This week is about risking it for the biscuit. With the International break only 2 rounds away, now is your chance to get in early and pick up the people who should be returning in Rd 17.
Jordie Barrett (HUR) OUTSIDE BACK – I’ve thrown Jordie into the mix here mainly because the prospect of him playing outside centre. After beefing up in the offseason it will be interesting the see him run off Ngani Laumape at a fairly average defensive centre pairing in Bateman and Goodhue.
“They cant be that bad” you say, well they have miss 26% of tackles this year… Run hard Jordie!
Warrick Gelant (BUL) OUTSIDE BACK – Finally the South African prodigy is showing us what we all were waiting for.
Over the last 6 weeks he has pulled in 4 scores over 50 and 2 of those were over 60! With an easy run home for the Bulls, I’d expect him to continue to build on his confidence and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him running around in a Bok jersey later this season.
SELL, SELL, SELL:
James “The Sniffer” Slipper (RED) PROP – If you haven’t heard yet, Slipper has been hanging out with team dealer Karmichael Hunt and has been found with Cocaine in his system (for the second time this season). He has been told to sit in the naughty corner for 2 months and therefore will miss the rest of the season.
Akira Ioane (BLU) OUTSIDE BACK – Akira has become a shell of the man he was at the start of the season. From running close to around 100m a game over the first 10 rounds, he has only run a quarter of that during the last 4.
At 22 years old Akira is still a work in progress for the Blues and All Blacks, if his recent snubbing for the June internationals reinvigorates him, I would hate to be wearing a Rebels’ jersey next week.
Josh McKay (HIG) OUTSIDE BACK – Although an unknown prospect for anyone who doesn’t follow the Mitre 10 Cup, young McKay had a strong showing for Canterbury throughout the 2017 season. As a utility who prefers flyhalf or fullback, McKay scored 6 tries on the wing throughout his debut Mitre 10 Cup season.
Although unproven on this level, the Highlanders coaching staff have chosen him over Matt “The White Fijian” Faddes and Fletcher Smith. Coming up against the hot and cold Reds, he could be worth a one week pickup if you are a gambling man or stuck for an OBK.
RETURNING AFTER THE INTERNATIONALS:
Now is the time to look at which players you can pick up the players set to return after the June Internationals (Rd 17). A lot can change in a few weeks and any of these players could be a risk to pick up, so do your research if you are thinking about biting the bullet and picking someone up from this column.
Eben Etzebeth (STO) LOCK – Last years 4th most valuable lock has been out with a nerve injury to the shoulder. He is looking at a round 17 return at the earliest!
Keiran Read (CRU) BACK ROW – Read needs no introduction. With a 42 point average last season, he would be sitting in equal 4th this year.
After having back surgery in 2017 if he is ready and raring to take the field, he will be hungry for some rugby! He made his first appearance at Crusaders training at “walking speed” only after Rd 13 (source here) so be weary.
Pablo Matera (JAG) BACK ROW – With an average of 36.1 last season and a 5 round average for 42.4 before his injury this season, Matera would be a great pick-up if you could get your filthy mitts on him. Beware the fact no return date has been set other than the initial 2-3 month window. If you pick him up, make sure you have 3 back rowers playing in Rd 17!
Chance Peni (BRU) OUTSIDE BACK – Peni should have served out his 5 week ban come Rd 17. With 36.9 points a match so far this season, he sits just above both Andre “The Giant” Esterhuizen, Sonny-Bill Williams and Lukanyo Am. Chances (Pun intended) are he has flown under the radio at your draft.
Written by Nelson Dale