It’s never too early to plan for the bye
SuperCoaches. The 2019 season launches on Tuesday, and you will all be free to sign up and start picking your teams.
While the actual NRL won't kick off until March 14th, and the bye rounds are even further away still, NOW is the time to start preparing.
The NRL Round 12 and 16 byes are some of the best times to really surge up the SuperCoach rankings each year, as many teams won't be able to field a full 17 man squad. But preparation will be even more important this season, given the amount of players that will sit out the Round 12 bye in particular.
Some positions are absolutely decimated by the first bye and I don't want to see any SuperCoaches surprised when they can't put a decent team together.
Those planning on starting with Damien Cook, or the James Tedesco/Tom Trbojevic fullback double may want to reconsider after having a look at the bye schedule. In particular SuperCoaches who are planning to have more than four State of Origin players (particularly at key positions) may have to prepare their backups early.
Round 12 will see Panthers host Manly, the Rabbitohs take on Parramatta, Bulldogs up against Canberra and the Queensland derby of Titans vs Cowboys. But it won't be as simple as just stacking your team with players from these teams, as many will be playing State of Origin. Keeping bye coverage in mind when you select your team could make a huge difference to your end of season rankings.
With all that being said, let's take a look at each position to see who your best options are in preparing for the Round 12 bye.
Best options: Josh Hodgson ($592,100), Apisai Koroisau ($528,300)
There really are only 8 or 9 SuperCoach relevant hookers this year, making it one of the positions with the least amount of quality depth. Of these best hookers, only 2 are available for the Round 12 bye.
Damien Cook and Andrew McCullough will be in Origin camp, while the likes of Cameron Smith, Cameron McInnes and Jake Friend will all be on bye.
Given how expensive Damien Cook is in 2019, SuperCoaches may consider saving some money and just starting the season off with Hodgson or Koroisau and not worry about who to start in round 12.
Best options: Adam Reynolds ($488,400), Michael Morgan*($409,200), Mitch Moses ($382,800)
Now halfback really is the most dire position for round 12, with really only ONE great option that I like to cover the bye in Adam Reynolds. Daly Cherry-Evans and Nathan Cleary will be away, while Shaun Johnson, Ben Hunt, Mitch Pearce all on bye.
If Michael Morgan is not selected for the Maroons, he will also be another great option, but he should earn a call up. But otherwise you may have to turn to the likes of Mitch Moses, Ashley Taylor, Aidan Sezer.
You could even go with a cheapie, like whoever starts at halfback for the Warriors or Dylan Brown if he starts for Parramatta.
Best options: Cody Walker ($569,200), A.J. Brimson ($462,200), Michael Morgan*($409,200), Mitch Moses ($382,800)
Again, not a lot of great options for bye round coverage at this position. The most popular 5/8 in SuperCoach, Kalyn Ponga, will be out, alongside fellow guns Gareth Widdop, Cameron Munster, Anthony Milford. Even Matt Moylan, Connor Watson and Luke Keary will all be out!
Cody Walker is looking the best option for bye coverage, but there are probably still better options to start the season at his price and loss of dual position. A.J. Brimson could be another good pick, especially if he starts at fullback, while Michael Morgan (if he misses out on Origin) or Mitch Moses are also decent options. Cheapie Jaemon Salmon could also work if he partners Mitch Moses in the halves at the Eels.
Best options: Martin Taupau ($605,100), Sam Burgess ($560,000), Aidan Tolman ($471,400)
Outside of these Taupau and Burgess, your options at front row are again pretty thin, with Andrew Fifita, Josh Papalii, Ryan James, and Tevita Pangai Jr all out with either Origin or Bye.
Lots of SuperCoaches may be torn between Andrew Fifita and Taupau, and this may just sway them towards the latter (or both!). Aidan Tolman is also a decent option, and played big minutes in 2018 with a PPM of 0.9… not bad for a prop!
Best options: Ben Barba ($467,300), Will Hopoate ($556,000), A.J. Brimson ($462,200), Clint Gutherson ($439,300)
Fullback is probably the last of the positions to be decimated by the Round 12 bye, with the likes of Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster, RTS, and Matt Moylan all unavailable. Anyone thinking of stacking the position with Teddy and Turbo could find themselves without a fullback for the first bye!
Ben Barba is looking the best pick up here and could be a huge trade target heading into the bye round, unless any cheapies pop up as the season gets under way.
Although Will Hopoate may play at centre he is still a high upside option, as are A.J. Brimson and King Gutho. Fortunately there are also a number of potential fullback cheapies that cover the bye, including Albert Hopoate, Corey Allan and Brad Abbey.
Best options: Jason Taumalolo ($657,400), Nathan Brown ($582,000), Rhyse Martin ($634,300), Martin Taupau ($605,100), Sam Burgess($560,000), Viliame Kikau ($570,400), Joseph Tapine ($590,100)
All right, now we'll tackle the positions that have much better depth options for bye coverage. While Jake Trbojevic and Angus Crichton will likely be on Origin duties, there are thankfully still plenty of guns available for Round 12 bye.
If Josh Papalii, Jai Arrow or Ryan James miss out on Origin selection for whatever reason, they could also be great picks as well.
If you start the season off with at least 2 of these 2RF's you'll be reasonably prepared for Round 12. As much as I want to start with Jake Trbojevic, his unavailability for the first bye may have pushed me towards starting Jason Taumalolo and Nathan Brown.
Best options: Blake Fergusson ($611,700), Jarrod Croker ($509,700), Will Hopoate ($556,000), Joseph Leilua ($477,200), Waqa Blake ($550,100), Josh Mansour ($459,200)
There a number of great options here for Round 12 who would also be great pick-ups to start the season off with!
I myself will be starting off with Jarrod Croker and Josh Mansour for round 1 and, barring injury, will have at least 2 CTWs locked and loaded for the Round 12 bye rounds.
Blake Fergusson and Will Hopoate are also pretty reliable options, and even Jordan Rapana might be ready in time for round 12.
With 4 starters and 3 bench spots to fill, CTW could end up being the easiest position to cover the bye rounds if you prepare early, and target cheapies from teams that play during round 12. Albert Hopoate or Reuben Garick could be great options if they start for Manly, as could Maiko Sivo or Bevan French for Parramatta, Jesse Arthurs for Titans or Brad Abbey from the Raiders.