There is one more sleep until the first NRL game of the season kicks off and it can't come soon enough.

Finally, we can put all the off-field dramas behind us (although I'm sure there will be more) and actually watch some footy.

I have said in this column before that I am one of those New Zealanders who prefer league to union. In a country where rugby union borders on religion, this opinion may cause riots in the street but I just genuinely enjoy the game more.

The NRL is probably the only competition, in any sport, in which I will happily watch any two teams play each other, rather than just those I support. I love the speed of the game, the physicality and intense level of competitiveness throughout the entire competition.

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Like many sports fans, I dabble in a range of online fantasy sports - NBA, Premier League and NRL to name a few. In my opinion, there is no better way to immerse yourself in a sport and make it even more entertaining to watch. Obsessing over my Fantasy NRL team is one of the reasons I fell in love with the game.

For those who don't know, the basic premise of Fantasy NRL is you get a virtual salary of $9.6 million and you have to use that to fill a 21-man squad. Those 21 players then earn fantasy points for a range of different involvements in game - tackles, metres, line breaks, tries, try-assists etc.

The better the player, the more of your budget they will take up. For example; the best performing fantasy player in 2018 was Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook. In this year's edition he will set you back a cool $969k. At the other end of the scale are the rookies, yet to play a game, such as Rotorua's own Warrior Hayze Perham who starts at $212k.

Rotorua's Hayze Perham will set you back $212,000 in Fantasy NRL. Photo / File
Rotorua's Hayze Perham will set you back $212,000 in Fantasy NRL. Photo / File

They key is to invest in cash cows - players who start cheap but, by virtue of increased minutes or a change in position, increase in value throughout the season. Once they peak, you sell them, upgrade to one of the stars and you're on your way to Fantasy NRL stardom. But beware, you only get 34 trades for the whole season.

The best thing is it adds an extra element to any game you watch. Say you have the human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo in your fantasy side; every rampaging run he makes will have you mentally tallying up the points you are collecting.

On the other hand is the devastation when a star player you have traded in is ruled out with injury and you have to waste a trade replacing him.

There are people who spend hours studying line-ups and collecting any information that might possibly help them predict the future and choose the right players. I'm not quite at that point, but every season I enjoy it more.

This year I thought it might be interesting to invite you, the readers, to take me on. Whether you're like me and have been obsessing over your team for the last month or I've convinced you to give it a go for the first time.

Just go to fantasy.nrl.com, make a team if you haven't already, go to join a league and enter the code J439CJ4Y. The league will kick-off in round two so you have a week to get your team sorted and join.