Every NRL team’s starting 17 for 2020
The NRL pre-season is heating up and there's stacks of positions up for grabs as coaches look to cement their best 17s
More importantly, for many, will be the implications that the months leading into the 2020 opener will have on SuperCoach teams.
We've analysed every squad to predict the likely starting sides for every club in Round 1.
To help ease the stress of team planning with price reveals on the horizon, we've also assessed the players that can launch into SuperCoach relevance with a strong pre-season showing.
We've left out the majority of rookie players who could force their way into sides, with all the bargain base players listed in our bumper edition of Cheapie Bible.
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Contentious positions: Melbourne's line up is fairly well locked in, but don't be surprised to see the club in the market for a centre before Round 1 having lost both Will Chambers and Curtis Scott.
SuperCoach opportunity: A settled line up provides limited chance for a SuperCoach prospect to emerge. Marion Seve can assure himself an 80 minute role at centre - up from 68 minutes last season - but he'll likely be awkwardly priced at around $400k.
Contentious positions: The expected departure of Latrell Mitchell opens up a centre role that will likely fall to Billy Smith, with Matt Ikuvalu another contender for the spot.
SuperCoach opportunity: Unfortunately Kyle Flanagan averaged 74 minutes at Cronulla last season for a healthy return of 50 points per game, ruling him out as a potential buy. The man with the most to gain from a bumper pre-season is Angus Crichton who obviously has the talent to work his way into an 80-minute role. He averaged 69 minutes last season for an underwhelming 57 points, and was benched in preference of Boyd Cordner and Mitch Aubusson when the trio were all fit. Cordner continues to strike injury, Aubusson is ageing and Crichton is in his prime. The former Rabbitoh will be underpriced if he can return to maximum game time.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Contentious positions: Adam Doueihi looks to be the frontrunner for the No.1 jumper following a strong end to the season. With a stacked backline, this would likely push Alex Johnston to the bench or out of the squad entirely. The retirements of Sam Burgess and John Sutton have opened up slots on both edges, with Jaydn Su'A and Ethan Lowe tipped to fill the gaps.
SuperCoach opportunity: Braidon Burns was a breakout SuperCoach star last season before succumbing to hamstring injuries early on in two games throughout the year restricting his average minutes (68) and points (49). As a result Burns will likely be underpriced with impressive base stats to boot, but can he get through the pre-season with a full bill of health? Hardly exciting purchases, but if Lowe and Su'A can up their minutes from 57 and 41 respectively to 80 on the edge they'll come into calculations as potential mid-rangers.
Contentious positions: Ricky Stuart has a serious dilemma in fitting recruit Curtis Scott into a quality backline. If he wants Scott and Leilua starting, the former Storm centre may need to shift to the wing, rather harshly pushing Bailey Simonsson to the bench.
SuperCoach opportunity: Recruit George Williams has a SuperCoach friendly game with tackle-breaking ability and general high attacking output. Provided he can break the curse of failed English backs - think Sam Tomkins and Zak Hardaker - he could figure in 2020. It's not so much pre-season training where he'll need to impress prospective owners, it's the trials. If he stamps his authority in gameplay he could be a Round 1 purchase with serious upside.
Contentious positions: Parramatta's 17 looks fairly well locked and loaded. Brad Takairangi's versatility can allow Brad Arthur to run with a monster bench if that's his preference.
SuperCoach opportunity: It's hard to see too much changing in terms of SuperCoach credentials throughout the pre-season. Injury saw Nathan Brown play 10 less minutes per game in 2019 compared to his past two seasons. While there's obvious improvement and potential there, it appears highly unlikely there'll be any additional minutes to attract in the stacked forward pack.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
14.Cade Cust/Lachlan Croker
Contentious positions: Cade Cust and Lachlan Croker are believed to be vying for Manase Fainu's hooking role should he be unavailable for Round 1 (Fainu is currently stood down by the NRL pending a legal matter). Jorge Taufua faces competition from Albert Hopoate on the wing, but is likely to get the early season nod with the young gun returning from an ACL injury.
SuperCoach opportunity: Fainu's availability will have huge implications on SuperCoach sides to begin the year. Despite starting 19 games from the bench last season he still averaged a healthy 49 minutes, with huge attacking upside he's a must if cleared to play. If not, Cust would be overpriced, while Croker would come into consideration after averaging 31 minutes last season.
16.Toby Rudolf/Scott Sorensen
Contentious positions: Based on Bronson Xerri staying at the club, Ronaldo Mulitalo would likely have to bide his time in reserve grade. Jack Williams heads a wide open group of youngsters vying for Paul Gallen's vacant starting role at lock. Scott Sorensen is yet to re-sign with the club but would likely push Toby Rudolf from the bench if he does remain in the Shire.
SuperCoach opportunity: Williams (37 minutes) and Braden Hamlin-Uele (36 minutes) will become mid-range options if starting at lock, while fellow contender Billy Magoulias (28 minutes, one game) looks a quality cheapie option regardless.
13.Tevita Pangai Jnr
Contentious positions: Outside of recruit Brodie Croft, the make-up of the spine remains up for grabs. Jamayne Isaako is likely to start at fullback, Anthony Milford at five-eighth and Jake Turpin at hooker ahead of veteran Andrew McCullough.
SuperCoach opportunity: In three games at fullback in 2018 Isaako averaged 61 points, scoring just one try in the process. If he can prove himself as the club's No.1 with a strong pre-season he'll be a major option at CTW coming off a disappointing 45 point average in 2019. Furthermore, Isaako is expected to be the primary goal-kicker for the season opener. However, Kotoni Staggs and the returning Jordan Kahu (likely QLD Cup) will be hard at work leading into March to steal the role which would have major SuperCoach implications.
