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A  chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

As good as we played against the Cowboys, we softened up towards the end of the first half once our bench guys came on. When our starters Nuikore, Junior, RCG went off, we lost our dominance in the midde. Subsequently, the Cowboys made easy ground and started busting us through the middle and them scored on our fabled right edge. The often reliable but match-unfit Gower was the most obvious sinner, as he was dropping balls and letting players whiz past him needing Gutho to push him into the defensive line when we were on the goal-line defending, weakening the line, just before the Cows scored (though he improved greatly in the second half, perhaps after a rev up).

It didn't matter in this game, but it could when it gets to squeaky bum time.

It goes to show Arthur may need to be careful in the bigger games. Whether he keeps some starters on-field for longer hours, like big-motored Junior who's in career best form and not have all off at the same time; that's something for him to decide.

The good performances of Field, Kaufusi, Taka and even Stone make me wonder as to what might be the best composition of our best bench. Here's my initial thoughts on our best bench, pending injuries:

Lock-ins:

Brown/Nuikore (one in starting team). Nuikore has proven himself this year. Strong and agressive running and defending.

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Kaufusi. It's critical we keep developing him (even over Evans) and getting him working long-term with the entire engine room. The longer they play together the better.

Likey:

Evans, when he returns. We probably need another bopper to rotate RCG and Junior with.

One more spot: our best no.14?

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Stone, is a goer (despite last week's horror show) and probably the frontrunner, but I wonder whether Field hasn't made a case, or even Taka?

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Field shows his blinding acceleration. Meanwhile,Taka can play on the edges or halves as a great temporary link man. He's skillful and running hard at the moment.

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Ideally, the bench could do more than maintain momentum: provide energy and spark, change momentum in our favour, be game-changers, perhaps when the team needs it most. 

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It's been a while since we had a sparkly no.14 out in the middle the likes of a PJ Marsh or Brad Drew: skillful support player with zip and speed,  busting the middle. Stone isn't in that mould. Reed isn't there with his running game either, yet, but he's a key cog, that we need for as long as possible on the field.

But, I wonder whether Field could provide some extra zip, off the bench, to break open a game with his speed, support play and developing skills. However, it's difficult to see Field playing in the middle or at dummy half relief permanently. So, it makes me question: where he would he fit into the equation, other than injury cover? It would mean a reshuffle to fit him in. He's also unproven. But, maybe he's worth persevering with?

There's an old mantra: select your best 17 then work out the positions later.

So, who is the best player between the three of them? Stone doesn't possess the skills of Field and Taka. But without Stone, do we lose too much energy in the middle when our starters are off? And do we really need Field or Taka in the 17?

Perhaps, our final bench will rotate dependant on our opposition and injuries? Perhaps there's a better bench I haven't thought of? What are your thoughts ladies and gentlemen? How can we get the most juice from the bench?

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  • Evans, Niukore and Kaufusi appears to have a lock on  15, 16 and 17. 
    14 seems Taka or Stone with Field the, um, left field pick. 
    Did BA show his hand in the final 10 against the Cows, resting MJ and leaving Taka on and shifting Taka to MJ's centre position? Also, one would think Paulo and RCG may need a rest at some stage. Paulo was bought back on in the second half of Cows game with 20 mins when he normally resumes with 30 mins to go. Stone played 30 mins. These rotations may determine bench make up for games up to the finals but will 14 be the only open spot come finals time?

    • 🍆. Professor I think this fell out of your pocket in all the excitement 

      • It's pretty pathetic to make a fake account as a second account. I guess if you're getting banned all the time you need a backup. 

        • Hes had that account for years Daz, always suggesting people should be banned who show you up to be a dope, so typical lefty, make threats to get your own way while everybody else can cop a few sledges like a man, except Daz.

           

          • As I was saying 

  • For me the team looked a different (better) beast when Nathan Brown was on the paddock, so with a fit roster I see the first three on the bench as Evans, Niukore and Kaufusi. In practice you could see the forth spot rotated between others but primarily Taka, Stone and Field. My biggest concern is when injuries strike, like what we are facing now, that extra player or two that comes onto the bench is not match fit. Gower looked gassed the other night after 5 minutes. It led to a try but didn't affect the outcome, but against a quality team in a tight match something like that 5 minutes could be the difference between winning and losing. With no second tier comp running at the moment I'm not sure how you solve that problem.

    • That's going to be the challenge for everyone this year, how do you cope without 2nd tier footy ?

      It's why this years title is more open than ever before, because one or two injuries to key players at the wrong time can you really sink you, even moreso than usual.

      I still believe the Roosters are extremely vulnerable after the injuries to Sam Verrills & Victor Radley. If Jake Friend gets injured, and that's always a possibility with him these days, who do they play at dummy half ?

  • Maybe another way to look at the bench is to ask if the Bench continues what the starting roster does or has the old X factor p,Ayer who comes on to add something different?

    Field would be an X Factor.

    But when you look at our stats, the Eels are the offload kings with everyone but RCG in the top offloader category, while only Waqa and MM (along with every other half) feature in the top missed tackle count. Our defence is good, and we already play to promote second phase play, so does that suggest the #14 is going to remain a "coverage" player, like Taka?

  • According to Phil Rothfield for what its worth.......The queue is already forming for unwanted Warriors playmaker Blake Green, who played a blinder against the Broncos. There’s a sneaky tip the Parramatta Eels are seriously keen, probably as a No.14 to cover for Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown.

    https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/john-bateman-breaks-sil...

    • For this season? I'm not sure how we fit him into the Top 30. It'd probably mean releasing Salmon. Green would be an ideal backup. Tough, good defender, decent kicking game. He'd get the job done if called upon. Probably depends on if he wants to be a backup. That being said, he's the type of player Brisbane need, although they've thrown their lot in with Croft and Milford anyway.

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