SuperCoach: when you should make Taumalolo captain
PICKING the right captain each week is a crucial decision that we're all going to get wonderfully right - and horribly wrong - at some point in the season.
Throwing the "c" on a particular player can be a dance of clicking on and off your superstars.
Do you go with your gut? Do you try to copy what you think your opponent is going to do?
Or do you read The Mastermind's deep dive analysis of when superstars tend to go big or tend to drop off during the season?
Spoiler: It's the latter.
We've crunched the numbers to see if there's any correlation between time of year, opponent and venue - amongst other things - in whether your best players hit the dizzying heights of captaincy glory or get swallowed up in a performance that makes you throw your phone across the lounge room, smashing the new TV and making you question whether you should have quit those anger management sessions.
Today, it's Jason Taumalolo.
TAUMALOLO'S BEST OPPONENTS
(Best to worst averages)
Titans - 71.5
Sea Eagles - 70.4
Roosters - 68.8
Panthers - 68.0
Tigers - 66.3
Eels - 64.1
Sharks - 59.9
Rabbitohs - 59.4
Bulldogs - 58.2
Dragons - 57.6
Storm - 54.3
Warriors - 53.8
Raiders - 53.7
Broncos - 53.4
Knights - 36.0
ANALYSIS: The Titans provide a solid floor to play with when it comes to choosing your skipper.
Taumalolo has gone 80+ in four of his past five outings against the Gold Coast, with his highest score ever - 138 - coming against them in Round 12 last season.
For a riskier play that could pay off, the big Cowboy has scored 113, 116 and 93 against the Sea Eagles in his past three games against them, while four of his past five against the Panthers have also gone for 80+.
The only real team that you have to be super wary of is the Knights. Taumalolo has never scored more than 61 points against them.
His recent form against the Storm is troubling as well, going for 50, 44, 61 and 52 in his past four games.
TAUMALOLO'S BEST ROUND
Round 1 - 64.5
Round 2 - 47.8
Round 3 - 56.3
Round 4 - 49.8
Round 5 - 48.0
Round 6 - 78.0
Round 7 - 56.1
Round 8 - 47.3
Round 9 - 50.2
Round 10 - 67.6
Round 11 - 61.1
Round 12 - 58.8
Round 13 - 65.7
Round 14 - 53.5
Round 15 - 62.6
Round 16 - 64.1
Round 17 - 50.3
Round 18 - 49.3
Round 19 - 50.8
Round 20 - 68.5
Round 21 - 64.0
Round 22 - 66.4
Round 23 - 67.2
Round 24 - 60.8
Round 25 - 62.2
Round 26 - 55.8
ANALYSIS: It's difficult to pinpoint a time of year that Taumalolo fires - he's just so damn consistent.
Round 6 is definitely a sweet spot, going 70+ in four of his five matches - and 100+ in his past two - while the Round 15 and 16 double has provided some decent recent knocks as well.
I'd like to say there's a clear pattern given how long I've been collating these numbers, but I can't give you a definitive answer and wouldn't want to mislead everyone pretending I can.
BEST FOUR CAPTAIN ROUNDS IN 2020
ROUND 9 V TITANS
Just lock him in here. Tends to roll over the Gold Coast whenever he plays them and should do the same here, despite having a few rough games in Round 9 clashes in the past.
ROUND 18 V DRAGONS
Two 80+ games against the Dragons in his past two matches is enough to get him over the line here.
ROUND 19 V SEA EAGLES
As mentioned earlier, Taumalolo is on a hat trick of 90+ performances against Manly, and while he tends to drop off around Round 19 in the past, there's no reason for concern here.
ROUND 22 V PANTHERS
Has a very good recent record against the Panthers with 80+ in four of his past five. Also has a solid late season record.
WORST FOUR CAPTAIN ROUNDS IN 2020
ROUND 1 V BRONCOS
Just be wary here. He could be fired up and ready to tear the new Townsville Stadium back down to nothing, but it's been a mixed bag against the Broncos. Tedesco is the safer option if you've got him.
ROUND 4 V KNIGHTS
Why Taumalolo doesn't play well against the Knights is a question best left to someone who has a better nuts and bolts understanding of the game - I'm all about the numbers. And the numbers - no score higher than 61 in nine games against them - show the big fella battles to perform in Newcastle.
ROUND 6 V STORM
Taumalolo's past four games against the Storm had gone for 61 points or fewer and he's only ever gone 70+ once in 12 matches against them. Avoid.
ROUND 17 V KNIGHTS
Surely he'll be due for a big game against Newcastle given they're the only team he's never scored more than 90 against? Surely? But is it a risk you're willing to take?
TAUMALOLO'S SCORES OF 90+
(Top to bottom)
138 - Round 12, 2019 v Titans at the Gold Coast
116 - Round 13, 2018 v Sea Eagles in Sydney
113 - Round 16, 2016 v Sea Eagles in Townsville
112 - Round 21, 2018 v Roosters in Sydney
111 - Round 6, 2017 v Tigers in Townsville
107 - Round 11, 2017 v Sharks in Sydney
103 - Round 23, 2019 v Panthers in Townsville
103 - Round 23, 2017 v Panthers in Sydney
100 - Round 6, 2018 v Bulldogs in Townsville
99 - Round 1, 2019 v Dragons in Townsville
98 - Round 1, 2017 v Raiders in Townsville
98 - Round 20, 2015 v Eels in Townsville
98 - Round 22, 2014 v Tigers in Townsville
97 - Round 15, 2017 v Storm in Melbourne
97 - Round 25, 2014 v Sharks in Townsville
95 - Round 22, 2018 v Broncos in Townsville
94 - Round 10, 2019 v Eels in Townsville
94 - Round 9, 2014 v Panthers in Bathurst
94 - Round 19, 2017 v Rabbitohs in Cairns
93 - Round 13, 2019 v Sea Eagles in Townsville
93 - Round 11, 2019 v Raiders in Canberra
92 - Round 18, 2019 v Rabbitohs in Townsville
91 - Round 24, 2016 v Warriors in Townsville