Poll: The Big Four

Written by Gunboat Diplomacy on February 4 2021

Lisa, insightful regular and top of the SCT Group in 2018, asked whether coaches intend to start “The Big Four” of Lloyd, Neale, Gawn and Grundy in 2021. Last year The Big Four were comfortably the preeminent picks in their respective positions:

Lloyd averaged +14.9 more points than his closest competitor, averaging 122.2 from a full season, only dipping below the ton (100) once and smashing out 130+ 7 times with a high of 157

Neale punished those who didn’t start in 2020 by opening with 157, 171 and 166, going on to play every game and to put 2nd and 3rd in Steele and Oliver away but 200~ total points and +12 points on average for 134.4

Gawn faced issues with injury in a condensed season carrying his team but nevertheless averaged a monstrous, competition high 139.9, cracked 180+ twice and managed to score more total points than every other ruck bar Grundy from only 14 games

Grundy had an off-season in 2020 battling injury and hub grievances but despite being down from two prior years of 130.5, he still played every game at a 120.7 average and only dipped below the ton twice

That’s the good, but now the bad and the ugly: starting the Big Four in 2021 will cost you $2,777,800 with Lloyd at $656.4k, Neale at $721.8k, Gawn at $751.4k and Grundy at $648.2k. I had to double check I added that up correctly, and yes – starting Lloyd, Neale, Gawn and Grundy will require more than a quarter of your starting salary cap. Grundy’s priced similarly to previous years, however over 650k for a DEF is the most I’ve seen in a while and 700k+ for any player always make coaches gulp.

With all that in mind:

Are you starting the Big Four?

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Lisa laid out the binary associated with starting or omitting The Big Four really succinctly, specifically asking:

By [starting The Big Four], it equates to having only 12 premiums (with a premium in this instance being a $500k plus player). Pondering the dilemma – does the option of being able to start with 2 or 3 extra premiums by NOT starting with them, outweigh NOT having them and the scores we hope they will score?”.




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28 thoughts on “Poll: The Big Four”

  1. Think I’ll be looking at starting 2 or 3 of them at this stage. Interesting to see how people would rank them at this stage in order of most likely to start in their team to least likely. I’ll give it a go;

    1. Gawn
    2. Grundy
    3. Lloyd
    4. Neale


    1. I will be starting either 3 or 4 of them.

      The thing we should always look for is value in supercoach, as being priced to known performance gets everyone the same outcome, barring a lottery on rookies.

      But we need at least 2 or 3 viable captain/vice captain options too.

      At the moment there looks to be better value alternatives in the ruck than there is in the backline or midfield.


    2. I’d almost completely reverse your list based on durability, reliability and changes to team during the trade period.

      1. Neale
      2. Lloyd


    3. ATM, Neale, Lloyd, Gawn, Grundy…….no wait,… Neale, Gawn, Lloyd, Grundy ……nah……..Neale,…um…..ahhhhh…..um…..ohh, ask me again March 9………


      1. Yeah, you could just about put Lloyd and Gawn equal second, because of the potential for Gawn to get big scores as captain/vice captain, but you know that Lloyd will likely play 2-3 games more than Gawn in the season and score more points overall.

        If I’d blown my VC choice I’d take a good look at both for Captain though. Lloyd’s first rusty game of the season was the only time he went below 100, which is a nice level of security to have.

        Gawn 2019-20 however has been very reliable too. You wouldn’t put your last chance Captain on 2017 or earlier Gawn though.

        After the first roll of the dice you’re looking for a safe 110-130.

        That later games guarantee and “Lloyd as reliable backup for captain” we’ve pretty much had with Sydney playing a lot of Sunday games is still there in 2021.

        Just not in the early part of the fixture. That might make for an opportunity for people to get on Lloyd later and take advantage of the fixture in their upgrades.


  2. I’m starting with a core of Lloyd, Neale, Gawn, Grundy, Treacy and Marshall. They’re non-negotiable in my team unless a pre-season injury hits. I know it’s a lot of coin, but I think they’re the players I’m most likely to regret not having in my team if I leave them out.


