MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Corey Oates of the Broncos looks on during the warm-up prior to the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park on September 22, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Positional switches are nothing new in rugby league, with a host of players set to shake up their roles in 2018.

In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Valentine Holmes, Tyrone Peachey, Matt Moylan and more swap the number on their back, with varying degrees of success.

Down in Redfern, a few players look set to switch their roles, with Greg Inglis set to return to the centre role that saw him star in rep sides for a decade, handing the fullback role to Alex Johnston, who finally gets his chance to make the number one his own.

Sam Burgess also looks likely to make a small switch from lock to prop, to allow young gun, Cameron Murray, a spot in the starting thirteen.

Meanwhile in Cronulla, Josh Dugan will finally make a full-time move to the centres after flirting with the switch over the last few seasons. The change could be a masterstroke from Shane Flanagan, with Dugan being a ball-runner as opposed to a ball-player, an essential skill for a fullback.

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Michael Morgan and Jonathan Thurston could swap jerseys, with Morgan’s newfound ownership of the side possibly demanding the number seven jersey.

While there isn’t too much separating the role of a halfback and that of a five-eighth in the modern era, Morgan proved over the finals series that he can be the dominant half, which should only allow Jonathan Thurston a more simplified role in his return to the field.

Garth Brennan has started his career as a first-grade coach boldly, moving his captain Ryan James from the front-row out wider to the back-row, a role he made his own a few seasons ago, but has since starred as a prop.

Corey Oates is risking it all in a shift the forwards this season, despite earmarking himself as one of the best finishers in the NRL. With so many quality second-rowers already roaming in the NRL, the move could well see his rep future indefinitely stalled.

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Sione Mata’utia returns to the centres after an eighteen-month stint in the back-row. While his time spent in the forwards was riddled with multiple concussions, his defence improved tenfold, meaning the former Kangaroo returns to the backline a stronger player than the one that left it.

And arguably the biggest move sees Jarryd Hayne return to the club in an unfamiliar position, the centres, after a failed move to the Gold Coast. Playing in a side infinitely more stable and settled in comparison to the one he departed, Hayne is set to flourish in a simplified role as he searches for the form he left in Parramatta over three years ago.

While a positional switch could make or break a player’s career, 2018 is set to yield some brave moves for the game’s biggest names. Whether they pay off or not, is a question that’ll take a few more months to answer.

44 COMMENTS

  1. How dare the coaches switch positions on players without consulting fans ! 😂😂😂😂😂
    DCE would make an awesome hooker ,

        • Oh goody! That means the angry eagle is next up to bat when Baz is made the scapegoat for Manly’s failures in 2018. So then. once the angry eagle is coach we will finally see DCE at hooker so we can put that whole issue to bed once and for all. Bahahahahahahahahaha

    • MW47 you know my thoughts on DCE to hooker but a positional change for Daly is still on the cards I think and in the near distant future I believe we will see Daly line up in the 6 jersey. He isnt your typical halfback he prefers to run the ball and thats when he is at his best, a move to 6 would give him a little bit more freedom and he is also up for it himself as this year he was willing to give up the 7 jumper for Mitchell Pearce. Obviously didnt pan out as Mitch chose Newcastle but its obvious the club and Daly himself are aware the move to 6 could be a beneficial one.

      • you seem to forget that there is no discernible difference to a 6 or 7 theses days – its more a left half and a right half. The only possible combination in 2018 that play both sides of the field are Norman and Moses but even then majority of the time one is right and one is left..
        So moving DCE to 6 doesn’t achieve anything – however moving him to hooker……..
        Think of JT – does his game change if he plays 6 or 7 – it doesn’t, he does exactly the same thing regardless of the number on his back.
        These days the only positions that retain any semblance of the past are 1-5 in regards to their positioning.
        Talk of locks, back row or props is long gone – they are either left or right edge forward (2nd rower) or a middle forward (prop, lock).

        • I disagree mate, 6 and the 7 are different. Your five-eight is the half that plays on the back of what the 7 does, a 6 is usually more prone the running the ball. The halfback runs the team, doing the majority of the organisation and the more technical stuff. Heres some examples of halves pairings.

