Arguably the single most important position in your squad for the coming season. If you don’t know why then you need to read the first team strategy piece, but I’m not going to keep posting the link, be less lazy and go take a look :-D. The reasons Lock is so important:
- Locks are one of the highest scoring positions, with locks being the 4th, 5th and 6th highest average scoring players.
- Player versatility is key for any positions, but with lock being the most important position players that actually play lock and flanker, or 8 are worth their weight in gold.
So, what did 2018 look like in terms of points:
So once again, player price doesn’t really correlate with total or average points and there’s great value picks for less than $200k, who ended up topping the point per game chart. I’d expect this to be the same this year, which is why there’s only a couple of premium picks, the rest relative bargains considering their points potential. For locks, similar to props, because of the scoring it’s ALL about run metres:
Brodie – The guzzler is the best lock and arguably the best forward in world rugby. He finished with the 2nd highest attacking points which is a large part of why he ended up with 34.4 points per game last season. He also snaffled 13 turnovers which led all forwards. At $387k he’s not cheap, but in a game of few guarantees this is a guy to anchor your scrum, especially considering he plays in a chiefs side that likes to throw the ball around. As with a number of players, All Black resting is going to be a pain, but if you’ve got the $$$, this is the man, as he is for 36% of managers who have picked him to date. Should be good to be breaking the 30 ppg barrier again this season.
Eben– injured last season, but the man with monster guns is also a monster on the pitch. Realistically you’re only going to be able to afford Retallick OR Eben. It seems most are plumping for Brodie given Eben only has 9% of managers selecting him. Clearly some risk coming back from injury, but a slightly cheaper option then Brodie at $370k, and should be there or there abouts for 30 ppg.
With both Brodie and Eben you are ONLY getting a Lock. I know that’s a kind of obvious statement, but given the flexibility of some of the other lock options, even if you can afford it, I don’t think you want to be putting your eggs into a premium basket with two players that can only play lock.
Pieter-Steph – so, THIS, is the guy. Especially with Mostert now playing for Gloucester in the UK. Typically when Eben and Pieter-Steph play, Eben takes a little bit of the load away, but at $254k, with the ability to play lock and flanker, and more importantly, the opportunity to start at lock for the Stormers and get lock points, not flanker points, I’d recommend taking this guy over either of the guys above. Sure, he didn’t break through 30 pts per game, but at $100k+ cheaper that’s money you can invest in getting 3 really good locks in your squad, rather than one premium and a couple of budget ones.
Matt Philip – top scoring lock last year, due to his 380 run metres, which contributed to his massive 292 attacking points. Big ball carrier for the Rebels who at $235k is reasonably priced. Good ppg at 27.6, no reason not to expect a similar performance this season. However, just be careful about how many lock only players you have.
Guido Petti – The highest defensive points at 199 last season, which helped nudge him into the 27 ppg bracket and to 2nd highest total points scorer. You could do worse with having Philip and Petti as your starting lock combo for the coming season. $196k is won’t break the budget, you just need to keep an eye on the Jaguares to make sure they don’t start pissing about with their rotation, but Petti got 16 games last season.
Outside of the guys above there are plenty of locks with the ability to be getting mid 25s. We’ve already called out Sam Lousi is pretty much a must as he is listed as lock and prop – last year he got the 2nd highest defensive points at 186. Obviously it’s dependent on him starting. The other ones I’d call out are Jackson Hemopo, who’s $182k and can play FL and LK. Some talk of him getting a shot at flanker this season, which could lead to some interesting times if he’s starting at lock then moving to the flank. You’ve then got a couple of Waratah’s – Hanigan and Holloway – who might only nudge past 20 pts per game, but are good squad fillers at $163k and $167k a piece. The other man to keep an eye on is Dan Du Preez. Was injured last season, but with his brother missing for a few games, could shoulder more of the load and is listed as FL, Lk and 8 – again, I think this is one the community are already all over as he’s in 29% of teams (unless people think they’re picking JL!). You can never go wrong with SA locks either and whilst they don’t have the positional flexibility Orie and Snyman are $197k and $212k respectively and good alternatives for Petti and Philip in the lock only bucket.
So both of these guys had great seasons last year for the Sunwolves, but are somewhat risky, largely because, well, they play for the Sunwolves:
Himeno – great player and led locks with 24 defenders beaten last season. Love his versatility at LK, Fl and 8 and at $176k is a bargain. I think you’ve got to pick him again, even if he’s going to miss some time with the Brave Blossoms and only play something like 11 games again, like he did last year. Possibly pick him just for the opportunity to play across those 3 positions.
Grant Hattingh – monster ball carrier for the Sunwolves last year. I think he’s a higher risk, potential higher reward, than some of the value picks above. But, like Himeno, can cover the same 3 positions, and again, whilst he only played 11 games last year was averaging 26 ppg. Let’s face it, you’re a risk taking if you’re picking Sunwolves generally, but it does make watching their games more fun.
Pari-Pari Parkinson – a youngster with some serious pre-season hype. At 128kgs that should lead to some run meters and broken tackles, and playing in a Highlanders team is always good for the tackle count. Seems like he could be the starting lock option for the ‘Landers and is a bargain at $118k.
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Tyler Ardron – monster last year, 4th highest average points scorer, only behind Marx, DMck and Richie M. Can cover 8, FL and LK. However, got loads of game time last year due to the chiefs injury problems, and maximised his points opportunity with his starts at lock and then shifting to flanker. He’s still reasonably priced at $235k, but game-time is not a guarantee. Keep an eye on pre-season and on that first team sheet.
The other players I’m cautious of are the more expensive end of the spectrum. Lood De Jaeger had a great year last year and was 2nd highest average points scorer at lock. He also got some serious game time when he played which helped. The Bulls are a team to watch this year, but Lood’s $293k and at the more expensive end has to be at least as good as last year to justify that price. I like him, I’m borderline on him.
Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock on the other hand, I just don’t think will get the points for their price. With Whitelock I think people know that, which is why at $405k he’s only picked by 3%, but Barrett’s in 18% of teams and at $294k I think you’re better off with Lood, or better off with the value picks.