As the NRL Preseason gets into the full swing of things, there are a few positional match ups from each team that all fantasy coaches should keep an eye on. In this article we will dive into how each team's pre season moves could help decide some tough fantasy decisions.
Penrith Panthers: Number 14
A victim of their own success, The Panthers have lost a few key players in their hunt for three consecutive premiership. The loss of Viliame Kikau appears to be covered by Luke Garner, who himself offers great fantasy value, but in this article we are going to look at the impact that Api Korisau’s departure will have on some Penrith fantasy prospects.
The main beneficiary of Koroisau’s departure on the surface is Mitch Kenny. Priced at 426k, it should be expected that Kenny is the starting number 9 come round 1, and with an average of 45.8 when playing over 50 minutes he is nearly a must have. But his potential as a cash cow could be hampered depending if Ivan Cleary decides on Soni Luke or Tyrone Peachey as Penrith's Number 14.
Cleary could opt to approach his dummy half rotation similar to how he did at the back end of 2022, with the more stable defender, Kenny, starting the game and the more creative dummy half, Koroisau, coming on when the sting was out of the game. In 2023, this would see Soni Luke taking the place of Koroisau. This rotation with Luke coming on after 25-30 could make Luke the better value pick among the dummy halves. The ability to have a creative dummy half play 50 minutes in a proven Penrith team will provide excellent value. Coupling this with Luke’s near-basement price of 250k and an average of 56.6 in NSW Cup in 2022, this rotation could prove valuable for fantasy coaches.
The inclusion of Soni Luke could also turn Mitch Kenny into a trap. In 2022, the inclusion of Koroisau off the bench turned Kenny into a middle defender, and with limited creativity as a player cannot be expected to have big fantasy outputs outside an average of 30-40 tackles a game. In games that Kenny has started at hooker but failed to meet 60 minutes he has an average of 26.1, and with the strength of Pentrith middle rotation it is fair to assume Kenny’s minutes as a middle may be limited once being replaced as hooker.
On the other hand, the inclusion of Tyrone Peachey as Penrith’s number 14 could be favorable for Mitch Kenny’s fantasy prospects. Not a specialist hooker, Peachey provides greater utility value to the Penrith team. With Peachey as Penrith’s number 14, he could rotate in to spell Kenny for a 20 minute period after 30 minutes and allow for Kenny to constantly get 60-plus minutes each game. This would provide Kenny with the potential of nearly 200k in price rises and 15 points of value, which every fantasy coach is looking for come round 1.
The World Club Challenge will be a good opportunity for fantasy coaches to get a first glimpse as to what Ivan Cleary is looking to do with his team, with one eye on the bench to see what roles Kenny, Luke and Peachey play in the Penrith team. With a few options for Ivan Cleary to deploy, there proves to be some value regardless of which way Cleary looks to configure his team. If you haven't yet check out the Panthers NRL Fantasy preview. TK & Rich rip into the fortunes of Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Jarome Luai, Tyrone Peachey, Mitch Kenny, Soni Luke, Luke Garner, Zac Hosking, Brian To’o and Sunia Turuva.