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Scout Report: Test Match Fantasy preview

Scout Report: Test Match Fantasy preview

Thu, May 04, 2017 - 09:00AM
Lone Scout⁠‌, ‌NRL.com

It's the simplest version of NRL Fantasy you'll play all year – just pick six players from Friday's Australia v New Zealand Test match, name a captain and a vice captain and you could win yourself $750 for a couple of minutes' work. 

Just go to the Match Day section on the NRL Fantasy website or app and start selecting your side – one hooker, one front-rower, one back-rower, one half, one centre and one winger/fullback. 

There are a couple of things to remember when picking a Match Day side. First, unlike regular NRL Fantasy, in Match Day captains get triple points and vice captains get double so make these decisions wisely. Second, try to get at least one left-field option into your Match Day side to differentiate you from the pack and boost your chances of taking out the prize.

One-off Fantasy rounds are notoriously difficult to predict, but here's my quick guide to some of the best options on offer in this year's Anzac Test.

HOOKER

The gun: Cameron Smith is the most obvious pick in this game. The best player in NRL Fantasy, a tackle machine and the Australian captain, Smith is unlikely to match the 62 points a game he scores for Melbourne considering he doesn't kick goals at rep level, but is still the man you can most rely on to score 50+ for your team.

The wildcard: New Zealand rake Issac Luke is the only alternative and actually isn't a bad option – he hasn't got Smith's consistency but loves a dart out of dummy half and has more tackle breaks in him than his Kangarous counterpart. If the Kiwis get an upset win Luke is likely to be one of their stars.

FRONT ROW

The gun: He may have only been a late inclusion in the Australian side but Andrew Fifita is made for the NRL Fantasy scoring system, combining solid tackle counts with big metres and a lot of tackle breaks. Fifita's the kind of player who can score 20 points in a single play and has been improving his form in the past few weeks for Cronulla.

The wildcard: Jesse Bromwich has been well below his best Fantasy-wise this season but could take the game by the scruff of the neck as captain of his country on Friday night. The Kangaroos are down on troops in the forwards with Aaron Woods, Matt Scott and Shannon Boyd all injured but if the Kiwis are to take full advantage Bromwich will need to have a big game as the leader of the New Zealand pack. He does all the little things right and can produce offloads and score tries as well so don't write off the Storm prop's chances of a big game here.

BACK ROW

The gun: Jason Taumalolo exploded out of the blocks this season with a sensational start to the Cowboys' campaign, producing some massive metres in the opening few rounds and averaging 71 Fantasy points after his first four games of the season. He's coming off his quietest game of the year for the Cowboys but should bounce back against the Kangaroos.

The wildcard: There are a lot of options here – Martin Taupau is in good form and available in the second row, David Klemmer ditto, Matt Gillett should play big minutes, Boyd Cordner can break open the game… but my wildcard pick here is starting Kangaroos lock Trent Merrin, who overcame a mediocre start to the season to produce a quality 77 for Penrith last round. He should get plenty of work to do in the middle of the park and could benefit if it's a low-scoring contest.

HALF

The gun: Shaun Johnson has been in brilliant Fantasy form this season, starting the year with three straight 60s and producing just one sub-50 score so far in 2017 (a solid 44 against the Eels in Round 6). He's playing alongside his Warriors spine and should dominate the kicking like he does at club level, while also producing his share of tackle breaks and kicking a few goals unless the Kiwis are shut out by Australia.

The wildcard: He's battling injury leading into the game but Johnathan Thurston is a man for the big occasions and could yet be the game-breaker for the Kangaroos. The best playmaker in rugby league is also Australia's goalkicker and if the home side dominates in Canberra then Thurston and Cooper Cronk are every chance of outscoring Johnson in Fantasy.

CENTRE

The wildcards: With Josh Dugan unavailable at centre in Test Match Fantasy at the time of writing the three remaining centres are all wildcards. Will Chambers and Blake Ferguson are available for the Aussies, and Jordan Kahu and David Fusitua are available for the Kiwis. The tactic here is simple: pick the guy you rate most likely to score a try or two. So if you're backing the Aussies, pick Chambers or Ferguson (Ferguson is playing on the wing outside Dugan, which means worse base stats but a better chance of finishing off a try). If you tip New Zealand to win, grab Kahu or Fusitua.

WINGER/FULLBACK

The gun: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is back to something near his best for the Warriors this season and has now played alongside the entire Kiwis spine on a regular basis, making him more likely than ever to get involved in try-scoring plays against the Kangaroos. He's a brilliant ball-runner from the back as well and can eat up metres on his day.

The wildcard: Josh Dugan is a solid option considering he'll get more tackles than the others available in this position considering he'll play at centre, while Jordan Rapana as a born try-scorer who could capitalise if the Kiwis run up some points.

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