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Rugby World Cup Fantasy Rugby – Opening Week Cheat Sheet

The jeopardy starts on the opening night when hosts France, duke it out with New Zealand (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

We are just days away from the most highly anticipated Rugby World Cup of all time.

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It feels like Christmas.

Tens of thousands of fans have already signed up to try their hand at fantasy rugby and with France and New Zealand getting us underway on Friday night, your squad needs to be locked, loaded and signed up to as many leagues as possible before kickoff.

Below is your gameweek one cheat sheet to help you make a splash in the fantasy rugby world during the opening weekend of the World Cup.

Important News

Gameweek one will begin on Friday night when France host the All Blacks at the Stade de France and will finish after Wales and Fiji’s Pool C clash on Sunday, meaning eight games will span across the round.

Some tantalising fixtures are on display for the opening weekend with England playing Argentina and South Africa squaring off against Scotland.

However, more opportunity for fantasy owners may lie in the expectedly one-sided matchups such as Ireland against Romania and Italy versus Namibia, where a big points tally could be on the cards.

The structure of the first fantasy round means Uruguay, Tonga, Portugal and Samoa will not be a part of the opening gameweek and with unlimited transfers available, players from those countries should not be in your squads for the opening round.

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Injury updates are another aspect to stay on top of with several stars already confirmed to miss the opening weekend and more with slight injury concerns.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the starting lineups as they filter through during the week before settling on players, you need all 15 players scoring points!

World Rugby Fantasy Rugby World Cup
How the RWC 2023 Fantasy looks

Props

In the fantasy world, props won’t be the prettiest girl at the dance but given their low price points, owners can be crafty in this department.

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When it comes to the big boys up front there are three things that you should be looking for to get the best value for your credits; A prop who can play 60+ minutes, dominate at scrum time and be busy in the loose.

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong and South Africa’s Steven Kitshoff certainly fit those categories and as a result, are the joint most expensive props at 6.5 credits each.

However, Angus Bell may be a better alternative for the opening week.

His elite ability in the loose paired with the fact that he’s played over 60 minutes in two of his last three international starts make him an attractive option.

Adding the fact that he’s one of the world’s best scrummagers and is only worth 4.5 credits makes him my best prop pick for the opening round.

Italy’s Danilo Fischetti (5.0 credits), Argentina’s Tomas Gallo (4.5 credits) and Japan’s Craig Miller (3.5 credits) are three other potential steals given their high level of involvement in games and their price points.

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong (Photo By Brendan Moran/Getty Images)

Hookers

The resurgence of hookers as tryscorers has filtered into the fantasy world with the threat of scoring from the back of the maul reflecting into hookers’ pricing, making this a position to target a premium player.

Malcolm Marx and Jamie George understandably sit as the most expensive hooking options based on their tryscoring ability, but at ten credits apiece, they may be hard to squeeze into a squad.

Dan Sheehan (9.0 credits) should be a player snapped up by many fantasy owners given he’s scored 14 tries in his last 20 starts for club and country and has a favourable matchup against Romania to start the tournament.

Julian Montoya (7.5 credits) is another top option and has already been selected by 20% of fantasy owners, the highest percentage of any hooker.

The Argentinian captain is a Swiss army knife with his turnover, ball-carrying and try-scoring abilities, making him a brilliant option for their opening game against an England side desperately searching for form.

If you’re looking to save credits for elsewhere at hooker, Fiji’s Tevita Ikanivere (6.0 credits) is certainly worth a look having scored three tries in his last two international starts and comes into the tournament off the back of an excellent Super Rugby season with the Fijian Drua.

Locks

The engine room is another area where fantasy managers can deploy their hidden gems.

At the top end of the scale, Eben Etzebeth will set you back nine credits with the likes of Tadhg Beirne, Sam Whitelock, James Ryan and Brodie Retallick worth 8.5 credits.

All Blacks
New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Alternatively, there are some eye-catchingly cheap options.

Wales’ 2022 Player of the Year Will Rowlands is one of those and at just 5.5 credits, he may be worth the risk given his tireless work rate and lineout stealing ability.

Italian duo Niccolo Cannone and Dino Lamb are also excellent value at just five credits apiece, especially given Italy’s opening matchup against Namibia.

Despite not featuring in the opening gameweek, Theo McFarland (6.0 credits), AKA the human highlight reel, will certainly be one to keep an eye on throughout the tournament given his ability to earn points in almost every aspect of the game.

Back Row

The loose forwards will be one of the more contentious departments during the opening round with a vast array of quality options at a cheaper price bracket, as the most expensive back rowers only cost 7.5 credits.

