Rookies of the Year

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 30, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

Historically, there have been only three things you can reasonably ask of rookies in fantasy: regular first grade appearances, a plus-40 season average and a season price value increase of over 100k (please note this will be my only reference to the vastly inferior non-draft form of fantasy in this column. For those still playing in such a fundamentally stupid format- C’mon, enough now. What are you doing? Grow up.) Most, but by no means all seasons spit out at least one greenhorn who emerges into a fine fantasy starter straight out of the gates, but this is to be savoured, not relied upon. Keeping this in mind, here is my 2013 top 5:

5. Peta Hiku

Games played: 8

Average: 51.62

Price increase: $125,500

Hiku fails in the first criterion, playing only eight games for Manly between rounds 6 and 24 (he has not been named for this weekend’s huge match against Melbourne-BTW why is this game being played on Saturday night? Is Wests vs. Souths really a bigger drawcard?) Hiku was an all or nothing proposition in those limited opportunities, splitting his eight games evenly between boom and bust with four games over 50 and four below (three of those under forty). Eight games is not enough to really get full value out of a rookie bought as a money spinner, hence his lowly position on this list, and Hiku must be considered a fantasy disappointment given he was considered one of the boom rookie fantasy propositions by experts in season previews. As it turns out, he was used almost exclusively as injury cover for Brett Stewart, with a solitary match deputising for Jamie Lyon (who was deputising for Kieran Foran, who was deputising for DCE) in round 18 the only exception.

For 2014 and beyond however there’s a whole lot of upside for Hiku. Outside of Lyon (still unsigned???) and Brett Stewart, that Manly backline isn’t especially fearsome. Jorge Taufua is of course emerging as a super young player, even figuring into Origin calculations, while Steve Matai remains really Steve Matai-ish. So on second thoughts it’s not bad at all. I guess what I'm saying then is that the Wolfman sucks. Just plain sucks. Word that a pay cut is the gloriously-bearded but talent-starved winger’s only hope of staying in Brookvale beyond this year indicates there is hope for Hiku to cement a starting job in 2014. Regardless, there should be opportunities for Hiku next year. Astoundingly (but not at all surprising), Stewart hasn’t played a full season’s worth of football since 2008, and since 2009 has played in only 50% of Manly’s games. It’s safe to assume that regardless of the David Williams situation Hiku will get his chance to shine.

4. Matt Moylan

Games Played: 13

Average: 43.23

Price increase: $85,400

Moylan burst onto the fantasy scene with a flourish, putting on a Supercoach 71 first up, a mark he is yet to surpass. Moylan had four scores over fifty in the 12 games he played after that debut, before the NRL’s punitive second-tier salary cap restrictions and the unexpected return of Lachlan Coote forced Moylan out for the year.

His fantasy output swiftly tapered off after that debut however and, tellingly, he had his worst Supercoach haul in that round 22 swansong, a meagre 22 in the Cowboys’ demolition of the PENRITH FOOTBALL CLUB:

Yeah, you heard right Gould- we, the fans, refuse to be bound by the ludicrously misguided and insulting decisions of marketing teams- irredeemable cretins who have probably never set foot inside one of our glorious Rugby League Cathedrals, much less devoted the incalculable quantities of time, money and bleeding, gut-wrenching emotion that us fans put in year after year. Honestly, when has dropping the geographical associations of a club ever been a successful strategy? Is a kid growing up in Auckland, or Rockhampton, or Maroubra, suddenly going to think “oh great, this is a club whose heartland knows no borders, thus appealing to ME on a personal level. And what’s that you say? They’ve got Wallace AND Soward??!?!? Sign me up Gould, you toadfaced idiot, I’m a Panther now!” Are chocolate soldier diehards living in Glenmore Park, or Windsor, or Kingswood, going to see this as anything but an absolute fuck you to them and everything they stand for? What were you thinking Gould?

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Back to fantasy. Moylan’s value in 2014 remains TBA. Certainly the arrival of the aforementioned halves pairing points to Lachlan Coote remaining at fullback for PENRITH (all jokes aside, I’d really like to see Soward and Wallace thrive- it was only the start of last season that both were in the mix for Origin, so they are not without ability). Josh Mansour and particularly David Simmons have been going great guns on the flanks (the latter having a career season in fantasy), so backline positions will not be hard to come by. Neither Dean Whare nor Lewis Brown have mortgages on PENRITH’s centre spots, so there is definite room for promotion for Simmons, Mansour and Moylan. The team sheets for week one 2014 may tell us more.

3. Tohu Harris

Games played: 21

Average: 52.29

Price increase: $165,500

There are many ways to measure Craig Bellamy’s coaching genius- indeed, you’d have a harder time coming up with a set of evaluating criteria that didn’t reveal him as the best coach in the game- and fantasy is as good a measure as any. One only needs to look at how little fantasy impact the majority of Bellamy’s Melbourne squad have had outside of the big names. It is a played out cliché, but not one without some truth that Melbourne sides have been perennially made up of spare parts, built around one of the best engines ever assembled in their once-in-a-generation spine combination.

That does the many fine players to run out for the Storm each week a disservice, but certainly from a fantasy standpoint there is little to get excited about. Jesse Bromwich has turned into a useful option and Ryan Hoffman, though down on last year’s form, is solid. Both remain nothing more than safe, handy fantasy propositions however and don’t do much to excite from that perspective. Tohu Harris is of similar ilk but more than holds his own and will likely be one of the first twenty second rowers off the board next year. A great debut season.

2. Anthony Milford

Games played: 16

Average: 60.50

Price increase: $261,400

Quickly emerging as a future star, and has been a fantasy phenomenon. Milford has posted three Supercoach centuries so far and has been on fire of late. Of his ten plus-50 scores, seven have come from his last seven starts. His name seems to have disappeared from the news of late, so I am not really sure where his contract debacle ended up. I’m assuming though that the Broncos remain his most likely destination (provided Canberra don’t force him to sit out the year as he has claimed to be willing to do). Milford and Barba together would make for a very entertaining team, and I would certainly expect the former to finish the season a top ten fantasy half.

1. George Burgess

Games played: 20

Average: 66.45

Price increase: $201,800

The well-endowed Englishman has been a hit with the ladies and a hit with South Sydney fans, in both cases for obvious reasons. Burgess is the fantasy rookie of the year by some distance, even outshining big brother Sam at stages. Looking at the respective fantasy stats of the Burgess brothers, there doesn’t seem to be much cannibalisation of workload (and therefore fantasy points) at this stage and indeed most of George’s biggest hauls have come with Sam lining up alongside him. Older brother Luke and twin brother Thomas have had limited minutes in their appearances in the cardinal and myrtle so far this season, but for now there is nothing to suggest that George won’t kick on and reach even bigger heights. For the moment I’d grade him a late second-early third rounder for next year’s draft.  


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