Monday 1 March 2010

Fox Sports Fantasy NRL 2010 Primer: Hookers

Fox Sports Fantasy NRL 2010 Primer: HOOKERS

READ THIS FIRST! Fantasy NRL Fans - you cannot afford to miss this breakdown of the Bargains & Busts of 2010.
Or via - Updated for Round 1!

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Cameron Smith Storm 11.0 893
+ A Fantasy Machine - Smith has averaged over 35 tackles in each of the last 3 seasons and is involved in 15 or so tries per season (Tries + Try Assists). Those stats alone would make him a Fantasy asset but he also kicks goals for the Storm, kicks in general play (has 40/20 ability) and knows when to run the ball from dummy half. About the only downside to selecting Smith is Melbourne Coach Craig Bellamy's lack of confidence in young halves when an injury hits Cooper Cronk or Brett Finch - because Smith often finds himself at five-eighth as a result. Draft with confidence for 2010.

Robbie Farah Tigers 10.5 1021
+ About the only thing Farah doesn't do is kick for goal. Everything else - he does as well as any other player in the game. Complete footballers don't come around often and Farah is one of those special few. Gets through his work (35 Tackles and 9 runs per game in 2009), adds class (22 Try Assists, 19 LBAs, 11 LBs, 8 Tries & 33 Offloads) and has an astute kicking game (including 3 40/20s). An added bonus with Farah is his tackle busting ability with 71 last year. He's 0.5 cheaper than Smith and a touch more explosive so draft him and use the 0.5 elsewhere. An absolute Fantasy GUN.

Michael Ennis Bulldogs 9.0 670
+ Grew in genuine confidence as 2009 progressed (and one thing Ennis has never been short of is self confidence) and if he inherits the goalkicking from the retired Hazem El Masri for 2010 - Ennis becomes a legitimate Fantasy threat. His defence is suspect (only 26 Tackles including a combined 5 missed/ineffective tackles per game) but he is a livewire on the field. Was solid offensively in 2009 with 7 Tries, 8 Try Assists, 4 LBAs, 5 LBs and 42 Tackle Busts but he barely offloads (9 in 2009) and his kicking game isn't his strong point. Is firmly entrenched at hooker for Canterbury though - and as we said before, he gets the goalkicking and 9.0 is almost a fair price to pay.

Nathan Friend Titans 8.0 845
+ Friend's scouting report is all about defence. Averaged 40 Tackles (but a combined 6 missed/ineffective tackles) per game in 2009 but added some genuine attacking variety to his game. Had 4 Tries, 9 Try Assists, 11 LBAs, 4 LBs & 41 Tackle Busts in 2009 as he became a nifty playmaker close to the line - especially with the inside/short ball to a running forward. Beware the workload he's been under (2,700 tackles the last 3 years) but he keeps getting back up each week - so if you want to save some coin for other positions and get consistency at hooker - Friend at 8.0 is an option.

Issac Luke Rabbitohs 7.5 637
+ If he plays big minutes under John Lang (he shared time with Craig Wing under Jason Taylor) - Luke could have a monster season hooking the South Sydney pack. Has great speed out of dummy half and is a relentless type - although his defensive stats (22 Tackles including 3 missed per game) could do with some improvement, you're buying him for his attack. Had 4 Tries, 8 Try Assists, 12 LBAs, 7 LBs, 55 Tackle Busts, 32 Offloads and averaged 9 runs per game in 2009 - and those numbers could increase with a stronger Bunnies side in 2010. Rarely kicks and can have the odd brain explosion but for 7.5 or less you can't do much better.

Paul Aiton Sharks 7.0 733
+ Would love to think he moved to Cronulla for a full time hooking role but the presence of John Morris suggests Aiton might be spending too much time on the bench in 2010 to really consider. When he plays his motor never stops with 34 Tackles & 8 runs per game mixed with 64 Tackle Busts, 31 Offloads, 4 LBs & 4 Tries - all in around 65 mins per game. If he was the undisputed starter for the Sharks he'd be a savvy pick, but the Morris factor isn't good.

