Goal kicking centre savior?
From Belmore to Broadbeach, Aaron Schoupp looks set to be a fresh face in the Titans backline to begin 2023 after being granted an early release from the Bulldogs in November. With Brian Kelly suspended until round 4 and Patrick Herbert out until mid-season, Schoupp’s position in the backline for round 1 seems almost certain. With one appearance on the wing as well as a 9 minute appearance as an 18th man replacement in round 1, Schoupp finds himself priced at 30 ($435,000) to begin the year and could be the answer in your centres provided the right circumstances.
At face value, Schoupp is hardly the sexiest pick, averaging only 28.2 in his rookie year in 2021 for a wooden spoon Bulldogs side while improving to 32.6 in his centre starts last season. A low to mid 30s average seems the likely scenario for Schoupp in a Titans team that has been very poor defensively but has never been short of points in recent years. The Titans averaged 3.5 tries per game last season compared to only 2.8 per game from the Bulldogs. The wildcard for this Titans side is who takes the goal kicking duties? With Isaako gone, Herbert injured and Sexton likely playing Queensland Cup, there are approximately 5 or 6 points up for grabs that someone has to take.
When Schoupp signed for the Titans in November, Justin Holbrook said “Aaron joins us nice and early in the pre-season, allowing him to put in the hard work to be ready for round one. He’s a centre with good size, a good defensive game and he’s also a goal kicker. They are all things that will be valuable to the squad”. It seems Schoupp’s ability to goal kick was a part of the equation when they chose to sign him but is he any good?
While never being required to kick in first grade, Schoupp did play six 80 minute games at centre in NSW Cup games across 2021 and 2022 in which he kicked in all of them. Across those 6 games Schoupp kicked 18 of 25 at a strike rate of 72%, a rate similar to Nicho Hynes, Matt Burton, Adam Doueihi and 10% better than Toby Sexton. Of course 25 shots at goal is a rather small sample and it’s possible this either improves or drops based on where the Titans are scoring tries.
With Justin Holbrook indicating Tanah Boyd will start the year at halfback, it would seem it is a two horse race for the tee, with Boyd the incumbent certainly the favourite to retain duties. If Schoupp is not kicking to begin the year then we can put a big red line through him and move on. If he was to take the tee to start the year due to injury to Boyd or performance, playing in a better attacking side than what he has in his previous two seasons, I see an expected average for Schoupp in the range of 39-41. That would put him right around 10 points of value and providing solid low end keeper level scores in a position fairly baron in the way of value. Without kicking duties Schoupp offers limited value and is a trap.