Tom Trbojevic (top left), Valentine Holmes (bottom left) and James Tedesco are popular SuperCoach picks at fullback.
Tom Trbojevic (top left), Valentine Holmes (bottom left) and James Tedesco are popular SuperCoach picks at fullback.

NRL SuperCoach: Experts debate best fullbacks

FULLBACK is by far the toughest position in KFC SuperCoach 2020 - and probably the toughest position in 11 years of our great game.

The fantasy fairies have taken away a host of dual positions, meaning SuperCoaches have at least five genuine guns to fit into two FLB slots.

It's no exaggeration to say that fullback will make or break your SuperCoach season. Thankfully, our experts have you covered.

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ROB SUTHERLAND

(Valentine Holmes and Ryan Papenhuyzen)

I hate not starting with one of Teddy or Turbo but I cannot ignore the claims of these two players at their price.

 

Valentine Holmes, FLB, Cowboys ($563,700)

As a 22-year-old, Holmes made the move from the wing to fullback at the Sharks and showed his true potential playing 15 times in 2018 and averaging 78.7. Holmes did kick for goals in some of those games but if we remove those points he still averaged 73PPG. Holmes was 23 when he left the NRL to play in the NFL and has spent just one year out of the game. Some people - Tommy Sangster I'm looking at you - are trying to draw a comparison to Jarryd Hayne but Hayne was 26 when he went to the NFL and it was over 2 1/2 years before he returned to the NRL (via an attempt to play rugby sevens for Fiji).

Ryan Papenhuyzen, FLB, Storm ($508,200)

In 2019, Papenhuyzen started five games at fullback for scores of 87, 71, 123, 98 and 85 for an average of 92.8 (he played a mix of halves and fullback in round 18 against the Titans scoring 108 points and I have excluded that game). Now, not even the most optimistic owner expects those numbers to be repeated - but even if Paps goes close he's a must have.

Valentine Holmes during pre-season training with the Cowboys. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Valentine Holmes during pre-season training with the Cowboys. Picture: Alix Sweeney

WILSON SMITH

(Valentine Holmes and Ryan Papenhuyzen)

I have been a big fan of the Teddy/Turbo stack for a number of seasons now, but 2019 showed that investing so heavily in one position can be extremely detrimental to your side if one goes down injured. Having both of these players will mean more than 15 per cent of the salary cap is tied up at fullback, which is a lot when you need 25 guys in your team. Having both these two leaves you weaker at other positions, so I like the value and upside of Val Holmes and Ryan Papenhuyzen, who cost over $420k less.

Valentine Holmes, FLB, Cowboys ($563,700)

I don't really care that Holmes has been out of the game for a year, his low price of $563,700 is an absolute bargain if he can get anywhere near his 2018 form, which saw him average 78.7 when playing at fullback. The Cowboys have lacked strike power in last two seasons, so Holmes should be a central part of the attack in 2020, while he also has guys like Esan Marsters and Kyle Feldt outside him. Not to mention he should be the Cowboys goal kicker, which is an added bonus. Sure he might be a bit rusty initially, but I think it's worth the risk.

Ryan Papenhuyzen, FLB, Storm ($508,200)

Our sample size of Ryan Papenhuyzen in 2019 was pretty small but still enough to know just how talented this kid is, with an average of 95.3 when starting in the No.1 jersey. Now it would be extremely difficult to maintain this kind of average over an entire season, so let's assume he regresses significantly and that average drops from 95 to 70. This would still have him average about the same as Roger-Tuivasa-Sheck did in 2019, and make some decent cash if you did want to sell him at some point, yet he is more than $150k cheaper than RTS in 2020. Paps looked very impressive last year and I think he has the potential to be even better in 2020 if he spends the full season at fullback. Did I mention he also covers the Round 16 bye?

TOM SANGSTER

(James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic)

SuperCoaches don't need to be told how great Teddy and Turbo are so I won't bore you except to point out that it's incredibly rare to have two superstars of SuperCoach at such low ownership (22 per cent for Teddy and 13 per cent for Turbo). Yes, Teddy and Turbo are actually PODs and that's an opportunity too tempting to give up.

James Tedesco is the most expensive player in SuperCoach These are the players Tom Sangster believes are worth every penny when building your KFC SuperCoach NRL team.NRL. Picture: Brett Costello
James Tedesco is the most expensive player in SuperCoach These are the players Tom Sangster believes are worth every penny when building your KFC SuperCoach NRL team.NRL. Picture: Brett Costello

Now let's look at the other candidates because process of elimination is often the best way. Put simply, Holmes has way too many question marks. Will he be the same player after a year out? How has the different training regime in the NFL changed his body, mind-set and motivation? Do the struggling Cowboys have enough attack to support a lofty average? Will he kick goals (this could be the clincher, keep an eye on updates)? And the final question: with so many question marks surrounding Holmes, why take a speculative pick in a position stacked with quality?

Meanwhile, Kalyn Ponga is underpriced due to stint at five-eighth early in the season before relinquishing the kicking duties later in the year. However, he's far from a POD at 22nd most popular. In fact Turbo is more of a POD at 37th most popular, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

Now let's talk Papenhuyzen. Of all the players left out of Sangster's Paradise, he is the man I'm most scared of missing out on. There is no doubt he's a brilliant buy (95 average at fullback and all). However he's far from a POD and second year syndrome has claimed plenty of SuperCoach guns. Fullback is not the position for value buys, it's for GUNS ONLY.



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