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Here comes the BOOM!

Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Melbourne Storm appears set to go to ‘gun’ status in SuperCoach NRL in 2020Source:AAP

The players priced up above $600,000 are at that price for a reason; they’ve produced a high SuperCoach average across the last season – they are the guns of the game.

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But every gun has that season where they are not priced at that status and instead become one. The likes of James Tedesco, Damien Cook, and Jason Taumalolo all started a season priced well below gun status. Picking the players that become guns is what gets you at the top of the rankings.

In 2019, we saw players like James Fisher-Harris and Cameron Murray become guns for the first time, after being priced in the middle range – they were neither guns nor cheapies. Who will follow in their footsteps? In this article I discuss five players I believe could make that leap in 2020.

RYAN PAPENHUYZEN | MELBOURNE STORM | FLB | $508,200 | 54.7 avg. in 2019

I hate the use of ‘must-have’ in SuperCoach. But if any non-cheapie is a must have in 2020, it’s Papenhuyzen, despite being only available at fullback. After being resigned to the bench for the majority of the 2020 season, any opportunity the young fullback got, he grasped with both hands. After bursting onto the SuperCoach scene with a mammoth 119 points in just 31 minutes, Ryan went on to establish himself as a SuperCoach weapon. In his six 80-minute games at fullback he averaged a monstrous 95.3 ppg (points per game). While that average may be a little optimistic for the upcoming season, priced at only $508,200, the Storm fullback is incredible value and looks certain to reach gun status in 2020, if he hasn’t already. With the Storm having an incredible record in Round 1 games, he’s my smokey pick as captain for the Storm’s season opener.

DAVID FIFITA | BRISBANE BRONCOS | 2RF | $501,900 | 54.0 avg.

It’s hard to believe this kid is just 19. Promoted to an 80 minute role in the back end of last season, the Broncos tyro went on a rampage, averaging 76.9 ppg over the last eight games, including back-to-back tons in Rounds 23 and 24, rewarding any owners who picking him up as a Point of Difference for the Head 2 Head finals. Unfortunately, he won’t be a POD in 2020, currently sitting at 41% ownership, and as he should be. There is no doubt that Fifita is going to reach gun status; it’s just a matter of when. After his barnstorming performances in the back-end of last year it’s hard to not see him consistently getting 80 mpg (minutes per game) compared to 56 mpg in 2019. If he starts in the backrow come Round 1, it would take a brave soul to bet against the young superstar.

Jesse Ramien of the Sharks is a likely future gun in SuperCoach NRL

Jesse Ramien of the Sharks is a likely future gun in SuperCoach NRLSource:Getty Images

JESSE RAMIEN | CRONULLA SHARKS | CTW | $422,000 | 45.4 avg.

After a disappointing stint with the Newcastle Knights, the bullocking centre returns home to the shire. After a promising 2018, the youngster was touted for big things in 2019, but unfortunately could never get into his groove at Newcastle, often starved of the ball. Despite this, he still managed a 45.4 ppg average, significantly down from his 2018 average of 52.7 ppg. While a return to that average wouldn’t quite justify picking him, there is enough reasons to believe that Ramien could become a gun in 2020. The powerhouse centre is set to play right centre this year, outside of Shaun Johnson. Many players have flourished outside of ‘SJ’ over the years, with the livewire half laying on assists to his outside men. With the added ability to create something on his own from his sheer strength, as displayed in the All Stars game, Ramien has all the ingredients necessary to be a top 4 CTW in 2020.

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> SuperCoach death match: Experts rate best hookers

LUCIANO LEILUA | WESTS TIGERS | 2RF | $434,300 | 46.7 avg.

The skilful edge backrower finds himself at the Wests Tigers to start the 2020 season. With his path to a regular starting spot blocked by representative players Tyson Frizell and Tariq Sims, the younger of the Leilua brothers is eyeing off a larger role in 2020. His lack of minutes – due to both the players in front of him and his own fitness – has been the only thing to prevent him becoming a SuperCoach gun already. In games he played 50+ minutes, Leilua averaged 63.7 ppg in 2020 and in the three games he played 70+ minutes he averaged 69 ppg. If he can increase his fitness and flourish under coach ‘Madge’ Maguire, Luciano could provide the X-factor that the Tigers desperately need and provide a cut-priced keeper option in the 2RF.

Kotoni Staggs of the Broncos crosses for a try during Day 2 of the 2020 NRL Nines

Kotoni Staggs of the Broncos crosses for a try during Day 2 of the 2020 NRL NinesSource:Getty Images

KOTONI STAGGS | BRISBANE BRONCOS | CTW | $447,700 | 48.2 avg.

One of the bigger mental obstacles to overcome in SuperCoach can be starting with a cheapie from the previous year for a substantially higher price than what you got them for the year before. Staggs fits that mould, but the back end of his 2019 suggests he has gun potential written all over him. After the Broncos bye in Round 12, the young centre averaged 62.8 ppg across the remaining 13 rounds. Now, it is important to note he did manage an astonishing 12 tries across this period, which may be a rate that is unsustainable. But if Isaako is left out of the 17 for the Broncos, then Staggs will be kicking goals, which he did in only five games of that high-scoring stretch. One of the best up-and-coming centres in the game, Staggs has the potential to post a season average of above 60 and become a staple in our CTWs.

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