Fantasy Super Rugby: Beware of the injury cloud

By Dr Stats

Israel Folau of the Waratahs is tackled by Luke Jones of the Rebels during the round six Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Rebels. Photo / Getty Images.
Israel Folau of the Waratahs is tackled by Luke Jones of the Rebels during the round six Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Rebels. Photo / Getty Images.

Israel Folau once again wreaked havoc with the fortunes of fantasy players in round nine of Dream Team Fantasy Super Rugby, reminding gamers of the grave risk in backing injured stars.

Despite all reports that Folau would take the field for the Waratahs on Saturday night, a last-minute intervention by the ARU led to his exclusion from the game.

Those who selected Folau as their captain were doomed for the week while other owners were left hoping their substitutes bench contained a profitable replacement.

This story is the perfect example of how taking a punt on any player under an injury cloud can be risky business and most times it's better to be safe than sorry.

The coming round involves a number of prominent players who fall into this category - while some may be named to play, reduced minutes could be a factor in their weekly score.

Folau is again a risky use of valuable budget with reports now saying he could be sidelined for up to six months. He may be more trouble than he's worth right now.

Brodie Retallick has been passed fit by the Chiefs after suffering a head knock against Cheetahs and looks likely to take the field against the Crusaders on Saturday. Despite this, I wouldn't be surprised if he delivers a sub-standard fantasy score this week.

Blues lock Tom Donnelly returns from a calf injury to start for the Blues - he's within the top 10 most-owned second rowers but for my mind, can be dropped in all teams.

Similarly, I wouldn't be tempted to pick up Keven Mealamu even though he's been named to start for the Blues.

In other major injury news so far this week - Brad Thorn has been ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby season along with Stormers locks Rynhardt Elstadt and De Kock Steenkamp and Blues back Baden Kerr.

On the bye this week are the Brumbies, Highlanders and Reds so replacements will need to be found for players like Ben Smith, Jesse Mogg, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Horwill, Sam Carter, Aaron Smith, Will Genia and Quade Cooper.

If we look at fixtures to exploit in round ten, I'm predicting a big fantasy day for Sharks players - especially their backs.

Lwazi Mvovo ($9,160,000) is your ready-made replacement for Israel Folau. According to the Herald Rugby Stats Centre he's third in the league in clean breaks, sixth in metres gained and seventh in defenders beaten. This is leading to an average fantasy score of 21 points and I'd expect more this weekend against the Cheetahs.

Though the temptation of a juicy Hurricanes v Blues matchup exists, I would only pick up forwards in this fixture due to expected bad weather. This theory would also apply to the Chiefs v Crusaders match on Saturday.

Top pickups:
Lwazi Mvovo, Sharks
Luke Braid, Blues
Bernard Foley, Waratahs

Value picks:
Francois Uys, Cheetahs
Dane Coles, Hurricanes

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