The Newcastle Knights earned the 2016 Wooden Spoon after winning just one game during the regular season.
It’s no surprise that the betting market have them as favourites to once again take out the unwanted accolade.
The only SuperCoach relevant addition to the Knights’ seventeen is the signing of Jamie Buhrer at lock. Ken Sio and Josh Starling will also debut for their new club but I can’t see either of them influencing our decisions throughout the 2017 SC season.
Rory Kostjasyn has been signed from the North Queensland Cowboys as the Knights’ first choice hooker but will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks through injury. Danny Levi is expected to take his place in the meantime.
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) February 4, 2017
Let’s take a look at their likely seventeen:
- Dane Gagai ($298.4k) will either play in the centres or at fullback but is a viable SC option either way. You probably won’t see Gagai in too many teams though. There are better options with similar/lower price tags to choose from in both the CTW and FB positions (Tuivasa-Sheck, Hayne, Mata’utia, Slater and Chambers just to name a few). Be wary that last season Gagai produced his lowest season average since 2013, averaging 45 PPG.
- Ken Sio ($260.1k) has returned to the NRL after playing two seasons for Hull KR. The Ex-Parramatta winger averaged 56 PPG from 12 appearances during his last NRL season in 2014. It might be difficult to expect Sio to once again produce a 50+ average in an underwhelming team such as the Knights, but if he can achieve such a feat he may earn enough money to justify selection in your SC side. I can’t see his ownership percentage exceeding 1% for round one though.
- Joe Wardle ($219.9k) will play his debut season in the NRL after spending his entire career playing in the UK. It’s hard to predict how the young centre will perform in an unfamiliar environment but he doesn’t come with much risk at his price. He’ll be one of those players we should monitor and consider if his break even drops low enough. Pat Mata’utia is the other contender for the centre position.
- Peter Mata’utia ($230.6k) should play in the centres but is also a possibility to play at fullback. He won’t be on my radar just yet if he plays at centre but we can’t rule him out if he’s given the number one jersey. Mata’utia typically averages between 35 and 45 points which may make his $230k price tag appealing while playing in the fullback position.
- Nathan Ross ($319.8k) gained a cult following after his impressive on-field performance and attitude last season. Will we see an improvement on his 2016 average of 48 PPG? I’m not willing to pay the $320k to find out with so many better options available.
- Brock Lamb ($176.5k) should be Jarrod Mullen’s replacement in the halves and will be on a lot of coaches’ radar. He averaged just 33 points from three games in 2016 but should be looked at in a different light this season. As we saw in the Nines, Lamb is showing plenty of maturity on the field and doesn’t need to score too highly to make a decent profit for your SC team.
- Trent Hodkinson ($257.8k) averaged just 39 PPG in 2016 and has continually dropped his average output since 2014. I wouldn’t consider him for my starting side but he could be worth monitoring if he hits a run of good form. You could potentially make some coin out of him but that’s the best case scenario.
- Daniel Saifiti ($297.5k) averaged 45 PPG from 44 minutes last year and should do the same in 2017. He produces a fairly good PPM figure but he’ll need to step up his minutes/output if he’s to become SuperCoach relevant.
- Danny Levi ($201.3k) should make a small appearance in the starting hooking role after Rory Kostjasyn suffered a pre-season injury which will sideline him for a number of weeks. Levi averaged 30 points and 54 minutes from 18 games in 2016 which is a good indication of how he’ll perform this season. I can’t see any benefit to having him in your starting side, even while he’s playing a starting role.
- Sam Mataora ($314.5k) should make the Knights’ final seventeen but it’s uncertain whether he’ll play a starting role or from the bench. We can leave him off our radar if he comes from the bench but is he worth a punt at $314k if he starts? He usually produces a respectable PPM figure so it’ll all depend on how long he’s out on the field. I’ll be giving him a miss.
- Sione Mata’utia ($308.7k) shouldn’t start the 2017 with POD status due to his attractive price tag and proven SC ability. Sione played a handful of games in the outside backs and didn’t appear in the forward pack until late in the season. His major appeal is his CTW/2RF DPP status which many coaches will be taking full advantage of.
- Mitch Barnett ($450.8k) came into the starting seventeen late in the season and averaged an impressive 67 points from nine games. Many coaches made a bucket load of cash trading him in at the right moment, but this season we have to fork out over $450k for his services. Is he worth the expensive price tag? Well, only time will tell but you’ll be picking him in your starting side with the intension of keeping him until the end. This means you’ll have one less player for the first two big bye rounds.
- Jamie Buhrer ($409.5k) will play his debut season at the Newcastle Knights after being signed from the Manly Sea Eagles. He averaged 61 points from 74 minutes per game in 2016 and I expect him to step up his output (just slightly) this season. It’s not out of the question that Buhrer will become a keeper either. I can see a few coaches taking a gamble on him for their starting team in the hope they can offload him for a small profit later in the season.
- David Bhana ($196.7k)/Tyler Randall ($210.9k) are two of the candidates to fill the bench hooker position while Kostjasyn is out injured. Neither is likely to make enough of a profit to be SuperCoach relevant.
- Micky Paea ($197.9k) played fifteen games for the Knights last season and will be one of the contenders to fill a bench spot. He may have averaged just 30 minutes per game but he was able to maintain a 1.0 PPM figure. I can’t see him being a viable candidate for your SC team if his involvement remains the same.
- Jacob Saifiti ($250.7k) produced a poor PPM figure last season and will only become relevant for our SuperCoach teams if he somehow increases his work rate. His 2016 season average of 38 PPG from 58 minutes is a little underwhelming.
- Josh Starling ($235.6k) has signed a one year deal with the Knights after failing to sign a new contract his former club. I’d assume he’ll play from the bench but wouldn’t be surprised at all if he found himself at starting prop. He won’t be worth monitoring unless he surprises us with an increased level of output.
Did you think the Knights can scrape together more than one win this season?