Our Round 3 Friday night doubleheader features two evenly matched games in Sydney. We start at 6pm with the Wests Tigers (0-2) hosting the New Zealand Warriors (0-2) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Both teams look like cellar-dwellers again this season, but the chance to open the 2022 account is there in this one. At 8:05pm the South Sydney Rabbitohs (0-2) face the Sydney Roosters (1-1) at Accor Stadium, with the two powerhouses facing plenty of question marks to start the new season. It’s far too early to draw any definitive conclusions, so I’m still expecting this to be a bit of a blockbuster. We’re looking at some wet weather on what will be rainy weekend across Sydney and the NRL.

Draftstars has a $6000 Friday contest with $753 to first place. The single game contests are set at $12,000 and $15,000 respectively. There are also several other contests including the Mini, Micro, and the High Roller. 



Team News

The Tigers have a couple of forced changes, with Jackson Hastings suspended and Kelma Tuilagi out with concussion. Hastings will likely be replaced by youngster Jock Madden, while Luke Garner has come into the second row for Tuilagi. Jacob Liddle is fit and back at hooker, with Jake Simpkin sliding back onto the bench as his utility. James Tamou is also ready to return, named at prop with Alex Twal moving back to the bench.

Just one change for the Warriors. Ash Taylor will miss with his long-term hip issue, with Kodi Nikorima back in the team at halfback. Young gun Reece Walsh looked great last week while giving the Titans a scare, but the rest of the backline is full of question marks about just how potent it can be. The forwards are as strong as ever, so the platform is there if the backs can get things going.

The Rabbitohs are not panicking after their early season woes. The only change is Liam Knight replacing Davvy Moale on the bench. Cameron Murray is named to start at lock but could easily swap spots with Siliva Havili on the bench again. Taane Milne and Jaxson Paulo swapped spots in the second half last week, which will continue with Paulo back on the right wing, and Milne at left centre. The two big question marks are whether the team can adjust to losing Adam Reynolds and Wayne Bennett, with Lachlan Ilias and Jason Demetriou not off to the greatest of starts in their place.

It’s the same 17 again for the Roosters, but with a couple of reshuffles. Like the Rabbitohs, they’ve swapped their right winger and left centre with Paul Momirovski and Billy Smith changing sides. Connor Watson should be okay after a shoulder issue last week, but could start from the bench again with Drew Hutchison charing the hooker role. Angus Crichton has been demoted to the bench after the hot form of Nat Butcher has earned him the starting second-row job. Most of the Roosters team are yet to get going this season in a fantasy or real-life sense, but they still look pretty classy and I wouldn’t be writing them off.


Tigers $2.15 v Warriors $1.71

Rabbitohs $2.45 v Roosters $1.55


In the first game, the Warriors probably are the better team thanks to the rock solid forward pack and the electric talent of Reece Walsh. Still, there’s not that much in it, and with the Tigers at home I’m happy to call that pretty close to a 50/50. Young half Jock Madden is one to keep an eye on after a couple of decent games at the end of last season.

It’s hard to know what to make of the Rabbitohs. Cody Walker has looked lost without his long time halfback, and the replacement in Lachlan Ilias has been a non-factor so far. Latrell Mitchell added some danger last week, but is it enough to get the team back to being one of the hardest to beat in the competition? The Roosters have their own woes with a new halves combo, a couple of new outside backs, and a few health issues in a forward pack that isn’t afraid of putting their bodies on the line. James Tedesco and Trent Robinson are the two crucial variables that have not changed, and we can trust the Roosters to put up a fight as long as that remains the case.

Love It- Reece Walsh $14,930

After missing week 1 with a suspension, the 19 year old jet looked up to speed immediately last week. The defensive line looked stretched every time he got the ball, and he looks equally dangerous running or passing. Add in goal kicking duties and a decent share of the field kicking, and looks like just as good of a scorer as Tedesco or Latrell Mitchell, but at a nice discount. Being favoured to beat the wooden spoon fancies doesn’t hurt this play either.

Love It- Kodi Nikorima $11,100

A less obvious option from the Warriors, Nikorima comes back into he team at halfback after being dropped last week. With Shaun Johnson injured, Nikorima could get a decent portion of the playmaking and kicking duties. We saw this at times in 2021 when he had by far the best fantasy season of his career. It could go wrong if he takes a back seat to Walsh and Harris-Tavita, or just plays as badly as he did in round 1, but I think the price is right to take a punt on Nikorima excelling against a leaky defensive line.

Love It- Nat Butcher $12,660

Butcher dominated last week when coming on in the second half to cover a concussed Sitili Tupouniua. He’s always scored well when given the starting role, with an average in the mid-40s. There is the risk in this one that he reverts back to the bench before kickoff, or that his minutes are limited by Angus Crichton replacing him. However, I expect he’ll play ~65 minutes, with Crichton playing most of his minutes as a middle forward. That gives Butcher great upside against a battling Souths team, especially going at the side of the field with rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias.

Hate It- Angus Crichton $17,190

Crichton is in the doghouse with Trent Robinson, and he’ll likely pay for it with less minutes, and being asked to do the dirty work in the middle of the field. I’d say 40-50 minutes for 40-50 points is a fair expectation, which is nowhere near good enough at this price.

Hate It- Cody Walker $15,680

Walker is a star, but it looks like he’s going to be burning a little less brightly this season as the team tries to find it’s feet again. I’ll still be happy to play him in some easier matchups, but I don’t see him getting the 60+ points needed in this game against a strong Roosters defensive line. Round 6 & 7 against the Bulldogs and Tigers feels like the right time to start considering Walker as a fantasy play again.

Who Knows- Jock Madden $9000

With all four teams on this slate sporting new-look or second-choice halves combinations, this seems to be the position to hunt for some unique gems. My confidence in the Nikorima selection is not especially high, with the likes of Madden and Walker presenting as viable alternatives. Madden scored 39 & 37 points in his two starts last season, which is certainly useful at this price. Those scores were both built on pure base stats, with 28 tackles both times. Given it’s one of the more winnable games the Tigers will get all season, it seems like a good opportunity to take a shot at a minimum priced kid with a totally unknown upside. He shouldn’t let us down too badly either way, so I won’t be hesitating if he is indeed named to replace the suspended Jackson Hastings.

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