NRL Round 4 Preview

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NRL Round 4 is here and Sam McPhee is back to share who he is (and isn’t) targeting in this week’s games. Read on, then be sure to pick your lineups.

North Queensland Cowboys vs Penrith Panthers


Coen Hess ($19.3m)

The bullocking back rower has forced his way into the start side ahead of Ethan Lowe and now is set to start outside Johnathan Thurston for the remainder of the season. This can only be good for Coen Hess. He was unstoppable last week with two tries, three line breaks and 10 tackle busts. Pick him with confidence.


Jason Taumalolo ($23m)

The Dally M winner has quietly had a very disappointing start to the season, playing less minutes and getting through less work than last year. Not what fantasy sports players wanted to see. For that price tag you can get Tom Trbojevic, Shaun Johnson or Angus Crichton. Avoid until he shows 2017 form.

Point of Difference

Dylan Edwards ($19m)

The most unheralded Panther but maybe the most important, Dylan Edwards will take up a greater role with the long-term injury to star halfback Nathan Cleary. His base stats are fantastic and he should see more playmaking duties with Cleary gone. A great POD every week.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury Bulldogs


Angus Crichton ($21.7m)

The kid is a flat out superstar and surely will feature in Origin this year and for the next 10. How on earth did South Sydney let him walk to their arch rivals. Angus Crichton is the ideal fantasy sports player, great base stats so the risk is low and huge potential for attacking points. He’s in the Jake Trbojevic class, pick him with confidence every week.


Greg Inglis ($18.2m)

The great Greg Inglis has gotten off to a slow start by his standards despite being on the Rabbitohs’ killer left edge. He is certainly past his prime and seems to always be carrying injury. His days as a fantasy lock have come and gone, spend the money elsewhere.

Point of Difference:

Moses Mbye ($15.5m)

Moses Mbye seems to have found his position, producing two starring performances in the opening three weeks. He has electric pace and the ball skills to make a lethal fullback, and he is the driving force for the Bulldogs attack right now. For that price he is well worth a look.

Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm


Billy Slater ($19.7m)

It would be boring to write Cameron Smith here every week so I won’t do it, just know he is a week in week out gun. Billy Slater I think could be in for a strong showing against a Cronulla team that papered over the cracks with its win over a hapless Parramatta last week. I don’t like the edge defence of the Sharks, and Slater could have a field day running off Cameron Munster and Brodie Croft as the third or fourth receiver.


Paul Gallen ($22.6m)

Paul Gallen has been my dud before and he just isn’t showing enough to change that, particularly with the exorbitant price. This team very clearly belongs to Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham now, with the former playing 65 minutes last week. I just can’t see the value in throwing out $23m on a has been.

Sydney Roosters vs New Zealand Warriors


James Tedesco ($20.1m)

James Tedesco had an absolute stinker last week despite the Roosters dismantling Newcastle, and in doing so burning plenty of fantasy sport players including yours truly. Tedesco has been a yoyo so far this season, and I am picking that to continue. Warriors are due a Warriors performance, things have been going much too well, and I can see the Roosters being much too clinical for the 3-0 Kiwis. He isn’t massively expensive either.


Shaun Johnson ($22m)

You won’t find a bigger fan of Shaun Johnson than me, but as I said above, the Warriors are due a bad game and the Roosters defend sideline to sideline so well that I can’t see Johnson having much of an impact. They will look to shutdown the star halfback and make the rest of the team beat them, which I cannot see them doing against a team that knows how to defend and will punish wasted chances. SJ is due a down game, as are the Warriors. Avoid them all.

Point of Difference:

Jake Friend ($19.3m)

You could make the argument Jake Friend has been the best hooker in the opening three rounders of the competition. He has given the Roosters drive through the middle and given Cooper Cronk quick ball when demanded. Against a monster Warriors pack, Friend would wreak havoc up the middle. Worth a look.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Canberra Raiders


Tom Trbojevic ($23m)

I expect this to be a points-a-thon and I expect Manly to bounce back with a 30+ point effort after last week’s total humiliation against South Sydney. That means plenty of points for Tom Trbojevic, who somehow is yet to cross the line so far this season. That will not continue.


Honestly I can’t really see too many duds for this game, as I expect it to be high scoring. Elliot Whitehead is expensive at $18.5 but he has been fantastic this season. Big Marty Taupau at $20.8 would probably be the one to avoid, high price for a player in a game that I expect to have the ball thrown around. But really can’t identify one real dud here.

Point of Difference:

Jack Wighton ($16.7m)

If Manly’s fullback is the gun of the game, his opposite number deserves to be the POD. Manly’s defence was ropable last week and I expect Canberra to look to attack them in a similar way, getting the ball wide through Jack Wighton and creating the extra man.

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Newcastle Knights


Jack De Belin ($20.2m)

The easy choice here would be to go with Gareth Widdop after his disgusting one try, five try assist performance last weekend, but I’m going to zig while others zag. Jack De Belin is a proven fantasy player who has made a confusing start to the season, but I expect him to bounce back with a 70 minute performance and a lot of work.


Mitchell Pearce ($18.3m)

I think Newcastle could be in for a long day against the undefeated Dragons and that won’t help Mitchell Pearce get any major points. Connor Watson is out, which will increase his influence, but I can’t see the Knights giving St George many headaches.

Point of Difference:

Tyson Frizell ($15.9)

Tyson Frizell has done exactly what Dragons fans would have hoped so far this season – upped his work rate, found a strong combination with new teammate Ben Hunt and is an attacking threat running off the diminutive halfback. Frizell at that price is worth a look every week, particularly with the Dragons at home to a team no one trusts.

Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans


Anthony Milford ($20.5m)

Anthony Milford has made a slow and somewhat disappointing start to the season, but boy does he love to play at Suncorp. Coming up against a mess of a Titans team, Milford should be heavily involved and have a hand in a bunch of Broncos tries. He is a safe pick this week and due a monster game.


Bryce Cartwright ($10.4m)

This is one of the saddest stories in rugby league. Bryce Cartwright quite literally had the rugby league world at his feet until a series of injuries and off field incidents derailed a hugely promising career. He left the Panthers and Sydney for a fresh start on the Gold Coast and it has just not worked out. He has now been benched and it looks like his career is tearing at the seams. Let’s all hope he gets back to his best soon, but for fantasy sports stay far away for now.

Point of Difference:

Ryan James ($18.9m)

Ryan James has been shifted from second row back into the front row, a position he historically scores best playing. James will be the Titans key defender through the middle and is always a threat for a barge over try near the line. He will have plenty of work to do against a veteran Broncos pack.

Good luck!

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