With the NRL coming through the very strange but certainly successful stand-alone State of Origin weekend, we now kick straight back into the regular swing of things with a full round of fixtures and a near-normal period of rest for the players. Still, some teams have made the early decision to rest their rep heroes, with the English and Kiwi players from the Denver test match most likely to miss out.
Footy returns Thursday night with the league’s best team playing arguably its worst. The Dragons, despite holding the top position, still are yet to put in a complete 80 minute performance, and they should be looking to games like Thursday’s clash with Parramatta to iron out the still many issues in their game.
Pre-season this would have seemed a fantastic way to kick off a post Origin break, but instead it should be something of a training run for the Dragons. Tyson Frizell appears to be the only one that will be rested for St George, after his heroics helped NSW claim the series in the first two games. This shouldn’t have much bearing on the game, as the Dragons are in another universe to the hapless Eels right now. They should be looking to get early points on the board and demoralise the Eels, which has been the tactic against them this year. They are OK when they keep things tight, but their issue has been just that. Dragons should do this easily.
Let’s get into the daily fantasy picks for the match.
Gun: Jack De Belin ($21.1m)
Jack De Belin finally got his crack at Origin this year and I think it’s safe to say he will be there for the foreseeable future. He truly is built for games like that, as good a defender as you will ever see, a reliable carrier of the ball and with the ball skills to keep the opposition guessing. JDB should be all the better for it, and will want to carry this form into the Dragons, particularly with Frizell missing this week. That will mean more minutes for Jack as well. Can’t see any downside.
Dud: Jarryd Hayne ($12.7m)
People jumped on the Hayne Playne after a single good game in what feels like 5 years, and those who did would have been regretting it. Jarryd Hayne is an irrelevant fantasy player at this point and an even worse actual rugby league player. Forget what he may have done to your respective fantasy teams in the past, he won’t be doing that again, particularly against a Dragons edge defence that is as athletic and ferocious as it gets.
Point of Difference: Ben Hunt ($17.6m)
The Dragons halfback has been the lightning rod for Queensland’s failures by both the media and even ex-teammates and I find it offensive. Ben Hunt was the Maroons’ best in Game I, made one or two bad decisions in Game II but no more than Cameron Munster or Will Chambers or anyone else, yet he is attracting all the blame. I don’t understand how he has been criticised more for one series loss than Mitchell Peace in his career of failure. Nonetheless, he has had a brilliant season and I am expecting him to put on a huge performance against the Eels. He is one of the best fantasy halves in the competition who does not supplement their points by goal kicking, so there is a reliability in his scores. I’m taking Benny Hunt to cross for a try and shut up the muttering Justin Hodges.
Check back soon for picks and analysis for the rest of this weekend’s NRL games. Good luck!