Wayne Bennett has hit back at critics of the NRL’s tough foul-play stance, declaring the game isn’t soft when players stick to the rules.
After playing with the new NRL Fantasy format in Round 1, having only 21 players in each squad is going to make the 2018 season particularly challenging as the year progresses and injuries start to have an impact.
Here are my first impressions after the first round of play.
There are only two byes this season, and looking at them my first impression is that it looks easier than last year, when there were three byes and three partial byes.
The byes this year are in Round 13 and Round 17, so assuming you can find 17 players available in Round 13 – excluding Origin players of course – then you will need to turn around and find 17 different players four rounds later, keeping in mind that there are only ten trades available to you.
On the assumption that you have no Origin players in your team, this means you will still be missing at least four players for Round 17.
Ideally, if I thought of it at the time, I would have stacked my team with Round 17 bye players to begin with rather than have to spend byes before Round 13 to get the players I need.
Well, I guess we’re all on a level playing field so far as byes are concerned.
I had thought that injuries would be of lesser concern than last year with the automatic replacement of selected players who withdraw pre-match, but that may not be the case.
The reduction of four reserve players now means a greater chance of not having available replacements, particularly in the second half of the round.
Chances are that later on in the season, when coaches like to select injured players in the hope that they will be able to play, we will all get stung by a lack of available reserves, particularly in the last two Sunday matches.
Also, where previously you might’ve held onto an injured player rather than trade them, this practice will now further reduce your available reserves below an acceptable level.
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Results from Round 1
It seems clear that NRL Fantasy 2018 is going to be high scoring given that three players scored over 900 points in Round 1. I was nowhere near that, although I had tried to stack my team with cheapies rather than go for maximum points at this early stage of the season.
Let me know how you are going so far and any other comments you have about the new 2018 format for NRL Fantasy.