KFC SuperCoach is all about getting that boom young gun before everyone else knows about them. Here’s our guide to the best bargain buys of 2023.

Cheapies are the most important players in your KFC SuperCoach team because they start at bottom dollar and have the most potential to increase in value.

While scoring points is where KFC SuperCoach is won and lost, in order to keep growing your team and trading in the gun pointscorers, you need cheapies to generate extra cash.

Below we run through the merits of some of the most popular early bargain buys.

But first some housekeeping:

– We have upped the KFC SuperCoach salary cap from $10 million to $11.45 million, essentially in line with the actual NRL salary cap;

– This means a bottom dollar player is now $200,800, up from $175,400.

– We’ve therefore increased the Cheapie Bible threshold from $300,000 to around the $330,000 mark. But yeah nah, a bargain is a bargain so who’s actually counting?

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2023 KFC SUPERCOACH NRL CHEAPIE BIBLE

Alofiana Khan-Pereira CTW $200,800

The Titans are set to blood one of the fastest players in the NRL, with flying winger Alofiana Khan-Pereira bolting in the box seat for a round 1 debut.

Khan-Pereira, 21, scored a stunning 25 tries in 19 games for Burleigh last season on his way to being named winger of the year in the Hostplus Cup.

He was last year clocked at a top speed of 36.5km/h by the Titans in internal testing, but has been working on his speed this pre-season and could be even quicker when he graces the NRL.

The Titans are lacking backline depth which has opened the door for Khan-Pereira to press his round 1 claims in next month’s trial matches.

Winger Greg Marzhew was released to Newcastle late last year, while Brian Kelly (suspension) and Patrick Herbert (knee) are unavailable for selection in the opening rounds.

Holbrook has settled on his backline heading into the trials, with Tanah Boyd and Kieran Foran in the halves and Brimson reverting back to his favoured position at fullback along with Khan-Pereira and Fifita on the wings.

Bulldogs recruit Aaron Schoupp will start at right centre while ex-Queensland winger Phil Sami has been training at left centre next to Khan-Pereira.

Travis Meyn

Jayden Sullivan 5/8 HOK $319,200

With Talatau Amone in doubt for the season due to police charges, the five-eighth spot at the Dragons is Sullivan’s to lose. He played a mixture of bench hooker and halves last season at just 41 minutes a game and therefore starts cheap. But he should up his game time to 80 minutes as the Dragons’ first-choice No. 6. The Dragons are hardly screaming tries for 2023, but the maths makes sense.

JAN 19 UPDATE: Sullivan has suffered a hamstring and is set to miss most of the remaining pre-season. While he’ll probably be right for Round 1, he likely won’t have any trial games under his belt and struggled with hamstring injuries in 2022.

Bailey Hodgson, Knights, $200,800, FLB/CTW

The fullback spot could be open at the Knights due to Kalyn Ponga’s mooted switch to five-eighth. While Dane Gagai is heavily-backed to score the role, Hodgson is also a leading candidate. He’s at bottom dollar so let’s hope the young Englishman, the nephew of Josh Hodgson, gets a look in.

JAN 19 UPDATE: Lachlan Miller’s likely move from Cronulla to Newcastle could mean Hodgson once again misses out on the fullback role.

Soni Luke, Panthers, $234,800, HOK

Mitch Kenny, Panthers, $310,200, HOK

The hooking spot at the Panthers is a position of extreme interest for KFC SuperCoach. The exit of Apisai Koroisau to the Tigers creates 70 minutes of game time in a key spine spot in one of the best attacking teams in the competition. Kenny is the favourite, but costs slightly more than Luke. Bench hookers are proven KFC SuperCoach poison so whoever gets the bench spot is a definite avoid, but the starter will be very hard to leave out.

Stefano Utoikamanu, Tigers, $319,200, FRF

Started last season as one of the more popular props after averaging 52 for 2021, which increased to the mid-60s over the back half of the year. Injury ruined his 2022 and he managed just nine games at 33 minutes per match, meaning he starts in borderline cheapie range. It’s a very good price for one of the most hyped young props in the game. Scores at a PPM over one for his career, which is very handy for a prop.

Tommy Talau, Wests Tigers, $301,600, CTW

There are backline jobs up for grabs at the Tigers and Talau is right in the mix. Talau played 22 games in 2021 (scoring 11 tries and averaging 41PPG) but an ACL injury meant he missed the entire 2022 season. Available for a tiny bit more than $300K if Talau makes the round one team he profiles as a good buy.

Tyrell Sloan, Dragons, $298,600, CTW/FLB

Sloan came into last season as a much-vaunted young gun, but didn’t last long in the top side, losing his spot to Cody Ramsey. But with Ramsey in doubt for 2023 due to an illness called ulcerative colitis, Sloan is a genuine chance to start in the No. 1 jersey for 2023. Sloan is one of the more talented youngsters coming through the NRL and starts cheap after stints on the bench last season. In the five games Sloan started at fullback in 2021 he averaged 64PPG. He’s not a huge worker what with a slight frame and lacking the endurance fitness of the elite fullbacks in the competition, but for less than $300K any starting fullback is a must especially when you can stash them in your centres.

Spencer Leniu, Panthers, $308,500, FRF

A PPM machine, Leniu has averaged 1.21, 1.24 and 1.26 points per minute in his past three seasons. All this young forward needs is more time on ground to be both a cash cow and a low end weekly play. So far the Panthers have restricted Leniu’s minutes giving his body time to mature, but this could be the year they let him off the leash, and if that happens then snap him up.

