10% of SuperCoaches own him, that's incredible. He actually has increased in price by $33,700, and while the Eels play Round 12, if Fergo keeps up his form, he is a definite chance to play Origin you would think.

Good luck for Round 5

No cringe-worthy song lyrics this week, it's all serious business as we are settling in to the weekly grind that is NRL SuperCoach. Trades are burning, teams are being ripped apart and some SuperCoaches (probably the 1700-1800 SuperCoaches that sold Teddy) are tearing their hair out at this point. But, it's fun though, right?