It seems to be a three horse race when it comes to selecting a gun halfback for 2017.
Obviously we can take a risk on a less consistent option or search for a potential cash cow, but if you’re looking to fork out the big bucks for a halfback then there are just three names that jump to mind.
I’ve given this a lot of thought and it seems there’s just one question we need to ask ourselves – Who would you rather have as your starting halfback for 2017 – Johnathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson or Nathan Cleary?
All three of them should be without DPP status and they’ll come with a similar price tag unless Cleary receives a discount for missed games.
They’ll also all have the goal kicking duties and will be surrounded by a team worthy of a top four finish. Assuming we can’t fit two of these high performers under the cap, I’m going to base my decision from their opening draws.
2017 SuperCoach High Averaging Halfback Options
I’ve listed four of the five halfbacks that cracked the 60 point average for 2016 (I previewed Cody Walker (66.5 PPG) in last week’s article). The prices listed are estimates based on the player’s 2016 average and relevant discounts.
- Johnathan Thurston (HFB, $454k) may be losing his DPP status in 2017 but he will still be an appealing halfback option. The Cowboys rely on JT to maintain good field while providing attacking options on the left side of the field. We all know how good it feels to see him put through a few forced drop-outs at six points a pop followed by a try/linebreak assist for another 20 points. This bloke can crank out 26 points in five minutes and do it multiple times per game. He comes with one obvious negative though and that’s his bye period availability. Cross your fingers that the Cowboys’ byes land on the Origin weeks otherwise you’ll be using a trade to put your salary cap to better use, not to mention another trade to get him back in your side for the run home. In case you haven’t noticed by now I pick JT in my halves every season. Hi everyone. My name is Cowboy and I’m a self-confessed Johnathan Thurston addict.
- Shaun Johnson (HFB, $451k) had one of his best SuperCoach seasons in 2016 and seemed unworthy of his ‘Rollercoaster’ title. Prior to 2016, SJ was one of those players that could score 20 or 120 and it was a really nerve racking time to have him in your SC side. This year however, it was a rare occurrence for SJ to score below 50. I didn’t trade him in until the Origin period came around and I can tell you it was getting under my skin watching him pump out seven scores above 70 in the opening eleven rounds. Did you notice his worst score through the entire period was 69? Unbelievable! The only negative for Johnson in 2017 is how his involvement will be affected if Foran partners him in the halves. Like JT, SJ should be considered as one of your gun starters for next year, unless of course you’re willing to hope and pray that he has a poor game in the opening rounds.
- Mitchell Pearce (HFB, $430k) missed the opening eight rounds of 2016 after taking the term ‘animal lover’ to a new level. Once the Lassie and Snoopy memes on Facebook died down he returned to the halves in round 9 and boy did he impress! His most impressive stat of the season was his ability to produce scores over 70 points on seven of his twelve appearances! That’s very surprising considered his name usually isn’t thrown around on a regular basis in the SuperCoach world. Like Johnson, it’s believed that Pearce will have a new halves partner (Luke Keary) in 2017 which may affect his attacking output. I’d be very careful if you’re thinking of taking a huge risk by having Pearce as your starting halfback next season. He may be more appealing if he’s granted some sort of discount on his starting price, especially if he can repeat his 2016 performance.
- Nathan Cleary (HFB, $430k (max)) had a very impressive debut season in 2016. He came into the Panthers’ side in round 13 and played at halfback for the remainder of the season. Astonishingly, he fell short of 40 SC points on just two occasions and even cracked the tonne three times. So what do we expect from Cleary for the 2017 season? It’s scary to think what this young kid is capable of with some confidence and a preseason under his belt. I have to be honest here; I’m struggling to find a negative attribute with Cleary and can’t think of any viable reason why we shouldn’t give him a crack in our starting sides. The deciding factor will be his starting price and whether he receives a discount due to the number of games played. His appeal may be boosted if the Panthers have a favourable bye period although a handful of tough opponents in the opening rounds could be also justification to looks elsewhere.
— CoachKing Cowboy (@CKings_Cowboy) October 24, 2016
Recent SuperCoach relevant signings
- Kevin Proctor has signed a four year contract with the Gold Coast Titans
- Tautau Moga has signed a two year deal with the Brisbane Broncos. He’ll be great SuperCoach value If he makes the starting side
- Paul Vaughan has signed a three year deal with the St George Dragons
- Jamal Idris will return to the NRL after signing a one year deal with the West Tigers for 2017
- Mitch Cornish has signed with the Sydney Roosters as a back-up for Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary in the halves
- Mitchell Dodds will return to the Brisbane Broncos on a one year deal
- Benji Marshall has officially signed with the Brisbane Broncos on a one year deal
JT, SJ or Cleary – Who would you pick as your gun halfback?
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