Contentious positions: There's positions up for grabs across the 17 at the Tigers, with the back-row posing the majority of questions. Recruit Luciano Leilua and Luke Garner are the likely edge starters, while Matt Eisenhuth is favoured to start at lock. The likes of Chris Lawrence, Michael Chee-Kam and Elijah Taylor are all in contention for starting spots. Boom rookie Tommy Talau is a strong chance at playing his second NRL game, but he'll face stiff competition from Paul Momirovski and Robert Jennings throughout the pre-season. An ACL injury to Jacob Liddle has Josh Reynolds in line to start at hooker, while Moses Mbye is another option for Michael Maguire.
SuperCoach opportunity: SuperCoaches will be praying Leilua thrives in his new environment with a monster pre-season. Averaging 47 points in 41 minutes last season, the former Dragon has massive upside should he lock down an 80-minute role at Concord.
Contentious positions: Despite several off-season transfers, Penrith's roster looks fairly settled for 2020.
SuperCoach opportunity: The pre-season is likely to have minimal SuperCoach impact on Penrith players, with Jarome Luai a cheapie lock with the five-eighth role seemingly secured. Api Koroisau could become relevant if he wins the sole hooking role, but the highly regarded Mitch Kenny is likely to give the rake a reprieve off the bench.
6.Phoenix Crossland/Mason Lino
Contentious positions: Phoenix Crossland appears to have won over new coach Adam O'Brien and is the frontrunner to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves. The arrival of Gehamat Shibasaki from Brisbane adds vital depth and competition for backline spots.
SuperCoach opportunity: Outside of obvious cheapies in Crossland and Bradman Best, there's not too much pre-season relevance for the Knights. The big issue will be whether or not Kalyn Ponga can retain kicking duties with Mason Lino likely playing NSW Cup. Without the duties, it's hard to see the superstar fullback slotting into a stacked SuperCoach fullback field early in the year.
Contentious positions: The 1-13 looks fairly settled, with Sione Katoa a chance at elevating himself to a starting role with a strong pre-season. The make-up of the bench is up for debate, with recruits Katoa and Joe Stimson expecting to lock down spots.
SuperCoach opportunity: Slim pickings at the Dogs, Corey Harawira-Naera cementing an 80 minute role would be relevant but he seems unlikely to gain dual 2RF/CTW status again in 2020.
New Zealand Warriors
10.Leeson Ah Mau
Contentious positions: Promising rookie Chanel Harris-Tavita has a huge chance to stake his claim for a starting role at the Warriors. Kodi Nikorima is the frontrunner to partner Blake Green in the halves, but he's also an option to shift to hooker for the departed Issac Luke. Rakes Karl Lawton and Nathaniel Roache are both coming off surgery, meaning Mr. Versatile Jazz Tevaga is in line to start at nine, with Penrith recruit Wayde Egan another option. Patrick Herbert will vie for a centre role with Gerard Beale who returns from a gruesome knee cap injury.
SuperCoach opportunity: Harris-Tavita will be the side's primary goal-kicker if he starts. Having spent time off the bench at stages last season, the livewire playmaker averaged just 63 minutes per game. He could become a sneaky mid-range POD if the opportunity arises. Tevaga was a SuperCoach beast when increasing his minutes for the back end of last season. If he can secure an extended role, upping his 55 minutes in 2019, he'd be a serious option to begin the year.
North Queensland Cowboys
14.Ben Hampton/Reece Robson***
Contentious positions: The six, nine and 14 are up for grabs. Scott Drinkwater played halfback for the 2015 Australian Schoolboys side with Nathan Cleary at five-eighth, so a move to the halves won't be an issue. He faces stiff competition from Jake Clifford for the role. It'll take a pre-season of observation to determine if highly regarded recruit Reece Robson is up to the task of starting ahead of veteran Jake Granville. Tom Opacic, Murray Taulagi, Justin O'Neill and Ben Hampton are all serious contenders for backline spots.
SuperCoach opportunity: With Jordan Kahu leaving the club and Clifford likely in QLD Cup, the kicking duties are up for grabs. Valentine Holmes, Kyle Feldt and Esan Marsters are all contenders to take up the tee. Holmes will start at a reduced price due to his time out of the game, so if he's the primary goal-kicker he'll be an upside option for POD hunters. How he returns from his NFL venture will also have a major influence on his buy credentials. Robson would only become relevant with an 80 minute role having averaged 48 minutes in his seven games last season.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
5.Tristan Sailor/Jason Saab
Contentious positions: Jack de Belin would start at lock if available, if not it's likely Blake Lawrie and the returning Trent Merrin would compete for the role. Zac Lomax is expected to get first crack at fullback, while Paul McGregor has a pleasing yet difficult choice between Tristan Sailor and Jason Saab on the wing. Jacob Host and Jackson Ford will compete for the final bench spot.
SuperCoach opportunity: Upping his minutes from 55 to 80 and at fullback brings Zac Lomax into contention for Round 1 should he secure the spot. He'll be awkwardly priced at around $300-350k, but with likely goal-kicking duties and availability at CTW he'll become a genuine option.
Gold Coast Titans
Contentious positions: Ryan James in the back-row and Bryce Cartwright as a bench X-factor looks to be the Titans' strongest 17. However it'll all depend on the skipper's return from an ACL injury and if he remains nimble enough to play on an edge rather than the middle. Kallum Watkins should retain a starting position in the centres pushing utility Tyrone Peachey to the bench.
SuperCoach opportunity: If Jai Arrow survives pre-season with 100 per cent fitness he's an obvious Round 1 buy prospect. The Titans' 2019 Player of the Year Mo Fotuaika scores at over a point per minute, so if he can up his game time he could become a SuperCoach weapon. He's already shown his ability to play in excess of 60, including an 80 minute effort in Round 14 last year.