Corey Parker, the most expensive player in Toyota NRL Dream Team, has been ruled out for 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury.
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TOYOTA NRL DREAM TEAM WATCH: The big Corey Parker question, plus the best buys of the week as the head-to-head finals begin...
Dream Team puzzle of the week
It's with a sense of déjà vu that we again consider whether to trade out Dream Team gun Corey Parker this week, at the end of a season in which the Broncos lock has been a great scorer on the field but has also spent too long off it. After overcoming a knee problem to play last weekend, Parker has now picked up a shoulder injury and has been ruled out for between two and four weeks – most likely meaning a return to action in Round 25.
That means those 33,782 Dream Teams that have Parker in their squad need to decide whether they can afford to leave the game's most expensive player on the sidelines or trade him for another strong scorer.
With the head-to-head league finals now underway, this is a crucial week for Dream Team so if you've got more than a couple of trades left then use one on Parker. You can always use another trade to bring him back in a fortnight. But if you have decent cover or are very low on trades, strongly consider holding onto him. There's every chance he will be back to post big scores in the final two weeks of the year, so the smarter move in the long run could be to keep the faith and hope his renowned powers of recovery get him back on the field sooner rather than later.
For the best replacements for Parker, read on...
The week's best buys
Superhuman Shark Paul Gallen is $27,800 cheaper than he was last week, and after playing his first game in ages should be back to his old high-scoring ways this weekend (not that last week's 49 was too shabby). Snap him up now if you can.
Along with Gallen, Raiders lock Shaun Fensom is the other obvious man to trade in for Parker if you're in the market. He's one of the hardest-working defenders in the league and is coming off a bumper 89-point effort in Round 22 in which he also scored a try and ran for 170 metres. He's slightly cheaper than Gallen and has match fitness on his side, although the Sharks skipper is a more proven performer.
Nathan Hindmarsh, Dave Talyor, Gavin Cooper and Chris Houston are the next best potential replacements for Parker.
It's very late in the season but rookie Tigers winger Marika Koroibete has stormed onto the scene as a potential Dream Team bargain, scoring 102 points with a four-try effort in just his second NRL game. He won't be priced at $77,100 after this weekend so now's the time to snap him up if you're interested (beware though that Koroibete only scored eight points the previous week, and will rely on tries for more big scores). Roosters winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also impressed with 47 points last week, and like Koroibete is a rookie winger who will get his first price boost this week.
Ins and outs
Injuries and positional changes are wreaking a bit of havoc with a few popular Dream Team stars heading into this weekend's crunch games.
Wests Tigers workhorse Liam Fulton has been named at five-eighth again, where he scored just 26 on Monday night. With the Tigers' pack now back to full strength and front-line pivot Curtis Sironen out for the year, it's hard to see Fulton starting in the forwards again this season – meaning his scores are likely to stay low.
Meanwhile Rabbitohs rake Issac Luke returns from suspension but has been named on the bench, in what could be a major blow to his scoring ability.
Brisbane's Corey Norman – whose steady decline this season hit a low point with last week's 13 – was also initially named on the bench but is now likely to make the switch to fullback in place of Josh Hoffman, who has been stood down for arriving late to training. The move may boost Norman's scores for a week, but there's every chance he'll be back to the interchange in Round 24. Bronco Alex Glenn has been ruled out until the NRL finals, so trade him if you've got him.
Injured Warriors trio James Maloney, Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino weren't named this week, with Maloney and Mannering expected back in Round 24 and Matulino out until the final game of the regular season. On the positive side for the Kiwis, at least Warriors try-scoring machine and Dream Team favourite Konrad Hurrell is back from injury.