James Tedesco v Lachlan Coote
James Tedesco was among the best performers in last weekend’s narrow loss to Newcastle, racking up 160 metres from 17 runs - second only to Aaron Woods in most metres for Wests Tigers. The Camden Rams junior possesses an impressive strike rate of 22 tries in 38 games and will be out for a big performance in front of a home crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Lachlan Coote hasn’t played an NRL match against Wests Tigers in over two years, with his last start against the joint-venture in Round 2, 2013 with the Penrith Panthers. It has been a remarkable comeback from injury for the 25-year-old, quickly becoming a key member of the Cowboys side this season.
It’s still unknown who will fill the void left by Michael Morgan in the North Queensland halves, with Coote an option to slot in at five-eighth. It’s hard to believe that Tedesco and Coote are yet to play one another at an NRL level yet and with both players in relatively good form; this encounter is set to be a real highlight on Saturday.
Career Head-to-Head: Yet to play at an NRL level.
NRL Fantasy Prices: Tedesco $358,000 (Season: +$16,000; Average: 45.1), Coote $322,000 (Season: -+$185,000; Average: 43.6)
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Dene Halatau v Jake Granville
Dene Halatau will not only fill-in for Robbie Farah as hooker this week, but he will also take the reins as skipper for the very first time in his 200-plus game career. The timing couldn’t be better either, with this particular match set to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 Grand Final, which Halatau was of course a part of.
Jake Granville has been a quality acquisition for the Cowboys this season, coming over from Queensland counterparts Brisbane in the search of a first grade opportunity. The Rockhampton junior has certainly found that, making his way into the starting side recently and alternating well with Rory Kostjasyn throughout the year.
While this will be Granville’s first ever game against Wests Tigers, he has played one match against Halatau previously. It was just the second NRL match of his career in Round 11 2013, with both players starting on the bench in the Bulldogs-Broncos clash. Exactly two years on, Granville and Halatau are starting at hooker for different Clubs and look set to have a major impact on this match.
Career Head-to-Head: Played 1 — Halatau 1, Granville 0
NRL Fantasy Prices: Halatau $200,000 (Season: +$13,000; Average: 25.8), Granville $287,000 (Season: +$98,000; Average: 33.5)
Pat Richards v Matthew Wright
While a decade has passed since ‘that try’, Wests Tigers fans will never get sick of watching Pat Richards’ four-pointer in the 2005 decider. That was the Cabramatta junior’s final game for the Club before heading to the Super League for eight seasons, only to return last year in top form with 17 tries in 29 appearances so far.
Another player that change positions due to the late call-up of Michael Morgan in the Queensland side is Matthew Wright, who may slot in at fullback if Coote moves to the halves. The former Cronulla flyer scored a hat-trick in the Cowboys 64-6 victory over Wests Tigers in Round 22 last year.
It’s an exciting showdown on both wings this Saturday night, with Antonio Winterstein and Kevin Naiqama marking up on the opposite side of the paddock. The Richards-Wright match-up has the better try-scoring record this season though with 13 (Richards 8, Wright 5) to six (Naiqama 3, Winterstein 3).
Career Head-to-Head: Played 1 — Richards 1, Wright 0
NRL Fantasy Prices: Richards $227,000 (Season: -$19,000; Average: 30.3), Wright $252,000 (Season: -$2,000; Average: 30)