Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (WFB): NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

The cheap WFB answer?

Finally returning home to the promised land, CNK as he is affectionately known by the Fantasy community becomes the front runner for the fullback jersey vacated by Reece Walsh. So what can we expect from one of our fan favourites?

Charnze has been hampered by injuries and positional challenges the last two years, only getting through 70+ minutes on 10 occasions, which I guess needs to be the first tick in the negative column. In 2021, Charnze suffered an injury to his neck which caused him to miss the rest of the season, and then a Hamstring derailed his 2022 season prior to eventually losing his job to rising star Xavier Savage.

The good news for Fantasy managers is that Charnze threw up 6 performances of less than 70 minutes in 2022, both at fullback and off the interchange, which means that his price is drastically reduced to start 2023. His price roughly translates to a BE of 25, so lets see how that compares to his 70+ minute fullback career starts courtesy of RL Fantasy Pro. All stats have been translated to current scoring (not available on other sites).

FANTASY AVG.37.840.63730.838
BASE TOTAL24.928.826.622.226.2
RUN METRES171196195147180
ATTACK TOTAL17.215.41514.216.1
TRY RATE44%39%20%40%40%

As we can see, the biggest change in his 2022 numbers was a drastic decrease in his run metres. This seems to have no correlation to ladder finishing position, as he posted almost identical run and tackle bust numbers between 2020 (5th) and 2021 (10th). We also see a massive drop off in tackle busts in 2022, despite the Raiders being a top 8 side in 2022.

Curiously, we see only 1 tackle bust in the first 4 matches of 2022 (none in rounds 2-4) despite scoring 2 tries in the first 3 matches, before posting 3 against the Storm in round 5. Yes, he did register none in round 6 prior to being pulled with 14 minutes to go, but this was really the beginning of the end for CNK. On his return from his absence in round 8, he posted 9 tackle busts in his final 4 matches at an average of 1 every 18 minutes (projects out to 4.4 per game), compared to the first 7 rounds where it was 1 every 120 minutes (1.5 matches). Yes, he did average only 40.5 minutes per game in those last 4 matches, so we should apply a reduction because less mins typically = more effort, but it shows a lot more intent and trust in his body.

Similarly, with the run metres, Charnze averaged 1.75 run metres per minute in the opening 7 rounds (projects out to 140 per game) in the opening 7 rounds, and 2.2 run metres per minute from round 9 onwards (projects out to 176 per game). This is massively important for Fantasy, as for fullbacks – run metres and tackle busts are 2 of their biggest stats.

Personally, it is my belief that Charnze may have been harbouring concerns about his neck injury in 2021 (similar to a player returning from ACL, Achilles, etc) where he may have been running a little more cautiously, generating less power and metres, and tackle busts in turn. As his confidence grew, Charnze returned to his running, tackle busting best which shows in the numbers.

Where Charnze has shown some improvement is in his try assist game, which was notoriously weak in 2019 (12%) and 2020 (14%), particularly given the Raiders ladder position at the time. In 2020, CNK went 8 rounds before registering his first try assist, despite facing teams like the Titans, Warriors, Knights and Tigers. In the 16 matches across 2021/22 (even the ones where he didn’t complete the 80) he registered try assists at 19%. This is nothing special compared to some, but it shows development not regression.

In short, as we would expect from a young player who has grown into a role, he has learned more of his craft, setting up opportunities for his team mates while maintaining his own output. He was likely psychologically hampered by injury early in 2022, before growing into his role but unfortunately being beaten out by a newer, shinier model.

We expect Charnze to get a new lease on life at the Warriors in 2023, likely replicating his “career average” stats, where we can call it a wash between the regression in attack we are likely to see from a worse team in the Warriors, and the poor output in 2022 early matches. The Warriors coming 15th last year didn’t stop Walsh from putting up over 20 points in attack per game and a 50% try assist rate, we only need Charnze to get 75% of that.

The other real benefit to Charnze is his “safe floor” as far as non-elite fullbacks go, with a 94% career rate (full games) of scoring at least 20 points, and a 70% rate of scoring 30+ points. This basically means for cash generation purposes he is unlikely to be throwing you up a 10 point match and ruining his price rises. The downside would be that he is fairly low upside, with only about 7.5% of matches going above 60 and that is about his ceiling.

In short, you can pencil Charnze in for a fairly safe 10 points of value as a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of WFB, where you will see a lot of 25-49 type scores, with the very occasional big score or sub 20 score. From a 25 BE, this is all we need here. Feel free to start with all 3 spine members (Johnson, TMM and CNK), and move 1 or 2 of them on (pending number of red dots) prior to the Round 12 bye. It is important to remember they will be important green dots in round 13, so if you can hold them until after this and sell in rounds 14-16 before the bye week that would be the ideal play.

VERDICT: BUY (and ok to put in WFB)



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