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Matt Lodge injury: NRL, SuperCoach ramifications

Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge

Matt Lodge will reportedly miss a large chunk of the NRL season after suffering a partial tear to his ACL at training on Wednesday.

The blow to the key Broncos forward will have enormous SuperCoach ramifications on the entire pack.

It’s expected to solidify the minutes of a number of men, while opportunities should open up for others.

Obviously there will be a serious watch on the Brisbane trials as well as any word out of Red Hill from Anthony Seibold.

While plenty of uncertainty remains, here’s how we see Brisbane’s pack being impacted.


Firstly, what void will be left by Lodge?

Lodge averaged 57 minutes per game last season, while Seibold was happy to play his starting prop in excess of 60 minutes on many occasions.

Seibold has a preference for playing his best players, and props, for increased minutes should they be able to churn them out.

Therefore, it’s unlikely the man considered a club leader would’ve seen a regression in game time in 2020.

Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr.


TPJ may come into major consideration as a result of the injury.

With David Fifita locked into one edge role, TPJ was vying for the starting role with veteran Alex Glenn.

TPJ recently stated his preference to play in the back-row rather than the middle.

Basically, Seibold now must decide if he moves Joe Ofahengaue to prop (he started the first six rounds there in 2020), to allow TPJ to start at lock.

It seems logical, although he has plenty of options in the pack to promote to the starting prop role.

It’s likely we’ll see the Tongan international start on an edge then shift to the middle at stages throughout the match.

TPJ averaged 60MPG last season, so there now appears, fitness pending, an opportunity for increased game time.

With dual FRF/2RF status at an affordable $540,600k, he now warrants consideration as a result of the injury.

Brisbane Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue


Starting lock role or not, Ofa was fairly irrelevant prior to Lodge’s injury due to the masses of front-row options in the side. Now, he’s worth some consideration.

He scored at an impressive 1.12PPM last season for an average of 48PPG in 43MPG.

This should see a fairly significant rise in game time for the middle man, perhaps 5-15 minutes, but it’s hard to know at this early stage.

Ofa is awkwardly priced at $449,500, so there’s obvious risk, but not without upside.

Brisbane Broncos prop Payne Haas


We won’t waste much time here, Haas was already in just about every side to start the year regardless.

It simply solidifies the fact he’ll maintain his 64MPG average from 2019, which is reassuring when you’re forking out $728k for a young bloke in his second serious year in the NRL.


Again, keeping it short.

Any doubts over Fifita’s 80-minute role should now be put to rest.

Brisbane Broncos back-rower David Fifita

With TPJ likely in line to spend time in the middle, Fifita shouldn’t be taking a sit at any stage.


Both men look to be the major benefactors of the injury to Lodge.

They should both receive increased game time, while one of the two could start at prop should Seibold opt to keep Ofahengaue at lock.

Flegler ($294,900) averaged 32MPG in his debut NRL season, while Carrigan ($326,300) averaged 34MPG.

Both players scored at a tick over 1PPM.


It’s hard to assess at this early stage, but we can only have a crack.

The easy option out of this for Seibold is to start captain Alex Glenn in the back-row, TPJ at lock and Ofahengaue at prop.

This may well be his decision, but let’s say TPJ stays on an edge with Joe O remaining at lock which is also a very viable solution.

This would open up a starting prop role, which would fall to either of the rookies in Carrigan or Flegler.

Carrigan is extremely highly regarded at Brisbane, but he’s not as big a body as Flegler.

Young Brisbane Broncos prop Thomas Flegler

Seibold will probably want to replace size with size, so Flegler probably starts.

Regardless of who is chosen, both Carrigan and Flegler would both likely play a minimum of 10-15 minutes extra.

TPJ may get an extra 5-10 minutes, although if his body holds up he could be in line for a serious increase.

Even if starting on an edge, it looks as though he’ll have to spend time in the middle to cover the minutes lost by Lodge.

Ofahengaue should also play an additional 10-15 minutes to help fill the void.

Regardless of who comes onto the bench remains fairly SuperCoach irrelevant as it’s hard to see them gaining enough minutes to earn any decent cash.

Keep an eye out for extremely highly regarded young Broncos prop (yep, another one), Ethan Bullemor.

Shaun Johnson: Player in Focus (Supercoach)

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

Cronulla playmaker Shaun Johnson looms as one of the most intriguing and important selection decisions to begin the SuperCoach season.