Ben Murdoch-Masila, Dragons, $234,800, FRF/2RF

A string of injuries meant BMM barely got a look in at the Warriors last season, averaging just 25 minutes for 19 points per game. He therefore starts close to bottom dollar and theoretically should improve his game time considerably at the Dragons, who have lost plenty of forwards in Josh McGuire, Tariq Sims, Daniel Alvaro, George Burgess, Poasa Faamausili, Jackson Ford and Jack Gosiewski. Murdoch-Masila averaged 41 points in 41 minutes in 2021, so there is considerable room for improvement.

Reimis Smith, Storm, $316,800, CTW

Missed much of last season with a pectoral injury, playing just nine games, and therefore starts at a reasonable price. He averaged just 30 for the year, but has significant upside given he averaged 51 the season before and plays for arguably the best attacking team in the competition.

Krystian Mapapalangi, Knights, $309,600, CTW

Plenty of pundits are backing the 20-year-old to play bulk NRL this season. He could even sneak into the Newcastle top 17 for round one with Edrick Lee and Tex Hoy having left the club. It’s hard to know where he will fit into the equation long term if Kalyn Ponga is playing five-eighth and Bradman Best and Dane Gagai are in the centres. But what we do know is Mapapalangi has played two NRL games so far and they won’t be his last.

J’maine Hopgood, Eels, $298,800, 2RF

Toni Mataele, Eels, $200,800, 2RF

Matt Doorey, Eels, $234,800, 2RF

The departures of Isaiah Papali’I and Marata Niukore open forward spots at the Eels. Hopgood should score a bench spot at the very least, and may even start in the No. 13. Mataele is the bolter. He has represented NSW through the grades, to potentially challenge new recruits Jack Murchie (out of cheapie range) and Matt Doorey for an NRL call-up at some point in 2023. Powerfully built and can play middle or edge, the fact the club brought him back after a brief stint at Newcastle tells you they obviously rate him as a future first grader.

Josh Schuster, Sea Eagles, $241,200, 2RF/5-8

The most popular player in KFC SuperCoach 2023. The exit of Kieran Foran (Titans) opens the door for Schuster to become a full time five-eighth at the Sea Eagles. Schuster played mostly as a bench utility last year as he battled fitness issues, averaging just 43 minutes for the season. He therefore starts very cheap, but should up his game time to 80 minutes every match in the playmaking hot spot.

Jack Howarth, Storm, $200,800, 2RF/CTW

Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi have left for the Dolphins and leave big openings on both Storm edges. Young gun Howarth definitely jumps up the pecking order, but it’s hard to see him in the final 17 ahead of Tariq Sims, Eliesa Katoa and Trent Loiero. Pass for now but one to keep an eye on for mid-season. Handy dual positioning.

Paul Alamoti, Bulldogs, $200,800, CTW

Backline spots are open at the Bulldogs following the losses of Corey Allan (Roosters), Matt Dufty (Warrington Wolves), Brent Naden (Tigers) and Aaron Schoupp (Titans). Alamoti is considered the brightest backline prospect at the club and could sneak in for a centre spot.

Valynce Te Whare, Dolphins, $200,800, CTW

The make-up of the Dolphins’ inaugural side is completely up in the air and the hulking New Zealand winger/centre could sneak into a top 17 spot at bottom dollar. Standout in the Queensland Cup last season and likened to Konrad Hurrell.

Isaiya Katoa, Dolphins, $216,100, HFB/5-8

While Anthony Milford and Sean O’Sullivan are seemingly locked in as the Dolphins’ halves, young gun Katoa is a genuine chance to earn a spot at some stage this season. Keep him up your sleeve as a bye round cheapie.

Ray Stone, Dolphins, $246,900, 2RF/HOK

Basically every spot in the inaugural Dolphins’ side is up for grabs and they therefore promise to be a KFC SuperCoach gold mine. Former Parramatta utility Stone is heavily backed to score a starting lock spot at a cheapie price following an ACL injury.

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Luke Metcalf, Warriors, $250,400, 5/8

The Warriors signed Metcalf all the way back in November 2021 and then spent a fair bit of 2022 sending requests to the Sharks to please, pretty please – with sugar on top – release the playmaker early. Cronulla declined and so apart from an 18 minute cameo run in round 25 (in which he scored 34 points) it was the Jets who enjoyed Metcalf’s services in 2022. In 13 games Metcalf scored 14 tries, assisted six more, kicked 30 goals and averaged 85 metres per game with ball in hand. Metcalf’s game would complement Shaun Johnson nicely so cheapie hunters are hoping he beats Te Maire Martin to the job.

BORDERLINE CHEAPIES

Izaac Thompson, Rabbitohs, $336,700, CTW

The NSW Cup tryscoring machine was solid in two NRL games last year and appears set to start the season on the wing for the Rabbitohs given the absence of Taane Milne (suspended).

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Warriors, $327,100, FLB//CTW

Another who saw plenty of bench time last year, averaging just 58 minutes a game at the Raiders. But he’s set to start at fullback for new club the Warriors, so expect him to play 80 minutes every week in 2023. Handy dual position flexibility between fullback and centre/wing.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Dolphins, $330,200, CTW/FLB

Spent much of last year as a bench utility at the Cowboys, averaging 54 minutes per game. But should be back to 80 minutes this season at new club the Dolphins, likely in a KFC SuperCoach hotspot at fullback. Dual position flexibility between fullback and centre/wing.

Originally published as KFC SuperCoach Cheapie Bible: Rookies and bargains to target for 2023 season

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