2023 requires more planning than any previous year, so balance is key. Check out Wilson Smith’s KFC SuperCoach squad for the upcoming season.
Footy is back and with a new team, bye every week and far fewer players in two positions, SuperCoach is going to be a bit of a minefield this year!
Because of this, the game will be a little harder in 2023, so balance is key. You don’t want too many players from the same teams, and you don’t want to load up too many players with a bunch of early byes.
2023 will arguably require more planning than any season in recent years.
With that in mind, I’ve been trying to get a decent mix of key position weapons, mid-rangers, and cheapies, while also trying to fill my forward pack with some of the few guys who have retained or won a doubles position.
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Brandon Smith (HOK) $478,200
After Brandon Smith joined the Roosters from Melbourne to chase a first hook role, Brandon Smith is set to experience a massive spike in minutes in 2023. And while I still don’t think he’ll play 80 minutes as a hooker, I do think he’s in for more playing time. Smith played mostly off the bench in 2022, averaging 45 points per game and 49 minutes. After switching to the Chooks, I can easily see his minutes rising to over 60. In 2021, Smith started 20 games at Nutte, averaging 60.15 minutes and 68.55 points. If he can play such minutes again, there is money to be made here.
Josh Hodgson (HOK) $385,600
I’ve been tossing and turning between Hodgson and Mitch Kenny and while I think both are decent, I’m leaning towards the new Eels number 9 right now. The main argument against him is that he’s coming back from an ACL injury, but I’m not overly concerned. When he came back in 2018 he was very impressive. He played a game off the bench before going straight back into an 80-minute role, averaging 63 points per game. Of course it was a long time ago and he’s not the same player anymore, but I think the Eels’ attack is better than the Raiders’ and there are opportunities here. Not to mention his only real competitor for minutes is Mitch Rein, who isn’t exactly a hitter.
Luke Thompson (FRF/2RF) $512,400
The Englishman started the 2022 season strongly before missing a ton of playing time through injury. His minutes were everywhere last year, but when he played decent minutes, he scored well. And with the loss of players like Paul Vaughan, Jack Hetherington, Ava Seumanufagai and Josh Jackson, there are still plenty of minutes left.
Tom Gilbert (FRF/2RF) $494,100
As one of the Dolphins’ key new recruits, I expect Gilbert to see a huge increase in minutes in 2023, especially if he can land the #13 starting jersey. While the Dolphins recruited several big-name forwards, many of them are aging and won’t play big minutes. Gilbert has shown he is capable of playing big minutes in 2022 by playing over 60 minutes in nine games.
Daniel Saifiti (FRF) $484,000 & Jack Hetherington (FRF/2RF) $266,600
With David Klemmer gone, the Knights will be leaning much more towards the Saifiti brothers, both of whom could see an uptick within minutes. Likewise, new recruit Jack Hetherington is likely to see some decent minutes off the bench when Saifiti needs a break.
Tohu Harris (FRF/2RF) $640,500
While not the best 2RF option, it is one of the most consistent. If you take out a game when he was put off an injury, he was averaging 62.6 points per game and 71.9 minutes. And after earning a FRF doubles position I think he is one of the most valuable forwards to start the season and will probably be a goalkeeper all year long unless he gets injured.
Adam Elliott (2RF) $564,500
Adam Elliott was a bit of a POD in 2022, but the numbers looked good, averaging 54 points and 52 minutes per game. However, if you only look at the games he started with suspension, his average jumps to 62.8 points and 56.1 minutes per game. Following his move to the Knights, he is in line to earn the No. 13 jersey and could be an offensive weapon.
Luke Garner (2RF) $435,100
The man set to replace Viliame Kikau in the Premiers could be a must as he’s more consistent than Kikau and now joins one of the NRL’s best attacking teams. When he started for the Tigers in 2022 (not counting games affected by injuries), he played 80 minutes in each game and averaged 56.9 points. I think there’s a huge opportunity here if he earns the spot.
Eliesa Katoa (2RF) $411,100
Has struggled to gain a foothold with the Warriors in recent years but has shown great promise in his rookie year of 2020, averaging 57 points per game. Join one of the top attacking teams in the NRL now and likely secure a spot.
