Tom Sangster’s 2021 KFC SuperCoach NRL team
Yes it's still 2020 but that hasn't stopped Tom Sangster from diving into the 2021 KFC SuperCoach NRL Team Picker page and selecting the first iteration of his team for next year.
Check out Tom's team below and as soon as the picker is ready for release (we're just sorting through a couple of bugs) we will provide a link here so you can start selecting your own team.
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Damien Cook $621,000
The top point scorer at hooker from 2020 is an obvious choice once again given question marks over Cameron Smith (will he play and how will Harry Grant affect his minutes and role?). Grant becomes a serious option if Smith retires.
Jacob Liddle $247,200
The exit of Harry Grant leaves an 80-minute hole at the Tigers and I expect Liddle to get first crack ahead of Jake Simpkin, although it's a tight race. Liddle starts at cheapie price after easing back from a succession of injuries and playing second fiddle to Grant, but expect a huge increase from an average of 30 minutes if he scores the starting hooker role.
Payne Haas $668,600
The best prop in KFC SuperCoach by a massive six points per game last year. Forward rotation - and therefore minutes - are always a lottery under a new coach and both Walters and Haas have hinted at reduced game time in 2021. Even so, I'm backing Haas to lead the position yet again.
Christian Welch $453,500
As Rob Sutherland writes here Welch is essentially priced at a 10-point discount on what we can expect this season due to easing back from an ACL injury last year. Perfect sleeper who may even become a keeper.
Stefano Utoikamanu $186,800
Big Stefano was frozen out by the Eels last year after signing a big-money deal with the Tigers and he therefore starts essentially at bottom dollar. One of the most-hyped prop prospects in the NRL and a key buy for the Tigers, Utoikamanu is all but assured to improve on his average game time of just eight minutes, even with James Tamou and Joe Ofahengaue also joining the middle rotation at the Tigers.
Zac Saddler $173,700
The Sea Eagles are thin on edge forwards following the exit of Joel Thompson and while Jack Gosiewski and recruit Andrew Davey seem to have the inner running, Saddler isn't too far away. As Rob writes, Saddler was very impressive for the Indigenous All-Stars, playing 60 minutes mostly on an edge running for 83 metres, with 34 tackles (none missed), two offloads and two tackle busts.
Cameron McInnes $676,200
McInnes produced the highest average of any 2RF in the game last year (76) with a massive 66 of those points coming in pure base stats. Translation, McInnes was safe as houses last year and shapes up similarly this year, although keep an eye on how new coach Anthony Griffin decides to use him (KFC SuperCoaches much prefer he play back row than hooker given he makes more runs).
Jason Taumalolo $641,700
Needs no explanation. Hasn't averaged below 70 in four years.
Tino Faasuamaleaui $504,900
Only classed as a 2RF last year, Big Tino has picked up dual status after playing mostly as a middle at the Storm. With a strong Origin campaign under his belt and now at the Titans, Fa'asuamaleaui has a huge chance to improve on his average of 46 minutes per game. Of course, he won't have Cameron Smith putting him through holes, but he can make up for that with extra game time.
Jordan Riki $277,500
The departure of David Fifita leaves a huge hole on the Broncos' right edge. And with coach Kevin Walters indicating he'd prefer to play Tevita Pangai Jnr in the middle, young gun Riki appears next in line. While eased in minutes-wise last year, Riki looked good to the eye and even banged out an 80-minute game in the final round for 54 points in pure base. Hopefully this will be a regular occurrence in 2021.
Haumole Olakau'atu $245,000
Impressive to the eye in five games last year, Olakau'atu is also looking to lock down one of the abovementioned edge roles at Manly. Played limited minutes last year and therefore starts cheap, but showed a glimpses of his immense talent with 91 in 75 minutes against the Warriors in Round 13, which included eight tackle busts and a linebreak.
Joe Stimson $228,900
A hyped recruit at the Bulldogs last year, Stimson managed just two games before a season-ending shoulder injury. With a discount applied for reduced matches, he starts in cheapie range - a full $115,000 less than his starting price last season. The Bulldogs have more back rowers than I've had Zinger Boxes, but Stimson is a serious buy if he can score a starting edge role - a position he locked in last year before injury struck.
Nathan Cleary $734,300
Almost 15 points per game better than the next best halfback in KFC SuperCoach last year and worth every cent of his premium price.
Sam Walker $173,700
Kyle Flanagan's exit means the halfback spot at the Roosters is up for grabs and star teenager Walker is right in the mix alongside Lachlan Lam, Drew Hutchison and Adam Keighran. The son of former NRL player Ben Walker and nephew of Shane and Chris, the 18-year-old has been compared to a young Kalyn Ponga on pure talent.
Cameron Munster $620,100
With Shaun Johnson injured and AJ Brimson no longer available in the halves, the gun five-eighth spot at Sangster's Paradise is a two-horse race between Cameron Munster and Cody Walker. I've gone with Munster because he's slightly cheaper, but Walker clearly has claims too.
Matt Moylan $253,600
Retains dual status after playing three games at fullback, four at five-eighth and one off the bench. What's more, he starts in the borderline cheapie range after a horror, injury-affected season. Obviously there is huge risk with this buy, but he's averaged 60s in KFC SuperCoach in the past and is hard to ignore at the price.
Jake Averillo $331,200
Spent huge chunks of 2020 on the bench for a season average of 37.38. However, a clearer indication of his KFC SuperCoach talent is the fact he averaged 65.4 in 80-minute games. Too good to ride the pine for much longer, he's a potential keeper at a mid-range price with dual position flexibility to boot.
Dylan Walker $306,300
Starts cheap after a horror year on and off the field. Priced on a season average of 34.57, but that includes two injury-affected games of 11 and three minutes. Manly's huge list of five-eighths should free up Walker to play solely in his best position at centre, but obviously keep an eye on ongoing off-field dramas.
David Fusitua $251,800
Coming off a tough year where he scored just one try in seven games before leaving the Warriors' bubble and returning to New Zealand for family reasons. He averaged a lowly 28 KFC SuperCoach points and therefore starts cheap, but expect significant improvement based on past output - he averaged 37, 48, 42 and 51 in the previous four seasons.
Christian Tuipolotu $237,400
Potential gun at a cheapie price. Tuipolotu has the high energy, high-workrate game required of a KFC SuperCoach CTW, making 23 runs on debut at the Roosters last year. Now at the Sea Eagles, Tuipolotu will place pressure on Jorge Taufua for a wing spot.
Bailey Simonsson $205,000
Nick Cotric's wing spot is open at the Raiders and Simonsson is the frontrunner. His price is based on a season average of 23.1, which is way down due to stints on the bench. His 2019 average of 38 is a more accurate representation of what we can expect.
Tesi Niu $232,500
The retirement of Darius Boyd leaves Niu as frontrunner for the Broncos fullback spot. What's more, "the best Brisbane fullback prospect since Darren Lockyer" is underpriced after playing half his games off the bench in his debut season.
Joseph Suaalii $173,700
More of a placeholder as I don't see Suaalii starting the season at the Roosters. You've probably heard his name by now, but if not, this youngster has probably attracted more coverage than any other schoolboy player in the game's history. Handy dual status but I don't see him debuting until later in the year.
James Tedesco $843,100
Most points of any player last year despite missing three games. I'm more than willing to pay the premium.
Tom Trbojevic $593,500
The KFC SuperCoach great starts at his lowest price in half a decade. His worth is so low due to 2/7 injury-affected games. Of course, injury is a huge risk yet again, but he's very hard to ignore at the price.
Originally published as Tom Sangster's 2021 KFC SuperCoach NRL team