Kurt Mann holds a special place in the hearts of the Amateurs as one of our first big calls when we correctly predicted in 2020 Mann would average more than Blayke Brailey for 50k less, despite Brailey’s high ownership. After a year of being shuffled around the backline, Mann finds himself being potentially fantasy relevant again in 2022 priced at 472k with a break even of 38. A shift into the middle to occupy Connor Watson’s old role is seemingly likely and now he may find himself in hooker relief duty following the injury to club captain Jayden Brailey (for our full thoughts on who fills the hooker role and the fantasy implications, click here).
The Brailey injury makes Mann’s role a lot more uncertain and harder to project for, however all of the potential outcomes are either positive or at worst neutral for Mann. Our original thoughts were he’d be used in a role similar to Connor Watson last year, likely starting on the bench and soaking about 45-55mins at lock while also being the backline injury cover making him a borderline buy depending how many minutes you’d think he would take. Now with the void left at hooker we are left with quite a few different possibilities for his role so let’s take a look at the best and worst case scenarios:
(All historical averages mentioned adjusted for 2022 scoring)
A) In the best possible timeline Mann becomes the sole 80min hooker making him an absolute must. Mann had 7 starts at hooker in 2020 and put up an impressive 53pts in 75mins at a very handy 0.71ppm. If 2020 repeats then he’s likely a keeper half. Even if they opt to not play him the full 80mins, anything north of 62mins would make him a reliable cash cow. SCENARIO RATING: PLAUSIBLE
B) In the worst possible timeline Mann’s predicted role doesn’t change and he’s used at lock in a 45 to 50min role. This scenario would likely see Randall at hooker with potentially Clune on the bench to spell him. We don’t have any clean historical data on Mann in the middle as outside of his hooker stints the only other times he has spent at lock were either limited minutes off the bench or shifting from 5/8 late in a game. That said I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe Mann will have a similar 0.9 to 0.95ppm to Connor Watson as he’s also a tackle busting ball runner who throws the occasional offload. Mann has averaged 3 tackle busts per game for the past two seasons regardless of position (5/8, Centre, Hooker or Fullback) and I don’t think this would change significantly given his play style and likely ball playing opportunities. This would likely see Mann average in the mid-40s and be a borderline buy with 6 to 7 points of value. SCENARIO RATING: UNLIKELY
C) What I think is the most likely scenario, Mann will split time at hooker and lock and play about 55mins per game. In this scenario he would start on the bench before relieving a middle forward at around the 25min mark, play the next 30-35mins at lock before shifting to hooker for the final 20-25mins. In this role we’d have Mann at an expected average from 45 to 49 based on the previously mentioned positional ppm’s. This would see about 7 to 11 points of value which isn’t that much more than scenario B but to me the key difference is you can take much more confidence in Mann’s weekly minutes knowing he isn’t required to take a huge chunk from the forwards with a guaranteed spell at hooker. SCENARIO RATING: LIKELY
I expect we’ll get a lot more information trickling out between now and round 1 about what the Knights intend to do. There’s plenty of slight variations to each scenario that could also occur but if we do indeed get scenario A, C or a slight variation there of, then I’ll more than likely be jumping on board the Mann train once again (Choo Choo).