Johnson’s enormous ceiling could make-or-break the early stages of the year, particularly should the likes of Mitchell Moses and Nathan Cleary falter around him.

While he’ll be popular for many, a large number of SuperCoaches have placed the flamboyant Sharks five-eighth on their ‘never again’ list as a result of his injury.

With the amount at stake on the decision, we’re taking a deep dive into whether or not Johnson is worth taking the gamble on to start 2020.

After being a standout halves option in past seasons, SJ came back to the pack in 2018 and 2019 with respectable averages of 64 and 63PPG.

Despite numerous injuries, he still managed to average 80 and 76MPG in each season, thus meaning his scores haven’t been too effected by the injuries (at least in regards to overall game time).

Johnson has played over 18 games in a season just once in the past five years (2016).

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

His base of just 18BPG is underwhelming, however, it’s been heavily impacted by a reduced running game while playing without full fitness.

Many fans fail to appreciate the difficulty in moving to a new club for playmakers, in particular key halves such as Johnson.

The greatest combinations in rugby league history struggled at times in their early formation.

Most recently, the new-look Roosters spine back in 2018 of James Tedesco, Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary and Jake Friend.

Tedesco that season averaged 63PPG in the opening 15 rounds, then finished the season with an average 96PPG in his final seven games once finding his mojo alongside his new combination.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

That’s not to say SJ matches Tedesco’s following season exploits; simply that the improvement should come naturally.

It took the star quartet several months to hit their straps on field and in SuperCoach scoring.

With a full season in the Shire behind him, Johnson will be far more at home with the men around him.

In validation, when seemingly back to full fitness at the back end of 2019, Johnson went on an absolute tear.

He averaged 80PPG in the final eight games of the season.

Vital to his SuperCoach selection in 2020 will be the fact he’s available as a dual HFB-5/8.

Dual positioning has been cut down across the game this season.

Many of his main halves rivals including Cleary, Moses, Cody Walker, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster have been locked into their sole positions.

Never underestimate the value of dual position status, particularly to begin this season with many having Raiders recruit George Williams in their side – also a dual HFB-5/8.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

A serious downside to his selection is Cronulla’s brutal opening fixtures.

The Sharks face the Rabbitohs, Storm, Knights, Bulldogs, Roosters and Broncos in their opening six weeks.

Read into that as you will…

Furthermore, with Shark Park’s redevelopment he won’t be playing at his regular home ground throughout the season, with the club to play home games at Jubilee Oval.

It should also be noted Cronulla have the bye in Round 12, so SJ won’t be available for the first major bye week.

As for his current health?

Johnson appeared very open and honest in a recent interview where he declared his body was ‘too weak’ for the rigours of the NRL in 2019.

He returned to training almost immediately after his New Zealand Test campaign at the end of the year.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

He believes his body is far stronger than it has been in the past in preparation for 2020.

It’s hard to read into too many pre-season comments, but Johnson is one of the more forward NRL players when speaking, and he seems bullish about his fitness levels.

SC Playbook Kalyn Ponga profile

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

The fullback position alone is set to make-or-break the early stages of the SuperCoach season.

Major changes have resulted in an absolutely stacked position, yet coaches can fit just two stars into their round 1 team.

The logjam is so intense that many well credentialed coaches have superstar playmaker Kalyn Ponga struggling to make their top five.

Val Holmes returns from his NFL venture at a discounted price, Ryan Papenhuyzen is locked into an 80-minute role.

Latrell Mitchell will see plenty more ball in the No.1 jumper, while the likes of James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic face a tough task to match career-high seasons.

But if we take a greater look into Ponga’s numbers, there’s a strong case to suggest he could be a very strong POD to start the year.

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

Ponga upped his 2018 average of 66PPG to 68PPG last season, with a few additional goal-kicking conversions making up the difference.

As it stands, Ponga is set to take on the fulltime goal-kicking role at the Knights with young gun Phoenix Crossland tipped to edge Mason Lino as the club’s five-eighth.

Lino had 33 conversions last season at 84%, so if we add 30 of these conversions onto Ponga’s overall score – based on his 80% success rate – he would have upped his average to 74PPG.

Further to this, Ponga spent the first three games of the season out of position at five-eighth.

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

In 17 games at fullback, he averaged 73PPG for the season.

