Schedule-makers will have been hoping Round 19’s opener in prime-time on Thursday night between two bitter rivals would have realistic implications, but really the only thing at stake between these two teams is the wooden spoon. While both the Eels and Bulldogs have been spirited in recent weeks, which is a huge compliment given the pathetic performances of both their first halves of the season, they are fighting it out with the Cowboys in attempting to avoid the curse of the spoon. Oof, this could be ugly.
Last takes on third-last in a titanic matchup between two of the most disappointing teams of the year. The Eels finished top 4 last year, and even by their standards this has been an embarrassment of a season. They have more than enough quality to at least be in the race for finals footy, and the issues from top to bottom at the Eels seem to be never-ending.
The Bulldogs weren’t much better, selling the competition and its fans on their marquee signings Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods. Well Woods is now in Cronulla and Foran’s career is on its last legs. They sent their best back to the Tigers, they might be forcing out their only rep player in David Klemmer and the ever-reliable Morris twins also appear to be on borrowed time.
The weather in Sydney has been atrocious lately, and there is the realistic possibility that less than 1,000 people make the horrific peak-hour trip out to ANZ for a truly meaningless game of rugby league.
That said, there are still cash prizes to be won playing daily fantasy NRL at PlayON, so let’s get into the picks.
Gun: Rhyse Martin ($10.5m)
You absolutely must pick Rhyse Martin. If you are investing your time and money in PlayON and you are not picking $10.5m, 1553 averaging Rhyse Martin then I cannot help you. You must stop at once if you are not picking Rhyse Martin. Pick Rhyse Martin.
Dud: Tepai Moeroa ($16.1m)
Tepai Moeroa has become something of a popular selection through the bye period, relative to his normal ownership rate, and I’m just not a fan of him in fantasy footy. The guy is uber talented, I really think had it not been for that horrific degenerate shoulder issue he’s had throughout his career he may have played for NSW already, but that explosiveness and ability has never really translated to fantasy NRL and this in particular is a game to avoid him. One of the few places the Bulldogs are strong in is their back rowers. The aforementioned MUST HAVE Rhyse Martin, Adam Elliott and Josh Jackson forms one of the better defensive units in the league, and that doesn’t bode well in a matchup sense for Moeroa. To make matters worse, he attacks on the right side, coming up against still one of the best defensive centres in the game in the form of Josh Morris. Honestly, I think Josh Morris is as good as there’s ever been defensively, at least as long as I’ve been watching footy, right there with Matt Cooper. No Moeroa for me.
Point of Difference: Jarryd Hayne ($13.4m)
Jarryd Hayne is on the lips of every fantasy NRL player this week after an intriguing month of footy that has seen him return to the form that made him the no.1 option in the game a few years ago. Hayne exploded for a monstrous 2010 last week, his third 1500+ score in a row despite playing against strong competition. The Bulldogs are a mess and Hayne avoids the Morris twins as he plays on the left flank, instead facing Kerrod Holland and Reimiss Smith (stop laughing). I’d totally sworn Hayne off earlier this year for performances so uninterested he should have been ashamed of himself, but he’ll be in my team this week and really, he should be in yours too.