Fantasy Rugby: Fantasy ABs have a different look

By Cameron McMillan

Few test regulars make the cut for the imaginary squad to face France

TJ Perenara has managed the difficult task of collecting points at halfback most weeks. Photo / Getty Images
TJ Perenara has managed the difficult task of collecting points at halfback most weeks. Photo / Getty Images

If Steve Hansen picked his starting XV for next week's first test against France based on Fantasy performance, who would make the cut and who would miss out?

Front row

Angus Ta'avao - Blues
132 points, 12 games

The youngster playing in his second Super 15 season is the fourth best prop in terms of points scored and remains the second cheapest in the top 20. His season peaked with a 31-point game against the Highlanders in week eight, a team he faces tomorrow night. High tackle count helps him in Fantasy, averaging more than 13 a game in the last eight matches.

Wyatt Crockett - Crusaders
119 points, 12 games

Just edges out Ben Franks by two points. Crockett has had a dip in form recently, reaching double figures just once in his last seven outings but still scores consistently well week in, week out.

Hika Elliot - Chiefs
95 points, 11 games

Not many other hookers to compete with Elliot for this spot with Mealamu and Andrew Hore failing to impress in terms of Fantasy value. Elliot has scored double figures in his last three weeks, including a season high of 13 against the Force.

Incumbents: Tony Woodcock (61 points, nine games), Keven Mealamu (37 points, six games), Owen Franks (110 points, 11 games).

Locks

Brodie Retallick - Chiefs
181 points, 13 games

The second highest scoring second rower behind Hugh Pyle, Retallick has proven his price tag as one of the most expensive locks, having broken the 20-plus mark three times this year. Season best was 25 points against Pyle's Rebels.

Luke Romano - Crusaders
127 points, 10 games

With Whitelock injured, teammate Romano would step in as expected for the actual test at Eden Park, but his six points against the Chiefs last week was one of his lowest scores of the season.

Incumbents: Sam Whitelock (134, 12 games), Retallick.

Backrowers

Matt Todd - Crusaders
216 points, 11 games

The third best among backrowers, Todd has been outstanding all season with five scores over 20 and a season best of 32. His worst is 12 which is a high score for many other players.

Sam Cane - Chiefs
216 points, 12 games

Right alongside Todd is Cane who has played six 20-plus games with a season-high of 32 coming against the Rebels. Had a strong start but a little less consistent in recent weeks.

Liam Messam - Chiefs
203 points, 13 games

Messam has scored well, much like Todd and Cane, because of a high tackle count. He's had more than 15 tackles in a game on six occasions including 19 against the Hurricanes two weeks ago.

Incumbents: Richie McCaw (0 points, 0 games), Kieran Read (84 points, 6 games), Messam.

Halfback

TJ Perenara - Hurricanes
105 points, 12 games

The Hurricanes number nine is the second highest scoring halfback behind Petrus van Zyl of the Cheetahs. Halfback is a hard position to score points but Perenara has managed to do it most weeks. Putting aside his zero last week, he scored 35 across the previous two rounds.

Incumbent: Aaron Smith (41 points, 12 games).

First-five

Beauden Barrett - Hurricanes
157 points, 12 games

The talk may be all Carter v Cruden for the No10 jumper, but Barrett has been the top performing New Zealander. His season breakout performance came two weeks ago with 31 points against the Cheetahs. But Carter has a better points-per-game average since returning from injury.

Incumbent: Dan Carter (127 points, eight games).

Second-five

Bundee Aki - Chiefs
133 points, nine games

Aki has had an impressive run of late, averaging almost 18 points in his last five matches. 22 points against the Crusaders last week was two short of his season high.

Incumbent: Ma'a Nonu (43 points, seven games).

Centre

Rene Ranger - Blues
139 points, 12 games

The seventh best back in Herald Fantasy Rugby, Ranger had a strong start to the season with a points drought mid-season. Scores of 22, 7 and 15 in the last three outings prove he's back to his best.

Incumbent: Conrad Smith (111 points, 10 games).

Wings

Frank Halai - Blues
140 points, 12 games

Halai is a great example of the Blues' rollercoaster season. He's had three scores of 20-plus along with six outings scoring just five points or less. A season best of 37 can't be ignored.

Lelia Masaga - Chiefs
123 points, 12 games

May have been benched in recent weeks but his hat-trick against the Kings helps him move into the second wing spot. Like Halai, he's a very hot and cold performer.

Incumbents: Cory Jane (0 points, 0 games), Julian Savea (116 points, 11 games).

Fullback

Charles Piutau - Blues
135 points, 12 games

The third Blues member to make the backline, Piutau had a great start to the season with 31 points in the opener against the Hurricanes but hasn't been near those heights since. Hasn't scored in five weeks but he still beats out Ben Smith (116, 12 games) and Israel Dagg.

Incumbent: Dagg (91 points, 10 games).

- NZ Herald

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