Fantasy rugby: Canny picks needed for final four

By Cameron McMillan

The in-form Dan Carter has 271 points from 13 matches, including a blistering 125 from his last four outings. Photo / Christine Cornege
The in-form Dan Carter has 271 points from 13 matches, including a blistering 125 from his last four outings. Photo / Christine Cornege

Final foursome

With Herald Fantasy Rugby allowing managers a maximum of six players from one team it's time to stack up heavily on the remaining four teams. Of course there's some risk going with six from one side if they don't advance to next week. Six Bulls players looks like the safer bet, as they host the Brumbies, but other than Morne Steyn they don't have many other Fantasy stand-outs. Picking the likes of Zane Kirchner and Grant Hattingh over Ryan Crotty and Sam Whitelock means you're risking points this week for a gain next week. Conversely picking players from all four teams means you're using up more transfers for the final week. It means managers need to pick more wisely ahead of these two matches.

The first-five debate

Carter v Cruden is the big match-up that New Zealand fans are looking forward to this weekend but for Fantasy players it's Carter vs Steyn. The two first-fives are the only two options to consider this weekend.

Carter (271 in 13 matches) is the in-form player for sure having scored a staggering 125 from his last four matches, however he scored zero when the Crusaders played in Hamilton in round 15. Steyn meanwhile heads into the semifinals as the leading points scorer at first five after accumulating 327 points in 16 matches. His last outing against the Stormers was his worst in 11 weeks (scoring just 12 points). Looking at the other two No10s - Cruden has enjoyed a nice run but his Fantasy value has dropped of late. Christian Leali'ifano scored 15 points against the Cheetahs last week, including eight tackles which is his highest number made in the last six outings, but the fact the Brumbies face a tall order in Pretoria can't be ignored.

Top locks

The two top-scoring locks will be doing battle on Saturday night when All Blacks teammates Brodie Retallick (216 points from 16 games) and Sam Whitelock (207 from 16 games) go up against each other. They should both be locked into your Fantasy team (excuse the pun), while Sam Carter of the Brumbies (172 points from 16 games) is a cheaper third option if you're running short of cash. Much like the Chiefs, Retallick hasn't been at his best form after the international break with 19 points in his last two games including just seven against the Crusaders in Christchurch. Whitelock had 17 that night and has scored 37 in the last fortnight. Another option could be Craig Clarke who scored a game-high 25 points in round 15 against the Crusaders.

Backs against a wall

With five backs spots in your Fantasy side there are still plenty of options to choose from despite just four teams remaining. Tom Marshall (50 points) and Ryan Crotty (46) have led the way in the past fortnight and are now among the top four scoring backs this season. JJ Engelbrecht (170 from 15 games) is the Bulls' best back and a top 10 in points scored, he also dotted down against the Brumbies in round seven, as did Bundee Aki against the Crusaders in round 15. Aki has 164 points from 12 games but his worst game of the season was in Christchurch earlier this month. Don't exactly rule out the Brumbies backline either. The last time they played in Pretoria in 2012, the Australians outscored the Bulls five tries to two despite losing the match. Brumbies winger Henry Speight has been hot and cold all season but could be a valid option this week.

- NZ Herald

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