It’s time for Round 13…which is actually only half a round. With Origin next week and half the teams on the bye, there is just one game each day for the next four. We start Thursday at 7:50pm with a Queensland rivalry between the Gold Coast Titans (14th) and the North Queensland Cowboys (3rd) at CBUS Super Stadium. Both teams are a little understrength, although the ladder positions are a good indicator that the Cowboys are losing more players to the Origin arena than their struggling cousins.

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The Titans only Origin rep is Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, although they’ve also lost their other star forward David Fifita to a knee injury. Those are the only two changes, with Mo Fotuaika returning from injury at prop and Esan Marsters dropping back to the bench to fill Fifita spot. Brian Kelly comes in at centre where Marsters previously was. The two forwards are a big loss, but otherwise this is close to a full-strength Titans team.

The Cowboys lose all of Valentine Holmes, Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai and Tom Dearden to the Queensland team. Brendan Elliot comes in on the wing, pushing Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to centre. Ben Hampton replaces Dearden in the halves, and Jason Taumololo makes a return at lock after missing only one week with his knee injury. Connelly Lemuelu joins the bench, with Heilum Luki promoted to fill Nanai’s starting spot in the second row. Those are big losses, but again this team still looks reasonably solid.


Titans $2.60 v Cowboys $1.50


Given the Titans are at home, I have this one dead even. The Titans defence is still a bit of a joke, but at least some of their younger players have shown a bit more in attack in the last few weeks. The Cowboys should lose some cohesion, although most of the spine and some exciting young forwards are still there. Perhaps it’s a lean towards the Cowboys, but don’t be scared to try some Titans stacks.


Love It- Heilum Luki $13,520

Luki has been scoring pretty well in 40-50 minute stints off the bench for most of the season, but those 35-40 scores aren’t enough at this price. However, starting in the second row is always a lucrative fantasy role, and Luki has a 4-game sample where he averages ~45 in 65 minutes as a starter. It’s a small sample and includes two tries, but he is that explosive type of player that can keep that up. In comparison, Tom Gilbert has a similar scoring profile at a much bigger price. Sam McIntyre is also interesting, with an injury impacted 4 game sample suggesting he can get close to a 40 average if getting 65 minutes in a depleted forward pack.


Love It- Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow $9000

The young Cowboy missed out on Origin selection after being kept out of the starting side since getting injured in round 4. The utility role he’s been playing means he is now at a bottom price, and last week’s 13 points came on the wing against the competitions best team. We have a 9-game sample at centre, with 5 tries and two games shortened by injury. He could shake out anywhere in the normal 30-35 range for centres that don’t break a huge number of tackles, but wherever he lands it’s a good bet for the price tag and weak matchup.


Love It- Erin Clark $13,760

There’s nothing overly exciting about Clark, but the HH position is pretty tight on this slate. The halfbacks are expensive for moderate scorers in the 18K range, and the five-eights don’t have impressive scoring power either for their price tags (Hampton might be okay). Clark pumps out consistent scores around the 40 mark in his 60-minute stints, with a tiny bit of upside if he jags a try or needs to play extra minutes. This is more of a safe cash play with GPP merit at a tough position.


Hate It- Moeaki Fotuaika $20,290

The big Titans prop returns from injury in a week where the forward pack is undermanned, so it’s fair enough if people want to buy into an increased workload this week. It could well happen, but I don’t feel good about the price tag for a player averaging just 44 this season. Teammate Beau Fermor is in a similar position at the same price. The slate isn’t loaded with good pays so neither is a full fade perhaps, but tread carefully.


Hate It- Reece Robson $22,790

The HH I didn’t mention is the Cowboys hooker, who for the last 7 weeks has averaged 56, making him easily the strongest scorer on the slate. It’s no doubt possible to fit him in with some of the value options listed above, but he’ll need to continue that kind of scoring to make it worthwhile. Like last week, I’m concerned about the presence of Jake Granville on the bench. Robson still got 80 minutes last week, but it’s unlikely to happen every week. He averages 70 minutes with Granville in the team this year, and just 63 minutes last year. Perhaps things have changed enough for that to be irrelevant, but I think there is merit in fading a chalky most expensive player on the slate and hoping for a sub 50 score.


Who Knows- Patrick Herbert $9000

This applies to several Titans backs, but Herbert stands out as someone scoring far worse this season than we’ve seen before. A 34 average in 2021 is down to just 22 this season, which seems bound for some positive regression soon enough. Coming up against Tabuai-Fidow who hasn’t played the position for a while, he could have a good matchup to exploit if his form has improved in 3 weeks out of the team. Corey Thompson and Jamayne Isaako are in similar positions. I’ll also quickly mention Esan Marsters who looks like a bench utility, but I suspect could play a Dylan Walker type middle forward role off the bench.

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