          Cronk and Keary
          Thurston and Morgan (Although Morgan has now developed to be able to play that 7 type role)
          Moses and Norman
          Cleary and Maloney
          Townsend and Moylan
          Sezer and Austin
          Taylor and Elgey
          Croft and Munster
          Reynolds and Walker

          All these halves are all considerably different as pairing. The 6 of the pairing will run more often while the 7 is the organiser. Maybe the numbers dont mean much these days but the Five-eight and Halfback are very different.

        • I agree with Holmsey. the best 5/8’s are the running hole runners who have great vision of their outside backs. to put a half and a 5/8 into the exact same category is rubbish. They are two entirely different positions, some players can play both positions equally as good but not many. The best halfbacks give their 5/8 heaps of space to weave his magic

      • Il day it all day , DCE to hooker =masterstroke ! I ran it by Matt Elliot one afternoon whilst taking to the Grandstand team and he said he likes the idea, now no harm giving it a go ? Cmon they put walker at 5/8 for nearly half a season !

        • Heres the reasons why this idea would blow up in the clubs face, not trying to start a fight by the way, hopefully we have all moved on. Anyway here we go.

          Reasons against

          Daly is an Elite halfback of the game one of the best why move him?
          We have a great young hooker in Koroisau who is doing a wonderful job
          Moving Daly to hooker would mean finding a new halfback

          The club does not want to experience those changes as we are doing fine as it is and are currently experience success. And the harm of moving daly to hooker is it would probably backfire destroying the half a season he has the 9, it would be another Walker incident and I never want to see that again.

      • DCE could organise the forwards and run each play , no stress about having to run entire side , he would get any forward pack moving , he also runs nice straight lines so defence either has to move up quickly or be cut to shreds with his forwards close by , not having general kicking duties would take a huge load off him also( long kicking game is still his greatest asset when kicking is concerned) , I’m telling you it would work perfectly, we can blood new halves , our coach was a half ! Think about it any comments that are logical would be appreciated!

        • Can see what you are saying but thats one expenseive 9 when really whats up with who you have.Koroisau goes ok

        • Dce would make a good hooker, just like Micheal Monaghan did when he moved there.
          But we have Koroisau who is untapped in potential, so if we could replace dce with a good half that’s one thing, but I’m not willing to loose api to trial dce there

  2. I’m still not convinced Hayne will line up at Centre, I think there is a better than even chance he will be on the wing to replace Semi.
    Most commentators seem think he will be in centres, however BA has never said that and he has said in publicly that nothing is decided but that that there is a vacancy on the wing now that semi has left. Don’t assume its a fait accompli.

    • And that is why you are 1 of the “wise men”.
      I’m hoping for:
      1. Gutho
      2. Hayne
      3. Taka’s (who will feed Hayne)
      4. Jennings (he seemed more at home on this side, and helps French in defence)
      5. French

      • thankfully there are only 3 wise men in legend and on here eh 😉
        that is how I would want it to pan out – that backline offers a lot of potency as well as a solid defence.
        I see a lot of people calling for Hayne at centre, taka on bench and auvuaa on wing – it doesn’t make sense to me, why restrict your attacking options out wide by playing Hayne at Centre and Auvuaa on wing. A lot forget that Hayne made his mark as a winger at club and rep level and is also a like for like replacement for Semi.
        Auvaa offers nothing but power running – Taka offers a lot more.
        And i have also been ridiculed elsewhere for suggesting that Smith play at 1 until Gutho comes back – so as not to unsettle the combinations and provide a more balanced backline. I wouldn’t to see multiple positional changes like French to FB, Hoffman to Wing, Hayne to Centre with Auvaa outside him. After the progress made last year, that would be a huge step backward.
        Personally I would prefer to see Hoffman back at the GC 😉

        • and i’m not saying that Hayne will play long term at wiong, if he can get back close to his 2014 form, then there is every chance he may find himself back at 1 and Guth to centres…..but that’s a bit like saying I will win lotto next week.

        • As one of the “3 Wise men” I thought I better throw in my 2 cents here.

          I am happy with the suggestion of Taka staying at centre with Hayne on the wing, however I have always been of the opinion that Taka is a backrower filling in at centre. He has done a fine job, but he isn’t a centre. His lateral movement in defence is very poor, he rushes up too much and I just don’t think he is quick enough. The upside, of course, is the delivery he provides to his winger and he creates doubt in the opposition the way that he carries the ball.