Internal dramas surrounding then coach Nathan Brown tore apart the Knights’ run home, winning just two of their final six games, with the losses coming in emphatic fashion.

It’s easy to pick and choose stats to make a case for buying a player but leading into the final six games, Ponga averaged 76.6PPG prior to the slide.

Ponga is available at a $147k discount to Tedesco ($781,500) and an $80k discount to Trbojevic ($714,800).

He’ll stay in his preferred fullback role, likely as fulltime goal-kicker, in a Newcastle side strongly tipped to improve on their 2019 performance.

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

It’s also easy to forget Ponga will play in just his third full NRL season.


MPG = Minutes per game

PPG = Points per game

PPM = Points per minute

BPG = Base per game (point accrued in tackles + runs + missed tackles)

POD = Point of difference

SC Playbook – George Williams

Newly signed Canberra Raiders halfback George Williams

Canberra’s latest star English recruit George Williams is set to be a highly popular inclusion into a multitude of SuperCoach outfits for the season opener.

Entering his debut season in the NRL with a wealth of experience that includes 11 Test caps, Williams’ seemingly SuperCoach friendly game should make him an absolute steal as a dual position 5/8, HFB at just $330,800.

That starting price has been assessed on what would be an average of just 35.9PPG, but delving into his 2019 Super League stats with Wigan suggests the livewire playmaker has plenty more in store and the all important early season price rises.

Williams notched some serious numbers in a year capped by a nomination for the five-man Man of Steel shortlist for the competition’s best player, eventually taken out by NRL exile Jackson Hastings.

Williams starred during his time with Wigan.

According to his stats across 29 regular season games, Williams would have accumulated an estimated 2170 SuperCoach points for a stunning average of 74.8PPG.

He ticked just about every box you want from an attacking player, most importantly his consistent base stats.

Newly signed Canberra Raiders halfback George Williams

Promisingly, Williams absolutely loves to run the ball.

During 2019, he had 408 carries equating to 14 per game.

He scored 14 tries, assisted a further 21, had 122 tackle breaks, 18 linebreaks, 46 offloads and 488 tackles at 16.8 per game.

Several SuperCoach relevant stats weren’t available, so estimations were made to achieve his predicted average.

Of his 46 offloads, 40 were awarded as effective (4 points), while six were deemed non-effective (2 points).

Of his 408 runs, 204 were awarded as hit ups over 8m (2 points), while the other 204 were hit ups under 8m (1 point).

Linebreak assists weren’t available, so we gave the star playmaker an estimated 15.

New Canberra Raiders half George Williams

If Williams can emulate even half of his predicted average, he’d still see a rise on his starting price.

If he can notch an average of approximately 50PPG, he’d rise to around $470k and with it provide coaches with an additional $167k value in their salary caps.

However, there is a degree of risk in the seemingly safe purchase.

While English forwards have thrived in the NRL, their backline counterparts, namely playmakers, haven’t had much success.

Sam Tomkins won the Man of Steel award in 2012 as a fullback, then had mixed success on his venture to Australia in 2014.

Sam Tomkins had mixed fortunes during his NRL stint.

His NRL form was patchy at best, but promisingly averaged 59 SuperCoach points in his debut season, then just 30PPG in 2015.


Injury an

New Canberra Raiders half George Williams

d homesickness forced his return to the UK the following season.

Fullback Zak Hardaker was named Man of Steel in 2015, but managed to play just a handful of NRL for Penrith primarily off the bench when joining the club in 2016.

In 11 games, Hardaker averaged 25PPG in 33 minutes at .74PPM.

The likes of Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson, Greg Eden, Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins are among more recent backline UK imports that came to the NRL and failed to deliver (with respects to the latter two who have been respectable without translating to serious SuperCoach scores in limited stints thus far).

The bigger issue for George Williams is this.

While at stages proving capable of playing an organisational role as a halfback, he’s primarily a ball-running five-eighth as his stats suggest.

This isn’t to say he can’t evolve into his new halves role, but it’ll be essential to his success alongside Clive Churchill medal winner Jack Wighton at five-eighth.

Canberra Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton

Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for new halves to gel as a combination early on in their relationship, so don’t expect fireworks in the opening rounds.

He’ll take on more ownership of the side than he has in the past, which will likely limit his attacking output.

The upside is that he comes into a raging hot side who score points for fun and should feature late into September again in 2020.

Get on from round one, but don’t expect monster scores from the outset.

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