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By Michael Luxford

The most hyped NRL Fantasy Football game is back.

NRL Supercoach is back and better than ever, offering increased weekly prizes and $30,000 to the overall points leader at the end of round 26. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, playing head-to-head or looking for overall glory, 2015 is shaping up to be a great year for Supercoaches.

Rule Changes:

There has been a slight change to player positions and the scoring system in an effort to shift the emphasis placed on certain players (particularly forwards) and create unique teams, as it has become almost common practice for teams to end the season largely the same. While these changes are exciting it’s important not to get to carried away with them, a few minor scoring changes aren’t likely to turn an average player into a must have.

Increased Salary Cap:

The salary cap for Supercoach this year has gone from $5m to $6.5m to reflect the actual NRL salary cap. As a result, player prices have also been increased, although there has been no consideration for changes to the scoring system in player starting prices.

The Last Touch Assist Rule:

The last touch assist rule awards players six points for being involved in the last touch before a try is scored, whether the touch be a pass, kick or offload. However, players will only be awarded these points provided they do not receive points for the try assist.
This rule will no doubt see an increase in scores by centres, but this increase will depend on how good the player is outside them. It is important to remember that you shouldn’t sacrifice your team’s structure in pursuit of a few extra points.

Forced Drop Out and Scrums:

The forced drop out run has now been extended to include scrums, therefore if the kicker of the ball forces the defender to play at the ball resulting in a scrum they will be awarded six points. This slight change is unlikely to benefit any player or group of players, and will be something that only happens on the odd occasion.

Effective and Ineffective Offloads:

This rule change will no doubt have the biggest effect on player’s scores. Instead of receiving four points for an off-load, it will now be broken down into effective and ineffective offloads. The latter will only be worth two points. Offloads will be judged on their outcome, for example an offload that hits the ground and doesn’t help to advance the ball will be deemed to be ineffective. While an effective offload is one that helps the team move up field.
As player prices haven’t been changed to reflect this rule, it is likely to affect player prices. While this may help pick up those guns later in the year, it will cause headaches to start it, at least until we have a clear break down of each player’s effective vs ineffective offloads.

Kick and Regather Break:

This rule is exactly as it sounds, players will now be awarded eight points for a kick and regather break. While this rule adds excitement to Supercoach it is one that will have limited effect, and should not affect how you go about picking your team.
Chris Sandow is one player that comes to mind when assessing this rule. However, his turnstile defence and deduction of two points for each missed tackle quickly negates any bonus he will gain from the introduction of this rule.

Hooker a Separate Position:

Making hooker a positon on its own is the biggest rule change this year. It will no doubt make players question their strategies. Should you start the season with two top of the line guns, such as; Robbie Farah, Cameron Smith (although injury is likely to prevent him starting the season) and James Segeyaro, or run with one gun hooker and pick up a cheaper option so that money can be spent elsewhere? While there is no right answer (yet), this is one question that is likely to keep Supercoaches up all night on Wednesday March 4th as they make the final decisions on their team.

Image courtesy of The Courier Mail