Round 23 continues on Friday night, following the typical Friday night formula of a low-key game followed by a potential game of the round. It starts at 6pm when the North Queensland Cowboys (2nd) welcome the New Zealand Warriors (13th) to Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Then the main act gets underway at 7:55pm, with the Brisbane Broncos (6th) playing host to the Melbourne Storm (4th) in another Queensland fixture at Suncorp Stadium. The top 4 is still the goal for 3 of these 4 teams, so at least one of them is going to be losing ground to the other 5 or so teams that can still finish in the 2-4 positions.

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Team News

There’s only one change for the Cowboys, who are basically back to full-strength now. Kyle Feldt is a luxury inclusion, coming back onto the wing in place of Hamiso Taubuai-Fidow. The Hammer drops back to bench utility, with Jamayne Tanoa-Brown the one dropping out of the 17. There is also a switch with Jordan McLean reclaiming the starting prop role after a week back from injury. Coen Hess is the one that drops to the bench.

The Warriors are unchanged after an impressive win last week. It’s hard to argue that the current 17 is the best blend of talent, current form and future potential. Youngsters like Kosi, Vailea and Asi are justifying their spots, and the forward pack seems to be settled with everything finding form after a slew of injuries. They’re still bad, but the selections are justified.

The Broncos are also unchanged! Fringe players like Te Maire Martin, Delouise Hoeter and Ryan James have been good in their opportunities, and the young studs (Cobbo, Mam) should be automatic selections for the next decade after the growth they’ve shown this season. It’s still a work in progress, but this team has to be respected coming into finals time.

And finally, a massive two changes for the Storm. Their backline reshuffles continue, with Young Tonumaipea coming in for Marion Seve. Seve has been strong this season, so that has to be considered a downgrade. Jahrome Hughes returns at halfback, forcing Cooper Johns out of the 17. Tom Eisenhuth and Josh King are again named to start at 2RF/lock, but it’s likely they’ll do a swap with Kamikamica and Brandon Smith before kick-off as they have lately.

Betting Odds

Cowboys $1.12 v Warriors $6.50 

Broncos $2.60 v Storm $1.50

Bet now at Ladbrokes!


Cowboys by a wide margin is very easy to agree with, given the northern team are rounding back into their best shape and the Warriors are anything but consistent. I’m also fine with the odds for the second game, with the Broncos levelling out as a solid team and the Storm striving to get back to the top after a big injury toll in the middle part of the season. They’re still a couple of players short, but they are getting there and will have some strong DFS options for us. 

Love It - Murray Taulagi $10,320

Taulagi was on fire before and during the Origin campaign, averaging nearly 40 on the season and just shy of 50 over an 8-game stretch before round 16. He then ran into a small injury issue and has averaged 20 in the 4 games since his return. The price has responded dramatically, but the big scores will be back soon enough. Matchups don’t come much easier than a Warriors team on the road, so the opportunity is there to smash this price tag to bits by scoring multiple tries on a susceptible right edge.


Love It - Wayde Egan $12,700

Egan is in a similar boat to Taulagi. He started the season nicely, carrying on from a 47 average in 2021 through the first 9 rounds. He then had some injury issues, and on his return ran into some more job-sharing, a game and a bit at 5/8, and another injury. His average has dropped a full 10 points as a result, but his current projection sits somewhere in the middle. With Lussick on the bench I expect 60-65 minutes and 40+ points, but there is enough ceiling there for this to be an excellent value on a solid scorer.


Love It - Payne Haas $21,200

There’s a number of interesting value plays in the Broncos FWDs (Capewell, James, Hetherington), but I can’t ignore the massive ceiling of Haas after starting to look back to his best in the last month. He carried a shoulder issue through the middle part of the season and became a ~55 scorer with reduced minutes but is now back to a 60+ guy with a bigger ceiling than almost any forward. There are some strong premium plays at HH, but I still think Haas stands out as the best way to spend up on this slate.


Hate It - Jeremiah Nanai $18,420

This is scary, because the very reason I’m fading Nanai could in fact be a strength this season. I can’t remember seeing a forward average almost one try per game across a season before (16 in 18), including 3 doubles and a hat-trick. That just cannot be sustainable, or at least we’ve never seen it before, even from someone like David Fifita (17 in 23 last year). The kid is good, and the matchup is great, but even with all those tries his 46 average this season is underwhelming for this price tag, and I can’t see a way to justify playing him.


Hate It - Selwyn Cobbo $16,590

Cobbo is a similar story, although his try scoring shenanigans are a little more normal given he plays on the wing. If he was playing against the Warriors, I might be more keen, but again his price tag just simply does not equate to his scoring profile (although I admit he’s averaged 50 since round 7). I don’t feel as strongly about this as the Nanai fade, but the tougher matchup is enough to have me looking elsewhere.


Who Knows - Brandon Smith & Tui Kamikamica

The Storm have been shuffling their forward pack around a lot this season, and again they went for a different mix last week. Eisenhuth and King were demoted to the bench, with Smith and Kamikamica promoted and playing bigger roles than usual, with their fantasy scores responding in kind. It’ll be hard to play them on the multi-game slate now knowing if they’ll be promoted to start again, but I suspect they will be and will be strong plays once again even at their elevated price tags.

Draftstars Suggested Team

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