    1. Agreed Chillo.

      Also there’s a question of how you will bring them in if you don’t start them. I’m sure Gawn/Lloyd in particular will lose some value at some stage but you’re still looking at $600k+ to bring them which requires a hell of a lot of cash generation.


      1. DD,
        To compensate, try and have a majority of high class premiums with byes in the other rounds…….Subconsciously, I think that’s what we’re all trying (hoping) to do, but we are struggling to find the right combinations.


  3. Great question, Lisa. Like I said above, you’ve laid it out painfully well lol.

    For me, I’m starting them. It’s reductive but “you get what you pay for”. The four of them are just a cut above and starting them allows you to absorb the swings of SC with that solid foundation.

    Eg. I started the four of them plus Macrae last year and, even after all the stupid sh*t I pulled (recruits Jack Martin, Ryder and Hurn & Fyfe IN then injured the following week), having those five as consistent C options allowed me to still hold around 2k OA. Had the highest available C scores each week with Neale and Gawn for the first 8 rounds pretty much.

    That said, I’m finding it impossible to get a 13 premo starting side together with The Big Four and the expected top shelf rookies. So, while I’m starting them, I completely get why you’re apprehensive. Rolling with 12 keepers or a dicey budget at F3/D3 is daunting come Round 1.

    Think I’ll stick with them though, argh – they’re just too f*cking good. Hopefully not all of these 180k~ rookies debut this year lol.


  4. By way of contrast:

    12 premo’s means you need to trade in 10 premos and have 17-18 cash cows but you have to chase down less big pricey premos

    14 premos means you need to trade in 8 premos with only 15-16 cash cows and you’ll have to chase more big pricey premos.

    Harbour Heroes has articulated elsewhere that rookie scarcity is also a problem, and the more rookies you need the more you expose yourself to this problem.


    1. The problem there is relying on 18 rookies. Some of them will fail and need to be moved on for far less than 150k.

      The principle of cashing out two rookies for a premo and a replacement rookie, and a $150k gain per rookie is virtually canon here, but IT ISN’T QUITE TRUE.

      = $273,900*2

      Take another $123,900 out for a cash generating rookie or even a 50 point per game backup you only have just over $420k.

      Few fallen premiums fall THAT low and then show enough signs of recovery.

      And few rookies make $150k, and even fewer before they have their bye.

      So the conversion rate is closer to 3 rookies to a premo.

      30 trades, 10 upgrades needed, and 30 trades to do it? You need a great run of injuries and ALL of the best rookies in your starting 18 rookies.

      It’s a very big ask, statistically. Like winning the lotto.


        1. Exactly.

          To get the magical $150k before the byes figure you need a lot of $117k and $102k rookies who play pretty much every game and average 60, or $123k rookies who average 70.

          This was possible, nay easy, in the expansion club era. Back then it literally was the only way to win

          We were still ensured of it for a few more years until CD changed the pricing gor the top 20 draft picks.

          Since then it’s more difficult and the rpokie to premo exchange rate is higher.


  5. I am an every-year Gawn & Grundy lock kinda guy.

    Im also a ‘Bring in Lloyd later in the season for more than he started for or nearly even’ kinda guy so I think I will have all 3 of them this year.

    Neale I think I will have to save on for now and pickup as an upgrade.

    6 weeks to go, you can smell it!


  6. Anyone see ‘The Queen’s Gambit” ?? I’m answering this question and putting my answer in a sealed envelope till round 23 !!
    The great Allsaints would be all over this, particularly with the theory of how much each trade effectively costs. Leaving any of these four out is likely to cost two trades to get them in. The r14 bye is a horror in the rucks to add to the dilemma. Also, because of covid, JLT is only one round. so we will be less informed re rookies.
    I am leaning to starting only one of Grawn..probably Gawn as Grundy should be easier to bring in later, and Gawn has the late game in all but round 1 of the first six weeks…perfect c loop fall back. Marshall will be up fwd for cover.