          I think he is best suited to 3 in from the sideline (backrow), but my concern there is, if he is not in the centres, does he make the top 17 at all? The starting back row should be Brown, Ma’u and Moeroa I think, and depending on the make up of the bench, I am not sure he fits. I like Smith on the bench, at least 1 prop is needed and BA will probably go with Scott. That leaves Taka and Edwards fighting for the last spot I think. (TBH Smith might struggle to stay in the 17 depending on how our smaller pack goes).

          I may have talked myself into keeping Taka at centre here, just because I think he should be in the team and is too good to be playing for Wenty….

        • And that’s largely how I got to Taka’s holding his centre spot.
          If he wasn’t playing centre I had him on the bench, over Smith, and I didn’t want that either, but Taka’s, along with our flexibility amongst our backs, can cover for an injury and/or be a forth forward. The biggest weakness in that line up would then be at hooker (needing him to play all 80).

        • oh wise ones – that’s also my logic, the balls he can feed to the winger makes it a deadly proposition.
          But think about the other option of Hayne at centre – auvuaa or Hoffman on wing….it weakens the defensive line imho and limits attacking options. Auvaa and Hoffman both struggle under the high ball, auvaa runs hard and powerfully but lacks lateral movement ,he also struggles with reading the play defensively, Hoffman is too small and gets man handled in every carry but doesn’t have the pace to beat the defence.
          So its gotta be that lineup.
          I still think Smith has to be in the 17 most weeks, somewhere. There will be times when the opposition demands 4 fwds on the bench and others not.
          Anyway it a better problem to have than the one we have faced in recent years – who to put in as opposed to who to leave out.

        • Good to see you back billy. It’s no longer Christmas so “the 3 wise men” tag is not going to fly any longer. Let’s face it following headlights on the freeway is more a sign of intoxication that of wisdom. If I keep seeing “the 3 wise men” reference I will have to dust off the original collective title I gave the 3 of you unless you want me to start referring to each of you individually as “Lloyd Christmas, Harry Dunne and Brick Tamland”. Your choice?

      • Glad we all think 1 thing,Hoffman isnt upto it and Kaysa isnt either.Prefer watch them two at Ringrose.I love the way Parra are looking out the back but i cant get past who is going to take Semis hit ups.Semi was exciting into space but i loved how he would take it up first tackle.Parras forward pack is very average with meters.Top 8 at best….

        • This ones to the 3Wise Men.If Parra are under the pump 5 meters out on the sideline who gets the ball?French LOL,Hayne LOL.Gutho LOL.So we pass it to Mannah to run 5 meters an fend.Gets driven back 5 meters an who takes next hit up.Scott surges forward an stops.(at this point moses and norman look at each other) we will go wide as every team knows we will,Hang on we have Edwards on the field give him a run.Edwards runs jigs looks for a short ball an is held in the tackle,hang on Edwards has a hand free and drops it,Brown scoops on the ball an charges at the line.Reff calls it back 20 meters out from the eels line,Newcastles feed

        • I’ll try seeing it as you are, and try to address what I assume is your concern/s.
          My first thought, if we cant break the line, would be to get it to Norman or Mosses for a little dribble kick for someone to run onto, but I assume that’s not your point.
          If your point is we don’t have a big Taumalolo type, then agreed, but we have Brown, Evans, Ma’u, and to a lesser extent Edwards, that all have strength and footwork. I note Edwards dropping it in your example was too easy to visualise.
          If you’re saying our wingers / FB, based on the proposed line up, lack creativity, well I don’t buy that.
          Did any of that answer your question/concerns?

        • Sorry ParraMatt, I completely misread that.
          We are defending our line, not attacking.
          So who can we depend on for our hard runs, and to possibly break the line out of defence? Brown, Evans, Ma’u. I’d be happy to see the ball in any of those hands. Hayne or Taka’s on that edge would be O.K. Alvaro. Not Edwards.

        • I think Moses will take creative control of the Eels attack ParraMatt and Norman will guide the team around and take the lions share of the kicks in general play. Moses has shown that he knows how to sniff out a hole and create an opportunity, Norman needs to stop sniffing period and Hayne needs to focus on a running game in whatever position he finds himself in. Hayne can no longer afford to drift across field and throw no look passes. Hayne has lost speed and acceleration and needs to start playing smart and using his size and strength to take on defenders. The Eels need to use French’s speed with short kicks in behind play or diagonally across field for him to run onto. Gutherson will know how to chime in at FB and exploit a defensive weakness that Moses will target. When that happens either Gutherson or French should be in the clear. As you say ParraMatt, the Eels need to play direct and their forwards have to first lay a platform for the back to build on. If they can’t win control of the middle third with the ball in hand the Eels will go nowhere.