J’maine Hopgood (2RF) $298,800
They’re not leaving the Premiers (especially after losing Viliame Kikau) unless to get a spot and hopefully after the move to Parramatta he’ll move straight to their right-hand side to take on Isaiah Papali’i (especially with Ryan Matterson) to replace suspended). When he starts, he’s a must.
Josh Schuster (2RF & 5/8) $241,200
Struggled massively in 2022 but is now switching to the starting five eighth role for Manly and coming in at a bargain price. lock him up
Nathan Cleary (HFB) $841,100 & Nicho Hynes (HFB – $902,600
I’m not playing dumb guys with the halfback spot in 2023 and have decided that’s the position I’m going to spend big money on this year. And why not just capture the best two halves of the game? They might cost a pretty penny, but I think they’re worth it.
Matt Burton $594,500
While I’d love to have Cameron Munster, I don’t quite have the money. That’s not to talk about Burton, however, who looked solid on a pretty average Bulldogs team in 2022 (with a 57-point average). The Bulldogs are looking a lot better in 2023 and could even be a contender for the Finals and I expect Burton to go to another level.
Isaiya Katoa (HFB & 5/8) $216,100
Pretty much a placeholder at the moment but if he somehow earns a spot he will be a must.
Murray Taulagi (CTW) $578,700
I originally had Brian To’o in this slot, but Rob has put me on Taualgi for now…the Cowboys are off to a great start to the year and while he relies on tries to get the big points, there’s a solid one there Basis also for a winger. I’m still not fixated on him, but for someone I’d never really considered before, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Izaac Thompson (CTW) $336,700
He only got two games in 2022 before suffering a hamstring injury, and I think he’s done enough to earn a 2022 Souths starting spot. He scored 73 and 55 goals in his two games last year and I think there are points up for grabs in 2023 playing in the Rabbitohs backline.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (CTW & FLB) $327,100
Moving from the Raiders back to the Warriors in 2023, and while it remains to be seen where he will play, I think it’s highly likely that he’ll make the starting team, either as a full-back or as a center. He has struggled with injuries in recent seasons at Canberra but has previously been solid for SuperCoach purposes, averaging 57 in 2019 and 54 in 2020.
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Hayze Perham (CTW) $370,900
While I originally expected him to snag a starting spot at center, Cameron Ciraldo has announced that he will get his first crack in the Bulldogs’ No. 1 jersey in 2023. That’s enough to capture my imagination, and while it’s not cheap, it’s still very tempting at the price point.
Dunster Dunster (CTW) $234,800, Valynce Te Whare (CTW) $200,800 & Alofiana Khan-Pereira (CTW) $200,800
Placeholders for now, but Khan-Pereira will start the season for the Titans with Brian Kelly suspended while Te Whare has a shot at a starting spot with the Dolphins. Haze Dunster is returning from a fairly serious knee injury but could be in line for a spot.
James Tedesco (FLB) $836,300
Similar to the halfback, I’m spending a lot on the fullback this year and starting the season with Teddy and Turbo. Teddy is the most consistent full-back in SuperCoach and is worth starting with. Many shun him at the start of the year due to the perception that he’s a slow starter, but despite a first-round score of 32 last year, his five-round average early last year was actually 59.2. He has a Round 4 bye this year so keep that in mind.
Tom Trbojevic (FLB) $577,700
Turbo is once again a risky starting option, he has an incredible price if he manages to stay fit. Latrell Mitchell was incredible on his return from the US last year and perhaps Turbo can get back to his best form in 2023. Hopefully… my poor Sea Eagles need him!
Originally published as KFC SuperCoach NRL 2023: Draft Expert Wilson Smith’s Team Revealed
https://www.codesports.com.au/nrl/supercoach-news/kfc-supercoach-nrl-2023-draft-expert-wilson-smiths-team-revealed/news-story/468cc251ffe088dfe919e675b75c8696?nk=c5183f7b216532e5870ee459fea22da8-1674676089 KFC SuperCoach NRL 2023: Draft expert Wilson Smith’s team revealed