Ardie Savea (7.0 credits) is a dream for fantasy owners with his tackle-busting abilities and has been snapped up in 36.3% of teams already.

However, Fiji’s Levani Botia at six credits is one of the most intriguing options.

Being an inside centre who has converted to a flanker, Botia’s linebreak ability compares to no other back row option and with the development of his turnover threat at ruck time, he should be heavily considered as part of your team.

Japan’s Kizuki Himeno (5.0 credits) and Italy’s Lorenzo Cannone (5.0 credits) are another two players that could capitalise early on given their teams’ matchups against Chile and Namibia respectively.

If you’re looking to go even cheaper, Richard Hardwick (2.5 credits) is one to keep an eye on after impressing in Namibia’s two warm-up games off the back of a barnstorming season for the Melbourne Rebels.

Scrum-halves

Antoine Dupont is understandably the premium scrum-half at 11 credits.

The French captain will undoubtedly be near the top of the fantasy point-scoring charts throughout the tournament and will serve as an elite and stable option.

However, if you’re looking to spend big in other departments there are some hidden gems.

Excellent options are aplenty at a medium price range including Australia’s Tate McDermott (7.5 credits), Uruguay’s Santiago Arata (7.0 credits) and Wales’ Tomos Williams (6.0 credits). All three can break a game wide open in seconds on top of their brilliant support play.

Tate McDermott of Australia against France (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Fly-halves

The four most expensive players in this year’s fantasy game are fly-halves.

Richie Mo’unga, Johnny Sexton, Finn Russell and Mathieu Jalibert are all worth a whopping 13 credits but each have their pitfalls in the opening round.

Mo’unga, Russell and Jalibert all face tough matchups in their opening games whilst Sexton hasn’t played in almost six months and may take some time to shake off the rust.

With that in mind, Paolo Garbisi is the most alluring option.

With Italy’s matchup against Namibia, his world-class playmaking, running and kicking abilities and at only 8.5 credits, Garbisi is due for a big points haul in the opening round.

Carter Gordon (9.0 credits) is another attractive option as he comes in off the back of three straight starts for the Wallabies.

As for cheaper fly-halves, Chile’s Rodrigo Fernandez (6.0 credits) is an underrated option given his electric running ability, one that saw him win World Rugby’s try of the year in 2022, with Fiji’s Caleb Muntz (7.5 credits) and Georgia’s Luka Matvaka (7.0 credits) also good options given their stellar form in the warm-up games.

Garbisi Italy verdict Rugby Pod
Italy’s Paolo Garbisi (Photo by Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images)

Centres

There’s no shortage of talent amongst the centres this World Cup, wherever you look it’s one box office player after another.

There are premium options across the park including the likes of Gael Fickou (10.0 credits), Rieko Ioane (10.0 credits) and Garry Ringrose (9.0 credits), who will all be reliable point scorers given their attacking prowess.

Fijian trio Semi Radradra (10.0 credits), Waisea Nayacalevu (7.0 credits) and Josua Tuisova (8.0 credits) are all set to cause havoc against Wales with Tuisova likely to start on the wing meaning all three present solid options in the midfield.

However, Japan’s Dylan Riley is my best value pick from the centres for the opening round as the South African born powerhouse should exploit Chile’s defence and you’ll only need to spend 5.5 credits to have him.

Georgia’s Merab Sharikadze at seven credits is another option to ponder after he made 23 tackles without a miss in their final warm-up game against Scotland.

Outside Backs

Outside backs will be where the biggest points of difference lie between fantasy squads this World Cup.

With the points-scoring system rewarding game breakers so favourably, this is where you should target some big guns and for gameweek one, Ireland’s back three weapons should be your port of call.

RWC 2023 Fantasy Hamilton XV
The Fantasy 2023 team selected by Jim Hamilton

 

The number one ranked side in the world enjoy a matchup against Romania and many are expecting an avalanche of Irish points that fantasy owners can capitalise on so look no further than James Lowe and Mack Hansen, who have scored a combined eight tries in Ireland’s last six games.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s Emiliano Boffelli is a tantalising option at only seven credits. Not only will his lethal attacking abilities result in a mountain of points, but his placekicking duties add a unique point-scoring element.

Italy’s high-octane fullback Ange Capuozzo (5.0 credits) has been selected by 46.4% of fantasy teams and for good reason given his wicked footwork and running abilities will be on full display against a vulnerable Nambian defence.

Rugby World Cup fantasy

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Tom 277 days ago

Will these come out weekly? These are awesome!

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