This article was first published by Scoop - The Daily Telegraph.
Increasingly over the last year, one of my conversation starters has become 'do you know what NRL SuperCoach is?' This time last year I found myself in a very similar position to what some of you may be in now - the position of someone who had never played NRL SuperCoach.
In February last year however, I became engrossed in the world of SuperCoach and never looked back.
Last year was a big learning experience, so I thought it would be helpful if I passed on some tips which might encourage some of you to get involved with it this year. I promise it is a lot of fun and you will fall in love with players and teams in a way that you never have before.
The aim of the game is to get as many points from 17 starting players in your 25 man roster. Your roster will change in value depending on the points each player gets above and below their break even (see below). As players value changes, you gradually improve your roster to ideally have approximately 20 gun players by around Round 20.
NRL SuperCoach Glossary
The first thing I noticed when I started playing NRL SuperCoach was that everyone seemed to be using abbreviations and bizarre words. Terminologies which I had never heard of before and which I needed to learn quickly. To save you some time, I have set out some the SuperCoach jargon to get you started:
· Automatic Emergency (AE): If one of the players nominated in your 17 starting squad does not take the field then you will receive the score of your AE which is the lowest scoring player that took the field from your remaining 8 players. You only get one AE score so make sure your starting 17 are playing that week.
· Break Even: This is the score required by your player to maintain their value. If your player scores below their BE they will go down in value, if they score above they will increase in value. Generally as a rule of thumb they will go up or down $500 for each point they are above or below their BE. Please note that a player does not change value until after their 3rd appearance on the field. So no player will change value until after round 3 of the competition.
· Cash Cow: A cheaper player (ideally a rookie) whose primary focus is to play enough time and accumulate enough points to build their value to a point where you can trade them to a player who will improve your squad. A rookie who is good enough to have in your starting 17 is gold. Potential good ones this year are Jackson Hastings (Sydney Roosters), Jaelen Feeney (Newcastle Knights) and Jayden Nikorima (Sydney Roosters).
· God: You will find that many of the NRL players have NRL SuperCoach nicknames. God is Corey Parker who has traditionally been one of the most consistent and widely held players. In past seasons, Parker has been dependable to score over 80 points a week and is a reliable captain choice, thus earning him the nickname of NRL SuperCoach God.
· Keeper: A player who is considered strong enough to be part of your final squad. These are the elite players like Johnathan Thurston, Sam Burgess, Shaun Johnson, Anthony Milford, Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, Corey Parker, James Tedesco and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. You need to start with approximately 8 keepers as they will form the basis score and be one of your captain selections each week.
· POD: This stands for point of difference and means players that are owned, in my opinion, by less than 15% of contestants. For me, my POD's at the start of the last year included Tohu Harris and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. I also did not have Johnathan Thurston till Round 19 yet many would have said he was a must have from Week 1. It is very easy to fall prey to group think and ideally you should have players which will differentiate your team from your competitors.
Top 10 NRL SuperCoach tips for newbies
When starting out, NRL SuperCoach can seem a bit daunting - there is a lot going on and you do not have the luxury of being able to fall behind too much in the early rounds. So here are my top 10 tips.
10. Just because your selection is a good NRL player, does not necessarily mean that they will be worthy of making it into your NRL SuperCoach team. Players that tend not to score as well are ones that organise their teams and are solid but do not have a high enough work rate or do not have enough attacking statistics. Players that fit this description include Jamie Soward, and Luke Brooks. Another is the type of player that does not get involved enough like Tony Williams. These are NRL SuperCoach traps and you should avoid them at all costs.
9. You absolutely must keep up to date with team changes and late injuries. If your player is injured in the lead up to a game, there is a very small window to swap them for one of your reserves. The easiest way to keep a handle on that is through a Twitter account called @wackoswhispers. Wacko announces the official team line up usually one hour before each game, giving you just enough time to update your team.
8. Conserve your trades. Conserve your trades. Conserve your trades. This one is crucial. There are 26 rounds in the NRL competition and you are allowed 40 trades in total (2 per week, with 4 during the bye rounds). If you do the maths you will be able to work out that that does not necessarily equate to 2 trades a week. A big mistake many players make is running out of trades well before the season ends, meaning that should they suffer an injury, they are in big trouble. I went from Round 21 to the end last year without any trades - it was a very risky strategy! So it is critical you pick some rounds that you will not trade. The first 5 weeks are trade weeks as you tweak your team, thereafter start conserving trades. You should try to have 1 to 2 trades left in week 21.
7. The goal is to build your team's value. For some background, each coach has the same salary cap at the beginning of the year - however as your players begin to increase and decrease in value your salary cap will too. If your team is full of players that increase in value, so will your team (and vice versa). When picking an initial team, be sure to pick a mixture of seasoned professionals who will get you points (Paul Gallen, Sam Burgess and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck) and rookies who will increase in value over the season (Jaelen Feeney, Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings). Getting this mix right is tricky, but possible!
6. Consider the rule changes this year because they have an impact on the game. The reduced interchange rule and time limit on scrums and drop outs should increase the speed of the game. So look for players that are likely to play extra minutes this year and that will be worth including in your team. Also keep an eye on speedy playmakers that may be able to zip through the line of defence as the forwards begin to tire towards the end of each half - Teddy Tedesco is one of my favourite NRL SuperCoach players and I am expecting a big season from him.
5.Plan for the bye rounds well in advance. The bye rounds are generally the undoing for most coaches. As I explained above, you only have a certain number of trades per week. If your team is stacked with players who do not play the bye round, it is unlikely that you will have 17 players able to take the field. This is a sure way to watch your ranking plummet. Remember you have 4 trades before each of the big bye rounds which will help your planning if you have conserved your trades well.
4. Do not be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of very useful NRL SuperCoach resources online. Just do not take Tom Sangster's advice too seriously… his best finish was in the low 90's after all. J Of course that was a joke and Tom’s articles are some of the best going round.
3. Think about your captain very carefully because your captain gets double points. In the past, the approach was always to pick a consistent forward to be captain because these were players that would make the metres, offload and have the odd try. Corey Parker was perfect because he also did the goal kicking. However, last year, I did see the emergence of a new strategy - picking an outside back to be your captain. I captained Semi Radradra multiple times last year and on other instances captained Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Teddy Tedesco. Additionally Shaun Johnson was also one of my captain picks. This strategy worked especially in the last week where I was the only leader who captained Semi Radradra.
2. Know when to trade in your cash cows. There will come a point where your cash cow has built value and started to stagnate in value. Keep an eye on their breakeven and start improving your squad when they have seemingly maximised their value.
1. Think about players that will get you points. This might seem obvious, but what I mean is that NRL SuperCoach points are heavily weighted in the favour of attacking players with a try being worth 17 points and a line break being worth 10 points whilst a try assist is worth 12 points. Pick players in your 17 that play 80 minutes or close to, and are likely to offload or make tackle breaks. These are players that will earn you the points.
To get you all started here are my tips for the first two players you should pick in your 2016 team. This is obvious and the one time you are allowed to go with the pack because you cannot go past Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Jackson Hastings (Sydney Roosters). Now you just have to pick another 23 players (after all we have to each find our PODs), a team name and a team logo and off you go toward the first prize of $50,000.
Good luck to all of you - may the best and bravest Supercoach win!
Ladies who League (and Mary's Magic Men) xxx