Night 2 of the NRL season delivers our first double header, with some new-look lineups trying to get off to a winning start. The Canberra Raiders host the Cronulla Sharks at GIO stadium, with new Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon missing the game with Covid. Then the Brisbane Broncos welcome the South Sydney Rabbitohs to Suncorp Stadium, with the teams finishing at opposite ends of the ladder in 2021. The weather looks pleasant in Canberra, and it is of course likely to be wet up in Brisbane.


Draftstars has a massive $30,000 contest with $2665 to first place for the Broncos v Rabbitohs game! There are also several other contests including the Mini, Micro, and the High Roller. The Raiders v Sharks pool is $15,000, and the combined “Friday” contest is for $10,000. Don’t forget that there has been a big change to player positions and lineups this year, with only 3 positions and 7 players in each lineup, including a FLEX spot (formerly 6 positions and 9 per lineup). You can read more about that in our article summarising the changes here.




Raiders $1.95 v Sharks $1.85

Broncos $3.75 v Rabbitohs $1.28


Team News


The Raiders have a number of new look players, along with a returning favourite son in the form of Nick Cotric. James Schiller will debut at centre, and Brad Schneider at halfback after new recruit Jamal Fogarty went down with a serious knee injury. Adam Elliot will start on the bench having joined from the Bulldogs. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is back at fullback having missed most of last season with injury.


The Sharks have made a number of changes. Matt Ikuvalu joins from the Roosters, playing on the wing with Ronaldo Mulitalo shifting to the centres. Nicho Hynes and Dale Finucane have moved from Melbourne, with Hynes at halfback and Finucane in his customary lock position. Teig Wilton will start in the second row in the absence of injured Wade Graham, and Matt Moylan gets the five-eight position with Braydon Trindall suspended.


The Broncos have changes galore. The backline is somewhat settled, with Jamayne Isaako and Selwyn Cobbo getting the fullback and wing roles, and Kotoni Staggs fully fit again after a year marred by injury. Billy Walters and Albert Kelly will start in the halves thanks to new recruit Adam Reynolds catching Covid. Keenan Palasia starts at prop with Tom Flegler suspended, and their other big recruit Kurt Capewell slots into the second row. Pat Carrigan is back at lock after his ACL injury in 2021, and Ryan James and Tyrone Roberts are the new faces on the bench.


With Latrell Mitchell suspended for Round 1, Blake Taaffe is the starting fullback. Lachlan Ilias gets the halfback role vacated by Adam Reynolds, and Jaxson Paulo has shifted into the centre hole left by Dane Gagai's move to the Knights. Taane Milne takes the empty right wing spot. Jai Arrow starts in the second row in what will likely be a mid-game shuffle with Jacob Host. New recruits Siliva Havili and Michael Chee-Kam will both act as utilities off the bench, with Havili a hooker/middle forward and Chee-Kam covering the outside backs and anywhere in the forwards. Cameron Murray has shoulder surgery in the off-season, so may need to be eased back into action.




The Raiders and Sharks were both middle of the pack last season, finishing 9th and 10th to both miss the finals on points differential. The Sharks look the team more likely to head in a positive direction this season, but it’s very tough to split them in this one. I have it as a dead heat, so it will come down to which new combinations gel the best on the night, and which star players start the season with a bang. The Rabbitohs are big favourites, but I actually think it could be a lot closer than the odds suggest. With coach Wayne Bennett departed, along with Reynolds and Mitchell not in the spine, it’s a slightly less imposing Rabbitoh's team. The Broncos will wish Reynolds was fit to play, but still have some hope with a lot of young talent and some solid veterans to try to set the tone (Kelly, Capewell, James). 


Value Selections


Love It- Jaxson Paulo & Lachlan Ilias $10,520 & $10,580


The two young Rabbitohs are stepping into big shoes this season, with Paulo taking Dane Gagai's left centre spot, and Ilias taking over at halfback from the departed Adam Reynolds. Both are promising young players, with Paulo already playing 22 games on the wing in the last two years, and Ilias looking solid in his one game last season. Paulo moves to the dangerous left edge for South Sydney where Cody Walker will be orchestrating attacking opportunities. Ilias should get a solid amount of base stats even if Walker takes control of most of the play. Both look too cheap in a game the Rabbitohs are favoured to dominate, and there is a chance that Ilias could also kick the goals (probably Taaffe though).


Love It- Teig Wilton $12,030


Wade Graham hurt his ankle in the last preseason game, opening up another chance for Wilton to play big minutes in the back row. In 8 chances at the position over the last 2 season he’s averaged 80 minutes and 50 points. He’s a quality footballer and is great value at this price, with almost all of those 50 pts/game coming from tackles and run metres. He’ll be on the left edge, which should allow him to target rookie halfback Schneider and potentially rack up some extra attacking stats.


Love It- Nick Cotric $10,530


Cotric spent one year at the Bulldogs and quickly realised he’d made a big mistake. He managed to secure a release to return to the Raiders, where hopefully he can recapture some of his old form. He averaged ~32 in 2021, but was closer to 37 in his 4 seasons at the Raiders. My one concern here is that I think he’ll play on the right, where most of the service will be coming from Schneider on debut. That should be cancelled out by dynamic youngster Matt Timoko creating havoc inside, and he could even end up on the left wing. It’s not as strong of a play as the others mentioned, but this price is only heading up this season, so invest early!


Hate It- Patrick Carrigan $16,620


Carrigan is actually reasonably priced, but I’m wary of him coming off an ACL injury less than 12 months ago (~10). While he was a fantasy stud in 2020 averaging ~60 pts/game, that output dropped off under new coach Kevin Walters in 2021 before his injury. Less minutes and less of an attacking role saw his average fall below 50 before getting injured. With a similar team dynamic and the injury to worry about, I think it’s best to give Carrigan a while before we start chasing his strong fantasy history.


Hate It- Josh Hodgson $16,600


The Raiders' stalwart turns 33 this year, and although he played as well as ever last year and has signed a 2 year deal with the Eels from 2023, I’m sceptical. With a super strong forward pack and Tom Starling lurking on the bench, at some point Hodgson is going to start losing minutes and perhaps even be overtaken by Starling. Although most of his points come from tackling, he does rely on some attacking stats to build his average of ~48, and I’m thinking the Sharks are going to make points hard to come by in this one. Again, he’ll probably give us his usual 40-50 points, but I don’t see much upside at this price.


Who Knows- Brad Schneider & James Schiller $10,200 & $9900


I’ve mentioned both Raiders rookies in this piece already, and I truly know very little about them. Other than his family and teammates, I don’t think anyone had heard of Schiller before teams were named yesterday. He’ll play left centre, he’s apparently fast, and that’s about all we know. He should be low owned so I guess there are worse punts to take. Schneider played one game least year, getting 10 minutes off the bench. The team seems to be comfortable letting him play halfback with Fogarty injured, and he’s ahead of Matt Frawley who is in the reserves. Presumably he’ll do some kicking and get through plenty of defensive work with teams likely to target him. It is also likely he’ll be the goal kicker with Jarrod Croker not selected, which is handy. Both are worth considering, but I truly have no idea what kind of fantasy scoring we’ll get from them.

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