The forgotten dual forward
With a very limited amount of EDG/MID dual players, young Nat Butcher becomes slightly more valuable, particularly given the full preseason in the position given the injury to Sitili Tupouniua. Is there enough to make him relevant?
Looking at his year by year, Butcher played his first games on the Roosters edge in 2018 at 21 years old, pushing out three performances for a 39 average. He stepped up again in 2019 for two more matches, but punched out a 62 average with a 9 point increase in base stats. In 2020, Butcher equalled his past two seasons with five edge performances at 55.6.
The five matches in 2021 yielded less points, only managing a (tryless) 47 points. The 2022 season just gone was the only year he managed to get a long stint, and he made the most of it, punching out a 55+ average in 14 matches at a 60%+ try rate. All up, it looks like this…
So pretty clearly, what we can see here is a young player making their debut in 2018, and then 2019 onward we see a fairly consistent track record of success. All up between regular season and finals from 2019-2022 inclusive, it gives us a 24 game sample at 79 minutes for 53.5 points, with 49.6 in base. Even if we remove the game in 2022 with 4 tries for 90 points, we still finish with a 51.9 average.
The other interesting point we find is this – in the 2022 sample we see 9/12 (75%) of his games were against teams that would go on to play finals football. Typically, players perform better against bad teams, so this would have more than likely weighted into some extra attacking stats – Butcher averaged 17 points per game in attacking stats against the 3x teams that didn’t make finals.
Personally, I believe that the Roosters will make Butcher their permanent edge back rower, and have Tupouniua play a role of the bench on his return. This makes Butcher a really interesting option, particularly for H2H players, as Butcher should be available for the entire season of H2H matches outside his round 4 bye (the Roosters play their other two H2H matches in major bye rounds 13 and 19).
For the overall coaches, you can probably find a selection that plays more games than Butcher early, and then look to grab him in Round 14 if he isn’t too expensive and still takes your fancy. He is probably in the Frizell tier, but more expensive and with dual.
VERDICT: BUY (but not essential)