Keep an Eye on: Ben Matulino
If you're looking for an edge in your NRL Fantasy team today, Wests Tigers prop Ben Matulino might just be the way to go as he takes on the Sydney Roosters.
A fantasy gun of the past, Matulino battled injury early on in 2017 before returning to the team in the midway point of the year — quickly finding his feet as the Warriors themselves battled inconsistency.
Earning a recall to the run-on side, the New Zealand international's form grew from strength to strength as the season wore on: running for more than 100 metres in every match since Round 11 while averaging 30 tackles per game as well. Known for his ability to play long minutes, Matulino was a touch under-utilised by the Warriors in 2017 as his minutes dropped from 62 per game in 2015 to 52 per game in 2017, but his final performance against his new club Wests Tigers showed exactly what he was capable of doing with time in middle — chalking up 148 metres from 16 carries and a team-high 42 tackles at Leichhardt Oval.
His form perhaps warranted selection in the Kiwis' squad for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, but the 29-year-old was unavailable for selection as he got minor work done on his knee in the break.
With a change of environment in 2018 and reunited with former teammates Elijah Taylor and Russell Packer, Matulino is heading in to the new year fresh and is certainly a point of difference in the middle for those looking to get the edge in their respective Fantasy matchups.
Owned by just 2.3% of teams and costing under $600,000, Matulino has the potential to be the number one forward at Wests Tigers in 2018 and could be in line for big minutes over the first few weeks of the year.
Coach Ivan Cleary has named just one recognised prop on the bench for today's game in Alex Twal, and although it's likely that Matt Eisenhuth will spend time in the middle too, the opportunity is there for Matulino to really hit the ground running with plenty of time on the field to show what he can do.