For the second week in a row, it’s an unusual Thursday night matchup with none of the usual suspects. In Round 5 it’s the Newcastle Knights (2-2) hosting the Manly Sea Eagles (2-2) at McDonald Jones Stadium, which smacks of Friday 6pm, but is in the spotlight this week. Both teams find themselves in the middle of the table after some tough matchups and issues with form and/or injury to start the season.

Draftstars has a $15,000 contest with $1132 to first place. There are also several other contests including the Mini, Micro, and the High Roller. 



Team News

No changes for the Knights, other than a reshuffle between Leo Thompson and Jacob Saifiti between prop and the bench. It wouldn’t surprise me for either to start. The key question for the Knights is can they get Kalyn Ponga going after an injury interrupted start to the season? They remain a good defensive team, but need Ponga slicing teams apart and setting up teammates. Particularly on the left edge where Bradman Best and Enari Tuala are struggling to find space early in the season.

Two changes for Manly, including one massive one. Tom Trbojevic is out with a knee injury. Given the stark difference in the teams fortunes with and without him, it’s the biggest blow the team could receive. Young gun Tolutau Koula is also out, with Brad Parker resuming his place at left centre. Reuben Garrick shifts to fullback, with Christian Tuipulotu coming into his spot on the left wing.


Knights $1.80 v Eagles $2.00


With Turbo out and the Knights at home, it’s hard to argue with the bookmakers on this one. Both teams are missing a couple of key contributors but look reasonably well balanced across the field and will be tough to split. You can play your lineups in any direction with balanced making lots of sense, but a big team stack for either side potentially proving more lucrative if there is an unexpected clear winner. 

Love It- Reuben Garrick $13,380

His scoring is yet to reach the heights of last year, and it probably never will. But Garrick has already gotten significantly cheaper and now should get a boost from moving to fullback in the absence of Trbojevic. The chances of the team scoring a lot of points goes down, but they still have every chance in this game and Garrick averages just over 50 in his 5 games at the position. It looks like a very safe value play no matter how this game pans out.


Love It- Chris Randall $14,250

We’ve seen two good scores and two lower scores from Randall so far (38 & 41, not horrible). For a player averaging 47 in his 9 games as a starting hooker, he’s still a little too cheap. I can’t see this game getting too far out of hand, so I expect him to get through another big tackle count and given that we’ve seen no attacking stats yet there is a little bit of extra upside. There are some other good plays at the HH position, but none with Randalls combination of value and reliability, making him a good core player to build a lineup around.


Love It- Brodie Jones $11,300

I was very keen on Jones last week, but his 32 was a little underwhelming. He saw less minutes than I expected with only 52, rotating with Jirah Momoisea off the bench, but I doubt they continue to use two interchanges on that each week. All 4 of his starts at the position last season brought 70+ minutes and 40+ points, so that is my expectation going forward. With Manly’s Andrew Davey a very similar prospect at a similar price, I’m favouring Jones because he has youth on his side, and Davey is coming off a horrific knee injury last year. It could go either way, but we have to make these sort of calls in DFS.


Hate It- Tyson Frizell $19,820

Frizell has been rock solid for the Knights since the start of last season, pumping out 60+ scores on a regular basis. Last week he went off early with a hamstring niggle, and is now looking to play under a slight injury cloud in this one. With such a massive price tag and a long season ahead, I’m not too keen to play the veteran. Even a score of 60 wouldn’t be a killer if you fade him, and anything less won’t get the job done. Seems like a safe decision under the circumstances.


Hate It- Lachlan Croker $14,740

Croker was a surprise breakout player last season when holding down the hooker position all season, but over the last 9 games his average dropped ~5 points/game as a direct result of Karl Lawton backing him up on the bench. We’ve seen the same this season so far with an average of 40 and no ceiling scores to speak of. Given the price is yet to respond much, I don’t see how we can play him at a position with several good options. He’ll need to score well over 50, which he last achieved 15 games ago. No thanks.


Who Knows- Christian Tuipulotu $11,470

This big wingers only career game came in 2020 for the Roosters, when he looked like a Daniel Tupou clone. With the height, speed and aerial ability to cause some headaches on the left wing, I’m pretty interested in him tonight. He could easily get frozen out of the game if the Knights get on top, but we have seen success on that side of the field already this season for Knights opponent. Ronaldo Mulitalo, Siosifa Talakai, Taylan May and Izack Tago have all put up big scores in victories over the Knights. For that reason the unknown quantity might be best used in Eagles stacks exclusively, but I certainly wouldn’t be ignoring him altogether.


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