Round 24 in the NRL continues on Friday, again with a clear bad-game into good-game flavour to the scheduling. At 6pm the Penrith Panthers (1st) welcome the New Zealand Warriors (13th) to BlueBet stadium for what looks like one of the biggest mismatches of the season. Then at 7:55pm the Melbourne Storm (4th) host the Sydney Roosters (6th) at AAMI Park in what is a crucial game for the final shape of the top 8. The Roosters can still miss the finals, while the Storm can essentially seal their top 4 spot with a win.

Draftstars has a $5000 contest with $679 to first place. The single game contests are set at $10,000 and $15,000 respectively. There are also several other contests including the Mini and the Micro.

Team News

The Panthers have two big changes, with Jahrome Luai and James Fisher-Harris both returning from multi-week absences. Luai slots back into the halves, with Jaeman Salmon dropping out of the team. Fisher-Harris pushes Matt Eisenhuth back to the bench and J’Maine Hopgood out of the team.

There are three changes for the Warriors. Chanel Harris-Tavita comes back into the halves, replacing Daejern Asi for what could be one of his last ever NRL games. Jack Murchie is out, with Josh Curran promoted from the bench into his second-row spot, and Dunamis Lui joining the interchange. Euan Aitken is also out of the back-row, with Eliesa Katoa promoted to start and Ben Murdoch-Masila coming onto the bench. Despite an okay forward pack, this is close to the worst team in the NRL right now.

There is just one change for the Storm. Felise Kaufusi is back, pushing Tui Kamikamica back to the bench and Tyran Wishart out of the team. That likely puts pro of a squeeze on minutes for forwards given that it’s now a 4-forward bench, with the entire prop rotation likely to suffer.

The Roosters have three changes, with all of Paul Momirovski, Sio Taukeaiho and Lindsay Collins returning. Momirovski forces Drew Hutchinson out of the centres, and both Hutch and Oliver Gildart lose their place in the 17 entirely. Both returning props join the bench, with Terrell May the other casualty from the team. With no utility on the bench Connor Watson likely sees a bit of a role change, now covering Sam Verrills if he needs a rest. Overall it’s another minutes squeeze which likely hurts all the big boys a little bit, although Taukeaiho and Collins may be eased back on reduced minutes.

Betting Odds

Panthers $1.03 v Warriors $13.00

Storm $1.55 v Roosters $2.45

Bet now at Ladbrokes!


$13 is a massive price, but it’s also hard to argue with. The Panthers backs have been popular plays lately (and all season) but haven’t necessarily been hitting. There won’t be many better opportunities than this for some massive ceiling scores. I will argue a list more with the odds in the second game. Yes, Melbourne have found some form, but I’d argue this Roosters outfit is close to the best team they’ve played in the last month. The Roosters have also found some form, without playing many strong teams either. I’m not sure what to make of it but I have it very close to a 50/50 game, potentially meaning neither team will be putting up massive point totals.

Love It - Izack Tago $13,560

I won’t write up Brian To’o again, but I do still really like him at his price. For a little more we can get Tago, because I’ve now accepted that the Panthers’ left edge is just that much more potent (where To’o played last year). Tago has a handful of 60+ scores this season, which would be plenty on this slate. Taylan May and Stephen Crichton are also good plays, with Dylan Edwards the only Panthers back expensive enough to make me think twice.


Love It - Harry Grant $20,730

The HH position is far from clear, with some tough matchups, players returning from injury, and not much pricing value. Grant stands out as a player that is almost matchup proof and is a clearly superior play to Koroisau and O’Sullivan who are both priced just above him. The other Storm and Roosters players are fine, but it’s hard to predict a ceiling game from any of them. If you think Jarome Luai is going to come straight back in a tear the Warriors to shreds then he is cheap enough, and Wade Egan has some upside if he ends up with 70+ minutes.


Love It - Felise Kaufusi $11,690

There is a lot of cheap Roosters FWDs, and some Storm options that have been posting massive scores, but all of them are at risk of falling victim to the minutes squeeze. Some of them will still pan out as good plays, but I’m also happy to take the risk on Kaufusi in his first game for 3 weeks. He’s averaged 48 in his last 8, and even in a tougher matchup I think this price is just low enough for him to pay it off. Again, there is a lot of viable forwards, so spread it around if playing multiple line-ups.


Hate It - James Fisher-Harris $17,910

Unlike Kaufusi, I’m not keen to give JHF a run in his first game after a short break. While he was only suspended, I just don’t think this situation is good for him. He often gets less run-in blowout games, and the team has Eisenhuth, Kenny and Leniu on the bench who can all play extra time in the middle. Even if he does play his full role, he rarely cracks the 70 barrier which is very likely to be necessary to pay off this price tag. Wait for a price drop and/or bigger game.


Hate It - Shaun Johnson $15,540

I’ll use SJ to highlight my disdain for all Warriors backs on this slate. Although I’m worried about the price of Koroisau and O’Sullivan, there is no doubt that they could put up a true ceiling score if things break right. Johnson has almost no chance of doing that and is priced about as he can be at this advanced stage of his career. He should see very few attacking stats, especially because his whole backline is either ordinary or out-of-sorts. There are some Warriors forwards worth considering, but for the most part they’re easy to ignore.


Who Knows - Eliesa Katoa $10,550

Another interesting cheap forward is Katoa, who has shown a little more form of late and now gets a big boost from starting in the second row. That means at least double his usual minutes allotment, with an average close to 45 in his previous starting games (large sample size also). Of course the tough matchup is the concern here, where he could get 70 minutes but fail to pay off his price as he barely sees any ball and misses a bunch of tackles. I’m not sure how it will go, but I think the potential value is so good that some exposure is necessary.


Draftstars Suggested Team

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