Slowly but surely, a new Premiership season is creaking in to view. And my goodness, aren’t we glad about it? The off season is when we really start to wonder what we would do without rugby. And in the current climes, the alternatives are bleak and involve doing horrible things to a large amount of politicians.
To accompany you on your tumultuous adventure through the Gallagher Premiership Season 2018/19, I can’t recommend Fantasy Rugby Draft enough. If you’ve not played it, you will not be disappointed. It knows the game and players exceptionally well, and the gameplay is driven by the fact that you only compete in a small league, whilst the rugby players you choose, score points for you alone. There’s no complicated budget or transfer market. There is trading but that is done between managers, and can get very amusing. The draft itself is a brilliant, tension-filled hour and a half, where you sit, watching top players assign themselves to teams, hoping that other managers don’t pick the player you’ve got your heart on.
If you’ve played it before, the chances are you are getting involved again. You are probably already signed up to a league and have a draft date set. And as such, you are beginning to muse over the players that will make your wishlist. Below are five choices you may want to consider.
Matt Banahan (OB)
He’s a long way down the list, as there are many prize assets to purr over in the outside back category, but I have a funny feeling ‘Banners’ is going to go well at Gloucester this year. He’ll love the Shed (and they’ll love him) and with clever hands inside him, the Jersey giant is going to find himself in open pasture more often than not. The fact that he can comfortably cover the centres makes him more likely to start, and in a Gloucester side that appear to be set up to play attacking rugby, their backline will rack up points. The likes of Thorley (depending on his return from injury), Marshall, Purdy, Sharples, Trinder and Woodward from Gloucester will all be worth keeping an eye on. Will be fascinating to see how they go.
Joe Simmonds (FH)
If you get the first pick in your draft, I think you would be very brave to pass up the Saracens Front Row. You’d also be unwise to pass on AJ MacGinty considering his form with the boot last year and the fact that a potent Sale backline hasn’t got any weaker. But for me, the clever bet to carry the fly half mantel for your fantasy team, is Joe Simmonds. Exeter will challenge again this year, and Simmonds is now their number one No.10. He won’t be hampered by international windows and, if he stays fit, will be an uninterrupted points machine. You could make a similar case for Ian Madigan at Bristol but I’m wagering that Exeter will win more games than Bris this season.
Faf de Klerk (HB)
As far as scrum halves go, there’s only one you need. Do whatever you can to get Faf in your squad. Currently just outside of the South African set up, his focus will be on making the Sharks as good as they can be and I think he’s going to light up the league once again this year. The likes of Hougaard (Worcester), Takulua (Newcastle) and Fotuali’i (Bath) had quieter seasons than previously last year, and you won’t be too worried if you go for one of them, but, for me, Faf has to be first choice.
Guy Thompson (LF)
If Leicester play him, and he stays fit, this ‘guy’ will score you points. Always made yards for Wasps and beats a surprising amount of defenders. The Leicester back row also contains another FRD favourite of mine in Brendan O’Connor, and you’d be chuffed if you bagged both of those Tigers. Zac Mercer at Bath would also have to be high on your list too. If you’re looking a little left field – try Sam Lewis at Worcester. If you get two good, performing loose forwards, they can tick things over very nicely for your team.
Bristol Front Row (FR)
Now, usually, if you look at promoted teams’ front rows of the past, they haven’t done too well: often heavily penalised, they can leak points. I have a sneaking suspicion Bristol won’t be a bad option. Names like John Afoa and Harry Thacker have good open space pedigree and can score tries. I would put the like of Saracens, Exeter, Wasps at the top of your shopping list, but if you’re anything like me, when it comes to choosing a Front Row in your draft, that lot have already gone! The Quins Front Row is another good bet; Dave Ward’s ability to play in the back row can score you points and you feel Gustard will get their discipline right, which was a big issue last year.
So there you go. I’m probably wrong, but it might give you a few ideas. Happy to hear your thoughts if you want to share them with me too?
Good luck in your leagues this year. Will be great to get it going once again.