Every week GameDay Squad coaches are searching for that player-of-difference (POD) to help them have the edge over the competition. Over the finals series we will be going over three different POD options ahead of the weekend’s footy. After reading this, hopefully some of the questions you might have for certain players would have been answered. Let us know your thoughts on who we have down below on all of our social channels twitter, facebook, instagram, discord.
Sam Walker – HLF, Sydney Roosters
Walker returned from injury in round 26 and since then he has produced an average of 49 points. He’s been playing well and looks great with the ball in hand. With the Roosters being without Manu, Suaali’i and Billy Smith isn’t a good thing for them or Walker. However, this may be a positive if Walker decides to run the ball more. After Suaali’i went off with his HIA last week, Walker took over the goal kicking duties and I’m expecting him to keep them this week. Most coaches are likely to select two of either Munster, Hughes or SJ to start this week. Normally for me Walker would rank last out of these four players but there is considerable downside for Munster, Hughes and SJ this week. Playing halves from the sameteam is sometimes not a great idea as they tend to take points off each other. This could happen to Munster and Hughes this week and I think Walker will score more than one of these two players. SJ missed week one of the finals and he’s still under an injury cloud ahead of the Knights clash. If SJ is a late exclusion, who would you want to replace him out of Martin, Clune or Gamble? Personally, I wouldn’t want to play any of these players and would prefer to play Walker. This is where Walker could be a great POD option this week.
Justin Olam – CTR, Melbourne Storm
The likely centre combination this week for most coaches seems to be Gagai and Best. Like with the halves, it may not be a great idea playing both centres from the same team. In the 20 games these two centres have started together this season, only on five occasions have they both had scores of 40+, that’s a 25% hit rate. If you don’t like the sound of that and are looking for a POD, Justin Olam might just be your man. This may come as a surprise but after I looked at the other available centres matchups for this week, Olam has the best. This is due to both Billy Smith and Manu being out. Olam has been out of favor for the Storm overthe back end of the season but this week he gets an opportunity due to Tonumaipea being out. I’m expecting him to come out and try and win back his starting job. His stat lines acrossthe season aren’t that flattering but having Olam as a POD solely comes down to him havingthe best matchup this week. Pompey was another consideration but he’s likely to be matching up against Gagai and I can see him losing a few too many points through missed tackles for my liking.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad – WFB, New Zealand Warriors
Ponga and Teddy are both almost auto picks for the WFB position this week. The question is, who will be the third? My first thought was either Marzhew or Young due to the Knights form but when I investigated the numbers, I came across a third option in CNK.CNK has been having a good year back at the Warriors and he’s been great at returning the ball back from kicks. I believe CNK is a better option than the Knights wingers because of the matchup. The Knights have been one of the better teams this season for opposition fullbacks to score points against, they allow 48 points a game across the season and 52 a game over the last four games. The Warriors are one of the better teams at defending against wingers and allow 39 points a game to right wingers and 30 points a game to left wingers. I think this game is going to be a great contest all the way through and believe a lot of it will be played through the middle of the field. If this does come to fruition, it will favor CNK more than the Knights wingers.