Fantasy Rugby: The trick is in the picking

By Cameron McMillan

Weighing up who'll be around to stay the distance is season's first challenge

Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden made his boot count against the Highlanders last season, converting nine of 10 penalty attempts. Photo / Christine Cornege
Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden made his boot count against the Highlanders last season, converting nine of 10 penalty attempts. Photo / Christine Cornege

Who not to pick?
Deciding on who to pick is the obvious challenge in playing Fantasy sports but knowing who not to pick is just as key. You don't want to waste a transfer on a player who has been suspended for four weeks, which is the case for Hurricanes winger Ardie Savea, who was slapped with a ban midweek. Forget about picking fellow Canes winger Cory Jane, as well - he's out for the season with a ruptured knee ligament.

Richie McCaw is an automatic choice in most rugby teams but of course he's on sabbatical and won't return until round 18, and fellow All Black Tamati Ellison will miss most of the Highlanders' campaign following shoulder surgery. Then there's Zac Guildford ... but no need to go there.

Across the Ditch, the Reds are the side most affected by injuries, having to play without halfback Will Genia for the first five weeks (knee surgery), while James Horwill is recovering from an ankle injury.

In the Republic, Stormers flanker Schalk Burger continues to be hampered with a knee injury, the Bulls have lost Springbok prop Dean Greyling to long-term injury and Sharks skipper Keegan Daniel is out for six weeks.

Also be aware of team namings, which occur from Thursdays onwards. Before you pick a player, at least check whether they are lacing up their boots for the week's action.

History repeats
It's an all-new season but history cannot be forgotten. The Highlanders and Chiefs meet tonight and across their two fixtures last season, which were split, Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden cashed in with the boot, converting nine of 10 penalty attempts. The Hurricanes beat the Blues twice last year, Conrad Smith and Andre Taylor dotting down in both games.

If you're looking for try scorers, the Reds dotted down five times when they last played the Waratahs at home in the final round last year, and four times the year before. However, going on last week's results - a heavy defeat against the Brumbies - recent history might be a better gauge of the two sides.

Of course, there's no history surrounding new side Southern Kings, but round-two opponents the Force haven't won in South Africa since 2010.

Not too late
If you haven't created a team yet, don't worry, it's not too late. With only two games played in the "opening" week, that means just 1.5 per cent of the season is out of the way.

Best buys
Make the most of the injury replacements and buy low - Hurricanes winger Alapati Leiua (8.5) could get some decent game time with Savea and Jane out.

Stay away
The Cheetahs face the Sharks at home before heading on a road trip to face the Chiefs, Highlanders, Waratahs and Force, which looks like the toughest start for any team this year.

- NZ Herald

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