No need to dwell on the gut-wrenching mistakes of my World Cup fantasy campaign. I am completely over picking Max Malins over five-try Henry Arundell for England’s thumping win over Chile. Plumping for Shannon Frizell, who copped an early yellow card, instead of Ardie Savea ahead of the final? Totally forgotten.
A new Six Nations brings with it another official fantasy game, which is slightly different from the one that had me tearing my hair out in France. Why, oh why did I captain Matthieu Jalibert instead of Damian Penaud for the hosts’ defeat of Namibia? Never mind, here are some tips for the Six Nations.
How to select players
Users are given a budget of 240 stars to pick a starting line-up from all six squads. The most expensive players, James Lowe and Damian Penaud, cost 20 stars, and all of them have been categorised by position. You need three back three players, two centres, a fly-half and a scrum-half in the backline. Up front, the pack must be made up of three back-rowers, a pair of locks, two props and a hooker. Do not get hung up over tighthead and loosehead props if you do not want to. There does not need to be one of each.
As for bonus roles, the captain tag does what it has done in most fantasy games across sports down the years; it doubles that player’s score. A very interesting wrinkle for this Six Nations game, which adds a strategic element, is the ‘supersub’ chip. This triples the points of an additional player that comes off the bench. However, if that player starts, they will only return half of the points they earn.
How to score points
The Six Nations game is more stripped back than the World Cup one. That said, as well as metrics like tries, assists, tackles and turnovers, the scoring index includes 50:22 kicks, which are worth a significant boost of seven points. Line-out steals are worth the same. Most valuable, though, are coveted player-of-the-match awards. These net you a whopping 15 points. As ever, cards will cost the most. Yellows set you back three points, with a sending-off carrying a six-point sanction.
Pick Damian and/or Duhan
Do not try to be too clever or baulk at the price of premium wings. Penaud now costs 19.4 stars, down from the initial maximum of 20 after a forgettable night in Marseille. He still registered 17 points on Friday. Each beaten defender ticks over two points. Penaud glides past opponents at will. He finished the last Championship as top try-scorer and is also an effective link man, who will be surrounded by Bordeaux colleagues. Keep the faith.
Duhan van der Merwe (18.3 stars) slips tackles for fun. He returned 38 points from the Cardiff thriller, amassing 95 metres on the way to two tries.
Back yourself with newbies
A scan of the scoring lists suggests that relatively unproven internationals come cheap. Joe McCarthy and Tommy Freeman were at 11 and 8 stars, respectively, before round one began. They proved to be rewarding bargains straightaway. McCarthy scored 33 points, boosted by his player of the match award. Freeman landed 27 points himself. Prices shift up and down, just as they do on Fantasy Premier League (FPL), so move quickly. McCarthy in now at 12.1 stars, with Freeman at 9.1. Ethan Roots has increased to 9.7 starts on the back of his 37-point haul in Rome.
Just as Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players scour databases for midfielders that are labelled as defenders or forwards that have been put into the midfielder bracket, rugby presents similar opportunities. Tommaso Menoncello (now 12.1 stars) is down as a back three player. The explosive Italy star has been exclusively at centre for Benetton this season and punched holes superbly against England before moving to the wing later. He registered 35 points in defeat.
Finn Russell will be kicking at goal for Scotland and is sure to keep putting himself in the frame for further points with try assists. He is also reasonably prolific when it comes to 50:22s, a seven-point feat that could make your week. Russell began the Championship with a round 40 as Scotland edged Wales.
With breakdown steals worth five and line-out steals seven, disruptors such as Maro Itoje (16.1 stars), Tadhg Beirne (17 stars) and Tommy Reffell (13.1 stars) will be tempting. Beirne amassed 44 points at Stade Vélodrome, while Reffell hung tough to pick up an impressive 34.
One name springs to mind immediately at the thought of the ‘supersub’ bonus; that of Nolan le Garrec (9.2 stars). The scampering scrum-half has plundered six tries for Racing 92 in the Top 14. He added spark upon replacing Maxime Lucu against Ireland, introducing himself with a jackal turnover to score 5 points. His returns will surely improve as and when France do so as a collective.
Keep an eye out for updates
Le Garrec could well be promoted into the starting line-up for Murrayfield, so keep an eye out for announcements towards the end of match weeks. Unlike FPL, one can change a Six Nations fantasy team mid-round, as long as players’ teams have not already taken the field. That means, if you are alert enough, you can step in to withdraw those that have withdrawn themselves in real life. It would have been a real shame, for example, if someone had kept Ellis Genge in their team after the England loosehead dropped out of the Italy encounter with a foot injury.
One point per tackle, as opposed to one every five tackles as other rugby games have awarded, makes the defensive grafters more valuable. Michele Lamaro (11.2 stars) is worth considering, here. Italy’s skipper completed 19 tackles against England, scoring well enough to enhance his value despite a trip to the sin bin late on. The output of Grégory Alldritt (17.5 stars) is always enormous, as well, and is unlikely to subside with the captaincy of France.
Looks can be deceiving
Alldritt is a good place to finish. Most would probably suggest that he was outplayed by Caelan Doris (17 stars) on Friday. However, he took home 31 points. Doris landed 20. The difference? Time spent in defence. Alldritt made 16 tackles and forced a jackal turnover, whereas Doris completed 8 tackles and was not credited with any steals.
A surprise pace-setter?
Wild, topsy-turvy matches yield mammoth individual scores and Aaron Wainwright became the first man to pass the half-century this season. A try and 97 running metres, with five beaten defenders and a player of the match going in spite of ending up on the losing side all added up to 56 points. Next stop; Twickenham.