Argentina began its 2021 European tour with a previous list of 67 players, of which 29 play rugby abroad.
I worked with a group of Englishmen who introduced me to Fantasy English Premier League – I performed poorly until I learned that picking a side to win a fantasy league is entirely different to picking a side to win an actual game.
The point-scoring system is limited to easily measurable and auditable plays. For example, the effect of an impact player like Jacques Potgieter carrying the ball forward and taking three players out of a defensive line is measured only as ‘metres carried’, and the same with try assists and so on.
Penalties conceded are negative points but may have no bearing on a game. You get the picture? And there are other rules and regulations.
So how do you pick your fantasy team? Well, the only rule is to abandon emotional choices, forget your favourite players and divorce your bro-love, go with the stats and selections most likely to earn fantasy points.
Also, have a good look at the scoring system and fit players to the highest points available: tries, drop goals and penalties, clean breaks, tackles, ball steals and metres run.
So, what are the options for my Fantasy team of 23? I’ve compiled a list of players best suited to each of the stats that score the most points, using 2013 figures from Statsbunker, the New Zealand Herald and Union Live App.
Nemani Nadolo, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua, Bernard Foley, Johnny McNicoll, Ryan Crotty and Tevita Kuridrani.
Ben Smith, Folau, Mogg, Nadolo, Dagg, Willie Le Roux, Foley, Beal, Suvea, Fekitoa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, and Jason Woodward.
Matt Hodgson, Jarrad Butler, Shane Christie, Nasi Manu, Michael Hooper, Warren Whitely, Joseph Wheeler, Sam Carter and Matt Todd.
Nemani Nadolo, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Robie Coleman, Jesse Mogg, George Moala, Malakai Fekitoa, Nick Cummins, Matt Tomua, Johnny Mc Nicholl, Tim Nanai-William and Julian Savea.
Total points (in penalties, conversions and drop goals)
Bernard Foley, Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade, Marnitz Boshoff, Lima Sopoanga, Francious Steyn, Jacque-Louis Potgieter, Jason Woodward, Johan Goosen and Simon Hickey.
So, what does my team look like?
I’ve gone with four outside backs – Julian Savea, Israel Folau, Nemani Nadolo and Willie Le Roux – and three centres – Malakai Fekitoa Tevita Kuridrani and Adam Ashley Cooper.
Bernard Foley and Beauden Barrett are my two flyhalves, with Aaron Smith and Sarel Pretorius taking their place as scrumhalves.
My four loose forwards are Matt Hodgson, Matt Todd, Nasi Manu and Shane Christie, and the three lock positions are filled by Sam Carter, Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick.
Then I have Dane Coles and Bismark Du Plessis as my hookers, with Tendai Mtawarira, Owen Franks and Pec Cowan filling the three prop spots.
If you want to prove me wrong, meet me on Superbru Fantasy Rugby. Let’s see if you followed instructions – forget the bro-love, go with the stats.
Naturally my heart will be playing a second team with Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Willem Alberts, Eben Etzebeth, Jacques Potgieter, Conrad Smith and Michael Hooper.
If you want to prove me wrong, sign up!