When we talk about Victor Radley, what typically comes to the forefront of the conversation is his poor discipline, suspensions, and inconsistent play from an NRL Fantasy perspective. That said, with the departure of Isaac Liu and Sam Verrills seemingly locked in a non 80 minute role, the opportunity is there for Radley to play his usual big minutes.
It seems as though between Sam Verrills, Connor Watson and Radley they will cover the 160 minutes between hooker and lock as well as covering backline injuries, allowing the Roosters to play 80 minutes of high octane football. We would expect Verrils to play about 55-60 minutes, with Watson soaking the 20-25 minute balance, and therefore only needing 10-15 minutes per game at lock, with Radley playing the remaining 65-70. Any middle playing those sort of minutes at a price tag of $563K in this economy is worth a look, so here we are with our in depth look at Victor the Inflictor.
Before we look closer at the potential scoring, it is important to note that Radley is often rested when the Roosters go up big given his big minute role. Rotation wise, we would expect Verills to play 25-30 minutes before being subbed off for Watson, with Verrills returning with 25-30 to go to take Radley off. Normally, Radley would then return for Watson with 10-15 to go to finish out the game, but that last 10-15 minutes could be used to give young forwards or Watson extra minutes if the Roosters don’t need Radley. We expect the Roosters to be a top 2 side in 2022, meaning lots of big wins and potential for Radley to be rested. This is why it is irresponsible to look at Radley with the idea that he will play a guaranteed 60 minutes.
Lets have a look at the stats and how they are impacted by the sample sizes:
|40+ MINS||60+ MINS||REASON|
|TRY ASSIST||22.5%||17.5%||MORE TRIES|
|LINE BREAK ASSIST||22.5%||29.5%||CHANCES|
|MISSED TACKLE (MIN)||2.9 (21.2)||3.8 (18.5)||TIRED|
|FANTASY POINTS||48.5 (0.79)||51.9 (0.74)|
Basically what we are looking at here are the Pros and Cons of playing Radley for that additional 10 minutes. In the scenario where Radley plays closer to the 60 minutes, he runs harder, breaks more tackles and sets up about 33% more tries despite playing 10 less minutes. When he plays more minutes, he scores more tries and makes more line breaks, along with a heightened rate of turn over tackles, which is a function of probability spending more time on the field given the variant nature of these statistics.
Further to this, we see Radley missing tackles about 15% more regularly when playing longer minutes (1 every 18.5 mins instead of 1 every 21.2 mins). It is my belief that Trent Robinson, being intelligent coach that he is, will be aware that Radley is much more productive in a real sense for the Roosters in reduced minutes and Watson gives them the perfect option to bring Radley back to 60 minutes (still a lot for a middle) while giving Watson plenty of time on the field and saving Radley for the business end and tight games.
Coming into the season at a break even of 45, we would need to see a 70+ minute guaranteed role for Radley to even make him worth a look. This would mean Watson PLUS another backline utility on the bench, which seems unlikely based on the interview Watson did about his role at the Roosters. I expect Radley to provide a stat line for 2022 which is very similar to the 40+ mins column above, making him an option in drafts but not relevant for classic.
NB: You will note that we have intentionally not mentioned Radleys extensive time spent at the NRL judiciary as an argument against him, because the numbers stand up for themselves without bringing this into the conversation. That said, it should be the final nail in his NRL Fantasy coffin, as Radley remains one of the most suspended players in the NRL.