Matt Ballin Sea Eagles 7.0 528
+ Ballin is valuable to the Manly style but not overly helpful to your Fantasy bottom line. He's a glue-guy - someone who does his job each week with a minimum of fuss and always has a solid stat line at the end of the game. But solid won't cut it in Fantasy land with the Smiths, Farahs and Ennis's of the game on other people's squads. 31 Tackles per game but only 3 runs to go with that and despite a career high 9 Try Assists & 9 LBAs - he's not dynamic enough to pick for this price.

Isaac De Gois Knights 7.0 626
+ Starts the season injured - and that's the most important report you need to consider right now. When he returns his form is worth monitoring as he was a Fantasy NRL surprise in 2009 averaging 33 Tackles & 6 Runs with 37 Tackle Busts, 4 Try Assists, 3 LBAs, 4 LBs, 2 Tries and 23 offloads in 65 minutes per game. A good player who when fit - you can consider.

Ian Henderson Warriors 6.5 510
+ Lost his starting spot in 2009 through some indifferent form but the Warriors struggled as a whole last year, so don't discount him bouncing back if the team does. The most glaring stat Henderson had in 2009 was only 49.1 minutes per game and although his averages were okay (28 Tackles/7 Runs), he didn't score a try & only set up 3. His 49 Tackle Busts & 24 Offloads are encouraging but he has to play bigger minutes to be a true Fantasy factor and the opportunity afforded to Aaron Heremia & rookie Alehana Mara while Henderson is out injured in the opening weeks, means you avoid him.

Aaron Payne Cowboys 6.5 495
+ The Cowboys missed him terribly once he was lost to a season ending injury in the second half of 2009. His numbers are solid for only 6.5 - 26 Tackles & 6 Runs per game, 4 Tries, 10 Try Assists, 8 LBAs, 6 LBs, 22 Tackle Busts and significantly only 4 errors & 4 penalties conceded in 16 games. If North Queensland turn things around in 2010 - it'll be in large part to Payne. Should play good minutes too so he's a smokey at hooker.

Matthew Keating Eels 6.5 664
+ Important member of the Parramatta run to the Grand Final but had to share time with Kevin Kingston throughout. Kingston is now at Penrith and Keating looks to have the #9 jumper all to himself and that should mean better Fantasy numbers. Averaged 31 Tackles (barely any missed/ineffective as well) & 5 Runs in 60 minutes per week and helped out offensively with 3 Tries, 4 Try Assists, 5 LBs, 3 LBAs, 24 Tackle Busts & 29 Offloads. Had a 40/20 too in 2009 but isn't a regular kicker with plenty of other options in the Parramatta lineup.

Kevin Kingston Panthers 6.0 343
+ Was a late signing for 2010 but could well begin the season as the undisputed starter in Penrith. His main opposition Masada Iosefa hasn't really thrown down the gauntlet in the pre-season and Kingston's form to end 2009 has him primed for a strong year with the Panthers. Since he shared time with Matt Keating at Parramatta - his numbers don't catch the eye (19 Tackles & 5 Runs per game) but he has plenty of experience starting with the Sharks. If you're going cheap at hooker - consider.

Masada Iosefa Panthers 6.0 174
+ When Cronulla signed Paul Aiton, Iosefa could have been forgiven for thinking he was being handed the keys to the hooking role at Penrith. But now the young rake faces a tough task of unseating Kevin Kingston from the #9 jumper. Iosefa is highly regarded but lacks the polish to be a starter in the NRL and in 38 mins per game last year he averaged 20 Tackles & 5 Runs - hardly numbers to get excited about. Pass.

Nathan Fien Dragons 6.0 399
+ Fien could add some attacking spark to the St.George-Illawarra ruck now that Dean Young has moved to lock. Having said that Fien is a better halfback than a hooker and the shift to #9 never worked with the Warriors. Will be looked at to create try-scoring opportunities for the Dragons this year but may have to share time with Luke Priddis and Young.

Andrew McCullough Broncos 5.5 476
+ Last year's bargain at halfback is a bargain at hooker this time around. At 5.5 and with no real competition for the Brisbane hooking job - McCullough will not want for game time. But he is a developing footballer and his numbers (30 Tackles, 3 Missed, 4 Runs per game) are okay... for 5.5. Needs to find some offence in 2010 to be a viable Fantasy option as just 2 Tries, 4 LBs, 1 LBA and zero Try Assists isn't good enough from a Fantasy hooker.