      • No no no

        1: C Gutherson
        2: B French
        3: M Jennings
        4: J Hayne
        5: K Avau’a
        6: C Norman
        7: M Moses

        14: B Takairangi

        That will be the side, Hayne will play centre, with he’s silky hands he’s winger will score a lot of try’s
        Taka is not a centre, he’s way to slow, he got caught out number of times in the finals last year.. he’s better starting from the bench and coming on as a ball playing 2nd rower
        And also he can cover a lot of positions if there’s injury

        • Think that would be best option,can only play the cards you have.To start the year id leave that team and if Gutho is out rd1 id just put Smith in there.Cant see the point fidling around for a week or two.Once Gutho back id imagine depending of who your playing would depend if Smith wears 14 or plays down Ringrose

    • Tuivasa- Shrek wants to play with a strong side, There is no way in the world that he will play for Souffs. He will get big coin for the All Blacks. His league days are numbered

      • Woodchook, looks like Souths are interested and he would be a good signing for us, and regardless of your opinion, he will be joining a strong club/side but the All blacks pose the biggest threat, just hoping that the Warriors haven’t ruined him.

        • I think WoodChook is getting nervous penso.

          1. RTS
          2. Johnston
          3. Inglis
          4. Gagai
          5. Graham/Hunt
          6. Walker
          7. Reynolds

          That would have to be about the best backline in the competition if RTS was to put on the bunny ears! We just need the forwards to hold the ball.

        • South Sydney Till I Die_1970 if the Rabbits sign RTS then they will have to let the Roosters new recruit Crichton come over to the red white and bluesters a year early to fit under the cap mate. Sounds great, I glad Roger has fallen on his sword and admits he made a huge error by leaving the Roosters where he won a comp and three minor premierships to want to come back and play for a strong team again. He realizes now that money is not everything. The only thing is why Souths won’t get him is because he told Nick Politis he loves the Chooks but is heading Home to NZ to be with his family. That’s why he will be playing for the All Blacks next season. His Premiership team mate Sony Bill Williams has outlined to him the easy path to follow for him to become a dual international. South’s fans I’m sorry to be the Rooster to break this news but get it through your heads the Easter bunny is a myth and so is Tuivasa- Shreck wearing green and red, or what you lot think is Myrtle and Cardinal. 🤣✔

        • “then they will have to let the Roosters new recruit Crichton come over to the red white and bluesters a year early to fit under the cap”

          How is it that Souths have no room left under the cap with the roster they have yet the Roosters have a team of rep stars and can afford to sign 2 players for $1 mill each and Crichton just short of that figure in the SAME calendar year? Don’t forgert, Cordner also yet to re-sign and Friend has only just re-signed. Tell me again HOW are the Roosters still be under the cap? Perhaps there will be a trade Crichton for Cordner? I hear he wants out. Interested? I think Souths should be given the same salary cap benefit of the doubt as the Roosters don’t you think? Btw, just know IF we do let “Gus” go a season too soon then we are taking the fingers first, ALL of them! 😉

          About buy into the RTS speculation, don’t worry WoodChook, I have only just taken down the “Welcome to Redfern Cooper” signs that I put up after “the angry eagle” PROMISED me he was coming to the Bunnies. I won’t be making any more signs until the deal is signed and announced and no doubt it is too good to be true. But I can HOPE can’t I WoodChook, or do the Roosters own THAT as well? LOL

          SSTID_1970 January 17, 2018 at 8:51 pm
          By the way Foghorn Leghorn, it must take a considerable effort to peck out “South Sydney Till I Die_1970” on a keyboard, please feel free to call me SSTID (but don’t forget the “I” or “suffer the piñatas fate you shall”).

  3. DCE becoming a “Hooker” doesn’t he make enough money at Manly?

    Could just see him standing on a corner in Darlinghurst Rd 🙂 ROFPMSL!!

  4. Not sold on Oates’ proposed positional shift from the wing to the back row. While his size and go forward is fantastic, his defence is terrible and opposing centres and backrowers will have a field day against him.

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