NRL Supercoach Winner Discusses the Fantasy Sports Industry in Australia

NRL Supercoach Winner Discusses the Fantasy Sports Industry in Australia

Wilfred, the 2016 overall NRL Supercoach winner, discusses his road to the overall prize, all things fantasy sport & where he sees the industry heading in the future. Hope you enjoy the interview and check out his podcast here!

Tell us about your background

I’m based on the south side of Brisbane and have been here almost my whole life. Studied law/commerce at uni after thinking I was going to end up doing something science-related in high school. I tried to major in accounting but it bored me to tears, so in the end I finished with a basic commerce degree and moved into law. I quickly specialised in family law after trying a few different areas out, and I’ve since moved into being a full-time family law mediator after six years as a family lawyer.

When did you first get involved with fantasy sport? Which sports did you try out?

I’ve been a league fan for ages, and supported the Broncos almost by default since I grew up in Brisbane. I ended up being introduced to NRL SuperCoach by a workmate, and started off just playing casually in a head-to-head league back in 2010. I mucked around for a few years just playing head-to-head but found myself slowly being drawn in, and got better and better at the game. By 2014 I had started to win H2H leagues and I turned my attention to the Classic/Overall game. It was around this time that I also found the NRL SuperCoach Talk website which is a great independent NRL SuperCoach resource.

I didn’t really try out any other fantasy sports as league was my main sporting interest, despite me being a tennis player through highschool etc (and there wasn’t a fantasy sports game about tennis as far as I was aware!).

In the past three years I’ve branched out and gotten into NFL fantasy, which has been extremely enjoyable and has really opened my eyes to how professionally the US fantasy sports market is, and how far we’ve got to go in Australia (and also the opportunities that we have too!).

You won the overall prize in 2016. How were you going throughout the year? Was it a nervous last round?

I got off to a fairly quick start in 2016, and actually hit the lead about Round 8 or so before losing it for a few rounds. I reclaimed the lead in Round 12 and held out until the end (Round 26). I went into the final round with a nice buffer of 155 points, so I wasn’t too stressed, but of course you’re still going to worry about each player you have. I had the added distraction of my wife going into labour with my youngest son on the Sunday afternoon as well (which meant I saw the last game in the hospital)!

Tell us about the journey since then. What opportunities have you taken up in the industry since?

All the overall winners are generally offered an opportunity to write articles for Newscorp/The Daily Telegraph (who run the SuperCoach competition) so I took up that opportunity. I explored various other options around this time, writing for a few different sites (including a weekly article for NRL SuperCoach Talk which I still do) and I also contributed to the NRL SuperCoach Talk Mega Guide which they did annually in the preseason. I also made multiple on various SuperCoach podcasts after winning, and have been semi-regular on some podcasts each year since then.

In 2019, I also started a NRL SuperCoach podcast called ‘NRL SuperCoach Champions’ in which I partnered up with the 2018 NRL SuperCoach overall winner (Guy Feeney a.k.a. Bear) and we appear to have built up a fairly regular group of listeners. We also launched a Patreon for exclusive content and access and we deliver extra episodes, and have our own little community of ‘Champs’.

I feel we are on the verge of someone taking the next step in the NRL fantasy sports landscape though; hoping it can be involving me!

Have you tried your hand at daily fantasy sports? What are your thoughts on it?

It took a little time but I definitely got into playing DFS with some now defunct-platforms like Sports Fantasy Pro and others, as well as the bigger players in Moneyball and DraftStars. I think it’s another great way to grow the fantasy sports scene in Australia and I see so much more potential for growth as well. I think I don’t do too badly, despite my lack of actual research for DFS purposes (I still don’t know exactly how the games are scored and pick teams off the back of my SuperCoach knowledge – but I’ve still made a decent chunk of change in the last two and a bit years in particular!)

What are some of your favourite resources to help with building your team

I love to dig into stats and aside from the official NRL SuperCoach Stats (formerly known as SuperCoach Gold) that is available via the actual game itself, I also spend a lot of time on the NRL SuperCoach Stats website which is an incredible independent resource.

Other than that, I read and listen to a lot of NRL SuperCoach content because I believe in listening to and analysing the research and opinions of others willing to put their thoughts out there – even if it’s often just to see how it compares with my own research, etc. and seeing where the flaws in my/their analysis might be.

Any cool visualisations to show off some of your research for our techie fans

Sorry to disappoint but I’m really not that tech-savvy, nor am I that good with the numbers! I love my stats but I’ll use the above websites, or just basic excel spreadsheets to help; heck, sometimes I’m just scribbling with pen and paper and using my calculator! There are some incredible resources out there that are far more advanced for my liking; but I get the feeling I’m going to need to step up my game soon to keep up.

What have you noticed about the evolution of fantasy sports in Australia over the last few years

It has definitely become more competitive as more people are taking it more and more seriously, and the availability of data has increased. People are researching more and as more podcasts, websites, etc. become available, the more competitive the landscape which is great news. I feel we are on the verge of someone taking the next step in the NRL fantasy sports landscape though; hoping it can be involving me!

What would you like to do in the future? Do you think a full-time career in fantasy sports is sustainable or will it most likely remain a hobby?

A full-time career in fantasy sports is probably a number of years away in Australia but I remain optimistic, I think it could happen one day if we keep growing. It needs support from the official sporting bodies however, and it’s one area that the NRL really should put some money into (just look how NFL fantasy exploded in popularity and how much it is a part of their sport now). Do I see being able to have a full-time career in fantasy sports? 100% – I would love to!

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