Travis Waddell Raiders 5.5 145
+ Could have been an intriguing pick had Canberra coach David Furner not decided to play captain Alan Tongue at hooker to start 2010. While that move makes little sense - it makes Waddell pretty much a non-factor in Fantasy land. Minimal minutes from a player who offered zero offence (1 Try & 1 LB in 10 Games) and suspect defence (21 Tackles & 5 Missed/Ineffective Tackles per game) in a similar role last season, makes Waddell a pointless pick at this stage.

James Aubusson Roosters 5.5 104
+ Before his injury that ended his 2009 season, Aubusson was very ordinary. 24 Tackles per game and one 40/20 was about all he had to show in the stat column over 9 games. He is however capable of more but the potential move of Ben Jones to hooker curtails a lot of that potential in 2010.

Stuart Flanagan Sharks 5.0 62
+ Was in Canberra coach David Furner's doghouse from the pre-season in 2009 and never got out of it. Injury and a perceived lack of size counted against his first grade chances and he was released by Furner after just one season. The Sharks pounced on the talented attacking hooker and he could put serious pressure on Aiton and Morris for the Cronulla hooking role if given a sniff by coach Ricky Stuart.

Glen Buttriss Raiders 4.5 349
+ A revelation in the Raiders 2008 playoff charge and relative non-factor in 2009. Just didn't look like the same player who gave great service from dummy half two years ago and may be squeezed out of the first grade squad if Alan Tongue remains at hooker entering the season. Pass.

Terence Seu Seu Sea Eagles 4.0 237
+ Could force his way onto the bench with a good pre-season but Seu Seu has never been a Fantasy factor and shouldn't be on your squad entering 2010.

Ryan Hinchcliffe Storm 4.0 382
+ Had a great game in the World Club Challenge but looks set for no more than 25-30 minutes per game in 2010 unless coach Craig Bellamy decides Cameron Smith is the a long term replacement for Cooper Cronk - should the latter's groin injury not come good anytime soon. Might be a fill in option for the first few weeks but not when Cronk returns.

Beau Falloon Rabbitohs 4.0 53
+ Looked like the backup to Issac Luke before the pre-season but young Jason Clark beat him out for a spot on the bench for the Charity Shield and as a result - Falloon now looks NSW Cup bound.

Luke Priddis Dragons 4.0 136
+ Decided to go around for one more year at the Dragons, despite an underwhelming debut season with the club in 2009. Played just 10 games and saw dramatic statistical falls in nearly every category - the most painful was his zero tallies in Tries, Try Assists, LBs & LBAs, while getting only 37 minutes per game. If he turns back the clock he'd be a bargain at 4.0 - but do you think he can?

PJ Marsh Broncos 3.5 50
+ Injury ruled him out of the All Stars game and probably from contention for a spot in the Broncos squad for Round 1. Even if he gets fit again - Andrew McCullough is coach Ivan Henjak's first choice at hooker.

George Ndaira Knights 3.5 90
+ May be a savvy early round pick for some managers who know Isaac De Gois is injured. A handy player who might give you some room to spend big at other positions. But should be discarded once De Gois is back.

Clint Amos Cowboys 3.5 36
+ Missed most of 2009 with injury and hasn't really come up on the Fantasy radar at all since 2007. Only an option if Aaron Payne gets hurt and coach Neil Henry chooses Amos over Anthony Watts long term.

Lancen Juodo Sharks 3.0 29
+ Logjam at hooker for the Sharks - but Juodo is more of a utility anyway. Still you know better than to pick a player unlikely to play much first grade.

Ian Lacey Titans 3.0 0
+ If Lacey was the backup to Nathan Friend at the Titans you might (in desperation) consider drafting him. But Riley Brown is, so move on.

James Woolford Storm 2.0 0
+ Can't see him playing any first grade in 2010. Melbourne are well served at hooker.

Anthony Mitchell Eels 2.0 0
+ Might get the odd game in the top grade if Matt Keating gets hurt. But it won't be significant minutes even if he does.


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