Mitchell Moses, Shaun Johnson and Nathan Cleary are popular halves.
Mitchell Moses, Shaun Johnson and Nathan Cleary are popular halves.

NRL SuperCoach death match: Experts rate best halves

ROB SUTHERLAND

HALFBACK

Mitchell Moses HFB ($579,300)

In my original team I said that if I need $50K to upgrade elsewhere I would happily downgrade Cleary to Moses and I do, so I have. My colleague Tom Sangster rates Cleary the 'best base stat halfback we've ever seen' and while I'm happy to take Tommy on trust I note Moses averaged just 5PPG fewer in base than Cleary last year and just one more game (six for Moses, five for Cleary) under 40PPG while also recording one more game in triple figures (three to Moses and two to Cleary). The Eels have a great draw to start the season and Moses should get off to a fast start.

 

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George Williams HFB|5/8 ($333,800)

UK backs coming to Australia have not had the success of their forward counterparts, but if Williams can replicate his Super League form then he has a very KFC SuperCoach friendly style of game. A willing runner with the ball, Williams made 408 runs in 29 Super League games last season, busting 122 tackles, breaking the line 18 times and offloading 46 times. Add to that 21 try assists and 14 tries and you have a player you really need to watch in the pre-season to see if he can bring that form to Australia because if he does he will be in my team and possibly an early season reserve.

 

Mitchell Moses, Shaun Johnson and Nathan Cleary are popular halves.
Mitchell Moses, Shaun Johnson and Nathan Cleary are popular halves.

 

 

FIVE EIGHTH

Cody Walker 5/8 ($602,800)

Having had Cameron Munster, then Shaun Johnson I'm now trialling Cody Walker in my team to start 2020. Walker may be a 'lucky' SC scorer who often grabs points late in games, but he is also a ridiculously consistent scorer with three consecutive 1400+ seasons and consecutive 60/60 seasons (scoring 60+ in at least 60 per cent of games). Currently in just five per cent of squads Walker is a serious POD and those who had him to start 2019 - when he averaged 80PPG over the first 10 rounds - would attest that he is a POD who can separate you from the pack.

 

Jarome Luai HFB|5/8 ($257,400)

Jimmy Maloney's exit from the Panthers leaves a huge hole and Luai has been nominated by Penrith coach Ivan Cleary as the man to get first shot at making the No. 6 jersey his own. Luai played 13 games for the Panthers in 2019 but the majority were as a bench utility with limited minutes. In the four games he started at five-eighth last year, Luai averaged 46.75 and he is priced at a $180K discount to that average. Has handy dual-position eligibility which works in nicely with my other back up half George Williams giving good flexibility in the halves.

 

 

 

WILSON SMITH

HALFBACK

Mitchell Moses HFB ($579,300)

I have been going back and forth on this pick all pre-season and will probably change a few more times before the season kicks off. I think Nathan Cleary was the best halfback choice in KFC SuperCoach 2019, but I really think Mitch Moses is in for a big 2020 and has a LOT of upside. The main splitting point for me is Cleary has a really tough start to the season, while Eels have a smooth run which could see Moses starting the year off with a bang.

George Williams HFB|5/8 ($333,800)

I don't know much about George Williams other than what I've seen in video, but he passes the eye test and his 2019 Super League stats definitely lend themselves to being very KFC SuperCoach friendly. He should be the starting half for one of the best attacking teams in the NRL and I think he is absolutely worth it at his low price point. Plus he should be a pretty safe reserve option to start the season, which is pretty rare.

 

FIVE-EIGHTH

Cody Walker 5/8 ($602,800)

I was lucky enough to have Cody Walker in one of my Draft leagues last year and he was an absolute gun for me, so I currently plan on sticking with him in 2020.

Walker scored more tries than any other 5/8 in 2019 with 16 and in games where he scored a try he averaged 78 points, but where he did not cross the stripe he averaged just 51, so he's not without risk. Walker is unlikely to play State of Origin again in 2020, so he will cover the all-important Round 12 bye!

Jarome Luai HFB|5/8 ($257,400)

With few other cheapie options in the halves at the moment, I've turned to Jarome Luai, who looks to be starting at five-eighth at Penrith with the departure of James Maloney. He mostly played off the bench in 2019, so his average of 26 is deceptively low, and I think he does have a lot of room to grow and make some money.

 

Jarome Luai starred at the Nines.
Jarome Luai starred at the Nines.

 

 

TOM SANGSTER

HALFBACK

Nathan Cleary HFB ($631,500)

He's put on 4kg of muscle over the off-season and is somehow a POD at 14.1 per cent ownership. That despite averaging a full five points more per game than the next best halfback last season, being universally recognised as the best base stat halfback we've ever seen and an astronomical average when James Maloney isn't in the side. Criminally under-owned.

Jarome Luai HFB|5/8 ($257,400)

No point in repeating what the guys said above except to say this kid is a must-have, with his stocks only increasing following a great Nines. Currently the third most popular player.

 

 

FIVE-EIGHTH

Shaun Johnson HFB|5/8 ($585,500)

Not going to lie, Johnson's performance at the Nines was hardly convincing and I'm second guessing. But the tournament was hardly a priority and he has plenty of improvement. Johnson played most of last season injured and still produced the third highest average of any five-eighth. Juicy price and ownership (16.7 per cent) for arguably the best KFC SuperCoach playmaker of all time.

George Williams HFB|5/8 ($333,800)

English forwards are KFC SuperCoach gold (think John Bateman, Gareth Ellis, James Graham, Sam Burgess). However, English backs are generally KFC SuperCoach poison (think Sam Tomkins, Joe Burgess, Glenn Hall and Kallum Watkins). While Williams' Super League stats mentioned above are no doubt impressive, let's remind people of the standard over in the Old Dart - the Man of Steel (their Dally M) has been won by NRL rejects Rangi Chase, Jackson Hastings and Pat Richards. As such, I don't hold great hope for Williams and hope a genuine cheapie comes along, but the price is to hard to pass up for now.