At this stage of the year, there are two Ultimate League commandments that must be obeyed at all times. Thou shalt not miss any NRL game and miss the potential late change that could see your team a player down. And more importantly, thou shalt not underestimate the importance of head-to-head NRL matches.
Plain and simple: it could be the thing that costs you a spot in the Ultimate League final series.
Take, for instance, this week. Parramatta travel to Darwin to play Canberra. Before a ball was kicked this year it was probably a 50:50 game.
Now, with Canberra ravaged by injury and out of finals contention and Jarryd Hayne flying high, the Eels look set to rack up a score to match the heat in the Northern Territory.
Ultimate League coaches need to cash in. While Hayne is off the market, his supporting crew are likely to score well with the likes of Corey Norman, Will Hopoate and Ryan Morgan the potential beneficiaries.
The Eels are not the only team to consider buying players from. The Cowboys, Warriors and Roosters are all slated to win well at home and have several outside backs who could rack up big numbers. The challenge for you the Ultimate League coach is to pick the right player.
For those worried about loyalty – don’t. Just like in the real world of NRL, you need to pick a team that can win you a game for that week and not be sentimental on how good a player has been for you in the past.
Establishing a core group of players, mixed with calculated changes based on the weekend’s game, will not only keep your team fresh but make it hard for opponents to match up against you.
Having said that, here are my top three trade options for this week:
1. Paul Vaughan: Injuries have depleted the Raiders and Vaughan could be the man to benefit with more game time.
2. Bureta Faraimo: A potential short-term fix at fullback who could benefit running off Jarryd Hayne in Darwin.
3. Kane Linnett: Somewhat of an unsung hero at the Cowboys and has been producing good numbers in a winning team.
Ultimate League Team of the Week
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