Once the season proper starts I will be looking at each team and some of their key players as we get closer to the start of the silly season – the bye rounds and I’ll use “Dream Team Pro” so at least their will be a bit more information and statistics than last year.

Every year round 9 has a huge impact on coaches with ½ the NRL clubs (8) having their first bye round.  No doubt everyone has had a good look at bye rounds when developing a strategy for the 2011 campaign and finalising your 25-man squad before the round 1 kick of on March 11. 

There is no point in talking about individual players before there is some form on the board so I’ll just point out a couple of other things for the newer coaches to Dream Team that you will need to take into consideration when finalising on your squad. 

With 30 trades for the season and a maximum of 2 trades per round, developing a good strategy and getting the balance and makeup of your squad right at the start is critical if you want to be competitive throughout the season.   There is a lot to take into consideration when developing your stategy – is winning your league title the goal, having a crack at the car or winning the Eliminator. 

The 2011 bye round draw is slightly different to last years draw.  The Roosters for example have their byes in rounds 9 and 15, last year it was rounds 11 and 15.  The Warriors have their byes in rounds 12 and 17, last year it was rounds 9 and 15. 

Last year there was an advantage having a few players from the Knights who had their first bye in round 12 and the Dragons who had their first bye in round 14.  In 2011, the team that has an advantage for Dream Team Coaches is the Raiders with their two byes coming in rounds 12 with the Warriors and 15 with the Roosters. 

The round 9 bye will see some of Dream Teams’ biggest performers – Stagg (Bulldogs), Gallen (Sharks), Gidley (Knights), Hindmarsh (Eels), Lewis (Panthers), Luke (Rabbitohs), Carney (Roosters) and Farah (Tigers) – out of action.  Having a few extra Raiders in those key positions could limit the impact of the round 9 bye if you can find the right players at the right price.  

Get the strategy, balance and makeup of your squad right before round 1 and you’ll have the trades and money left at the back end of the season to have a chance at achieving success in 2011.  Get it wrong, well “you have no excuses.”