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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League - Risers and Fallers

In this blog we are going to look at which players' values have either risen or fallen since last season. Many of the players may on be fringe players for your starting squad and may not have too much relevance this season. When looking through the dynasty lens, here are some possible risers and fallers ahead of the 2024 season.


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Hookers

Chris Randall vs Brandon Smith

This might be a spicy take but there is some really sneaky upside for Randall this season. I'm aware that this is a very small sample but in the last two games that Randall and Verrills played together, Randall was the starting hooker. Over these two games he averaged 64 points. It is worthy to note that Randall did spend time in the middle rotation when Verrills came off the bench in these two games. The point I'm trying to make is that Randall has HOK1 upside in certain situations and he showed this last season by being the HOK1 on three occasions. Don't get me wrong, it's unlikely that he will be a starting option in GDS most weeks, but he offers great boom potential on occasions. It will be interesting to see how the Titans forward rotation works under new coach Des Hasler.


Like many GDS coaches, I was disappointed with Smith's performances last season. He did start to show some form at the back end of the season when the Roosters were running hot. Over his last five games he averaged 68 minutes a game for an average of 45 points. The main reason I have him as a faller, is down to the uncertainty of minutes he'll have with a fit Connor Watson back in the side. Last season, Smith didn't finish as a HOK1 once and was only one of the top three scoring hookers in a week on two occasions. I may have Randall and Smith around the wrong way as my riser and faller, only time will tell as there is a lot of uncertainty for both players this season.


Riser - Chris Randall

Faller - Brandon Smith


Middle Forward

Tom Gilbert vs Tohu Harris

In 2023, Gilbert had his season cut short due to injury, but it looked like he was on track for a breakout season. Harris started off with a hiss and a roar in 2023, he was one of top three middle forwards over the open few rounds. I feel that these players are travelling in different directions at this stage of their careers. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Gilbert's minutes increase this season while Tohu's start to decrease. In 2023 Gilbert averaged 42 points and Tohu averaged 51 points. I think we will see these averages much closer at the end of the season and wouldn't be surprised it Gilbert averages more than Tohu.


Riser - Tom Gilbert

Faller - Tohu Harris


Edge Forward

Shaun Lane vs Isaiah Papali'i

Lane missed most of the 2023 season through injury and he averaged 33 points across the 10 games he played. Papali'i had a disappointing first season at the Wests Tigers after moving across from the Eels and he averaged 47 points across his 23 games. By all reports, Lane is ready to go for round 1 and I'm expecting him to bounce back to the form he showed in 2022. The combination that he had with Dylan Brown down the Eels' left edge was arguably the best half / edge combination in the NRL at the time. Papali'i may struggle again this season. He is a real talent but with the Wests Tigers having a completely new halves pairing, I think it will take some time for them to get their combinations clicking.


Riser - Shaun Lane

Faller - Isaiah Papali'i


Halves

Sam Walker vs Adam Reynolds

Walker had his 2023 season disrupted by injury and he averaged 46 points across his 10 games. Reynolds had a decent season and he averaged 53 points across his 23 games. Like Gilbert and Harris, the careers of Walker and Reynolds are travelling in opposite directions. I'm expecting the Roosters to be a lot better this year and believe they will be able to score plenty of points. Walker is small in stature but with him being another year older, he has bulked up a bit. He may still be knocked around like a pin ball at times but in 2023 we did see a reduction in his missed tackle count. There was also an improvement in his goal kicking. You know what you're going to get with Reynolds, he's great at directing the team around the field and one of the most accurate goal kickers in the NRL. This season I think we will see Walker outperform Reynolds and be more of an asset in GDS.


Riser - Sam Walker

Faller - Adam Reynolds


Centre

Tolutau Koula vs Siosifa Talakai

Koula had a rollercoaster of a season in 2023 and he averaged 33 points across his 19 games. However, when playing at centre he only averaged 25 points. We saw Talakai regress in 2023 and he averaged 37 points across his 22 games. On paper, the Sea Eagles backline looks like it will be a lot more dangerous this season with multiple threats across the field. Having a fit Turbo at fullback will likely provide the other backs with more space and I think Koula can be one of the main benefactors of this. Talakai might be fighting to keep his position at centre this season. There has been talk of Iro pairing Ramien in the centres and Talakai moving to the interchange, becoming the Sharks utility. If Talakai does in fact come off the interchange, he will likely not be a starting option at centre. If he was to start the odd game on the edge, this could be a game changer. A lot of GDS coaches might be licking their lips at this possibility as we all like to see players with a centre position designation starting in the forwards.


Riser - Tolutau Koula

Faller - Siosifa Talakai


Wing

Jacob Kiraz vs Alex Johnston

Kiraz was the best winger in GDS over the opening 6 rounds in 2023 and he averaged 52 points across these games. He then picked up an injury and struggled to impress for the rest of the season while starting on the wing. In round 20 he shifted into centre and averaged 45 points at this position. Johnston is one of the top try scores in the history of the NRL and sits third overall with 187 tries to his name. In 2023 he scored 21 tries and averaged 35 points across his 23 games.


It is uncertain at this stage how the Bulldogs backline will look as due to some of their new signings, and we may see Kiraz play either on the wing or at centre. At the end of the day, I still believe he has more of a fantasy relevant game than Johnston does. Johnston usually needs to score multiple tries to score well in GDS. I believe Kiraz can offer a higher ceiling on a regular basis and is likely to be more consistent. However, if you select Johnston to start and he ends up scoring 3+ tries, you might just be a genius.


Riser - Jacob Kiraz

Faller - Alex Johnston


Fullback

Jahream Bula vs AJ Brimson

Bula burst onto the scene in 2023 and he averaged 36 points across his 18 games. Brimson battled injuries last season but put in some solid performances when he was on the field and averaged 41 points across his 14 games. Both players are really talented, but Bula's future seems to be a bit brighter. Even though I'm not expecting the Wests Tigers to be all that good this season, Bula is the sort of player that goes looking for the ball and on occasions he can make the defence look silly. Brimson's position for this season is somewhat unclear, however many reports indicate that he will start at centre. If this does come to fruition, I believe his ceiling is limited as he won't have as much space to run.


Riser - Jahream Bula

Faller - AJ Brimson


 


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