  7. Try this for a moment…….

    1 = best, 2 = second best, 3 = third…..etc…,
    1 cost 400k, 2 cost 300k, 3 cost 200k and 4 cost 100k,
    You only have 500k, and must pick 2, (yes, and spend the whole 500)
    So….the obvious is …..1 + 4 = 2 + 3….right!…
    Where is this leading you ask????
    Ok,…..What made them 1,2,3,4???
    Let’s add that to my ramblings……..
    1 = 120, 2 = 110, 3 = 100, 4 = 90.
    So,…..120 + 90 = 110 + 100, right?….(tap..tap…tap….etc) Right!!
    …….and where is this going you again ask???
    Well…….TO YOUR CAPT…….
    120c/240 + 90 IS GREATER THAN 110c/220 + 100 !!!…..ok, not by much, but this is a theory exam,
    So……Finally….(how many of you looked up then?)…..the old saying, “It takes money to make money” translates in SCT logic language, “It takes money to make POINTS”
    So….March 9, study your premiums, and sift through their positioning on field, for then when we all go over/ through the stats together we can then show ”SCT RULES”.
    Well that’s our aim isn’t it????? There were 9 spots missed last year in the best 10.


      1. What are you doing with an abacus in a wine cellar? LOL

        Ps You spelt your SC team name with a “J” in it……


        1. Its to keep count of the wine consumed…after two bottles it becomes a blur so its easier to move just one marker on the abacus !!

          Thanks for that…fixed.


    1. Yes, to your basic maths example.

      Except most of us will at least be taking one of Gawn or Neale for captain each week.

      So it’s more like:
      139 x 2 + whatever versus 135 x 2 + whatever. Oh no. You’re down 4 points because you chose to captain one versus the other, or if you shockingly left out Gawn for Grundy, who only got 130 this week you might be down 18 points. 9 x 2 = 18

      Big deal.

      But what did that say extra $103k for going Grundy instead of Gawn get you? Did it get you Jamar Ugle-Hagan who’s pumping out 80 ppg instead of Finlay Macrae who hasn’t been named since Round 2?

      This is where the value bit becomes highly relevant.

      The debate isn’t about the x 2 bit, when you’re talking about buying all 4 of the big guns versus only buying 3 of them.

      It’s about the fact that you really only need 2 captains (a c and a vc) except for the like once a year when they play each other, when a third option is necessary. This means that you’re paying basically a premium price for any captain options you’re unlikely to use, at a risk of missing value opportunities, and at a miss of overpaying for a player based on past performance (you know, like all those superannuation ads warn you about).

      Chasing last year’s points is every bit as real as chasing last week’s points.

      What having the 4 big guns gives you is greater flexibilty in your captaincy options due to fixturing pressures. It doesn’t really give you much more score, just a better opportunity to loophole to take advantage of (or avoid) freak scores.


      1. Good points there. I don’t believe many people ever use Lloyd as a captaincy option so he might be the one you leave out of those four.


        1. Lloyd is a good back up option because Sydney still play so many games on Sunday.

          He certainly wouldn’t be in your first two choices most of the time, unless there is a timing clash with Gawn or Neale so you can’t run them in vc/c combo.


  8. Lloyd and Neale for me. Marshall and ROB for my rucks. At what stage does Max fall over the over side of the hill, and start to decline? I’m happy to take the risk.


    1. If he cops an injury you’ll probably be ahead of more than 50% of teams. It may not be a winning strategy, but straight up it gives you a huge jump if that does happen, especially if people have gone captain on him and he goes down injured early, but after say cheap options like Draper and Preuss shave gone up significantly.

      On such risks supercoach seasons are won or lost.

      Best of luck.


  9. Thanks for the Poll Lisa.

    I’m starting all four.

    I’m also starting Laird D2 and Marshall F2.

    I think they both have great upside. Laird with his Mid role and Marshall could easily start spending greater periods in the Ruck.
    His Dpp alone is worth picking him.They may prove as important as the Big 4.

    If I just had to leave one of the big four out ..
    It would be Seagull lloyd.
    There is such a riches of Defenders this year nearly all of them save you $100K+
    Whitfield is $95K cheaper and averaged 104 last year. This is with 8 in round 3. Bring his true average to more like 110.
    I think with the longer quarters, he has the most upside and may average 112+ Fighting Laird and Ryan for the top D 2/4 spots.

    I still think for durability and reliability, you can’t top starting The Seagull at D1.



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