NRL Fantasy

It’s Week 1 of the NRL Finals, and we kick things off on Friday night with the Broncos hosting the Storm in a Qualification Final. These sides met just 8 days ago, however the teams named are poles apart, with mass resting going on last weekend by both teams. With the winner progressing straight to a Preliminary Final, this is the biggest game of the season so far. 

Draftstars has a $15,000 guaranteed contest for the Broncos and Storm, with several other contests available, there’s something for everyone, so get involved and make this game even more exciting!


Team News

I’m not going to go over all the changes from last week’s teams, as it isn’t relevant. Instead, we will delve into the changes since both teams Round 26 games a fortnight ago.

The Broncos have dropped Corey Oates to 18th man, replaced by Jesse Arthars on the wing. Crucially, they get their inspirational halfback and skipper Adam Reynolds back, who replaces Jock Madden. Patrick Carrigan also returns, in another huge boost for the Broncos, with Keena Palasia dropping to the bench. Corey Jensen has been dropped to the reserves.

As for the Storm, they have made just the one change to the 17 that beat the Titans in Round 26, with lock Josh King returning at the expense of Tepai Moeroa. I expect Craig Bellamy to make a couple of late changes to his starting 13, and possibly to the 17 just to keep the Broncos on their toes.

Betting Markets

Brisbane Broncos ($1.61) vs Melbourne Storm ($2.32)

Total O/U – 42.5

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Can the Broncos overcome the hoodoo of the Storm? 14 straight wins over the Broncos for the Storm is impressive to say the least, but how much bearing do those previous results have on this game? It doesn’t seem to have had a huge bearing with the market, with the prices fairly accurate from what I can tell.

As outlined above, the winner of this clash will be just one win away from a Grand Final appearance in season 2023, and crucially also gets a rest next weekend. The loser, conversely, will not only have to play an extra game to get to the Grand Final, they’ll also more than likely move to the Panthers side of the draw (if Panthers beat Warriors), meaning they’ll have to beat the Panthers in a Preliminary Final to get to the big dance. The loser will take on the winner of the Sharks vs Roosters next weekend, meaning a possible path of Sharks and Panthers awaits just to make it to the Grand Final.

This should be a cracking contest, and whilst the hoodoo has to play a small part in my prediction, I believe the Broncos will get the job done here. The returns of Adam Reynolds and Patrick Carrigan will prove vital, and will get them to within a game of the Grand Final.

Love It – Selwyn Cobbo - $13,040

Cobbo has the ability to go large each week, and in my opinion has the highest ceiling in this position for this matchup. Cobbo has three hat-tricks this season, and has 8 tries in his past 7 games. Cobbo managed to score 44 against the Storm earlier this season in a loss, without a try, showing he is capable of putting up a decent score even without a try. I just love the upside here, and his matchup with Xavier Coates should be an absolute beauty.

Love It – Adam Reynolds - $19,460

There are four high-end elite talents in the Half/Hooker slot in this matchup. Three of those players (Munster, Grant, Hughes) will line up for the Storm, whilst just Reynolds is in this category for the Broncos. With this in mind, there is a good chance the three Storm superstars cannibalise each other somewhat in respect to their fantasy scores, whereas Reynolds, along with Reece Walsh, will no doubt be expected to lead from the front for the Broncos. This is why Reynolds was brought to Brisbane, to lead them during the finals, and it’s up to the former Rabbitoh halfback to get the job done here. Expect Reynolds’ kicking game to be on points.

Love It – Payne Haas - $20,640

Haas is the most expensive player in this slate, and given his below average scores recently, you may be asking, why? With just two scores above 55 in his past 7 outings, Haas’ crazy production from the early part of the season seems a distant memory. However, this is the game that Haas has been waiting for to put in an extraordinary effort. I expect this to be tight contest, played through the middle of the field, which leads me to believe Haas will play big minutes, and be heavily involved. Has a high ceiling (3 x 85+ scores) and as good a floor as you could hope for, with a low score of 48.5.

Hate It – Ryan Papenhuyzen - $14,900

Definitely a caveat to this write up. If Papenhuyzen starts at fullback, he immediately becomes a play-on for me in this slate, however for now he is named on the bench. Papenhuyzen came off the bench in his first game back, and whilst I expect him to play more minutes from the bench this week than he did two weeks ago (18), I still don’t think he plays enough minutes to be worth this outlay, which is the 3rd most expensive OB. Another factor with him essentially being the bench utility, is he could have to come on and play several different roles if injuries are a factor. A middle forward, a centre, a five eighth, are all roles that could lie ahead for a Papenhuyzen who is still a long way from his best.

Hate It – Harry Grant - $19,550

This is a hard sell, given how good Harry Grant is, particularly in big games. This is more a positive on the other 4 elite Hooker/Halves in this slate. Grant has been very consistent this season in Draftstars, however has been struggling to have the really big games, with only 6 games over 60 this season (3 of those games were in the first 6 weeks). Of late, he has also struggled, averaging just 49.8 over the past 3 weeks, with his minutes well down. This could have been coach Craig Bellamy keeping him in cotton wool, however with no discount on his price, I won’t be taking the risk and hoping Bellamy pushes Grant back to an 80-minute player overnight.

Who Knows – Reece Walsh - $17,030

Walsh has been in cracking form in his past 3 games (60.2 avg); however, he definitely has a poor game in him when it comes to Draftstars. I have no doubt Craig Bellamy has spent a good part of the week training to shut down the explosive Broncos fullback, and if anyone can ensure the execution of a game plan, it’s Bellamy. At the same time, the speed and agility of Walsh cannot be taught, and no matter what Bellamy has up his sleeve, someone as electric as Walsh can always overcome it. The winner of this game could well come down to who wins this particular battle, and I have absolutely no idea which way it will go.

Draftstars Suggested Lineup



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