Who to buy in ASX Sports' first Super Rugby IPO
ASX Sports fantasy rugby has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere ahead of the third round of Super Rugby Pacific with two games available for action this weekend: the Blues hosting the Chiefs at Eden Park, and the Hurricanes and Highlanders squaring off in Wellington.
Like many fantasy sport competitions, users in ASX Sports earn points (called ‘dividends’) for how well their players perform, but the big money comes from buying and selling players at the right time, whether that’s offloading them when their value is plummeting downwards, or bringing them on board when you know they’re about contribute in a big way on the field.
As will be the case every round, there are cash prizes up for grabs this weekend – so get in quick and grab a deal while you still can.
Who might be some of the best picks heading into Round 3 of Super Rugby Pacific?
Blues vs Chiefs
Players earn dividends for all the usual on-field accomplishments, such as scoring tries, kicking goals, hitting line-out targets and monstering the opposition in the scrum. Focussing on that last category for the moment, the Blues will field two All Blacks props against the Chiefs this week, Alex Hodgman and Nepo Laulala. Given how well the scrum performed last week against the Hurricanes, those two players could both be smart bets this week but perhaps it’s bench man Ofa Tuungafasi who will give you the most bang for your buck. When Tuungafasi enters the fray, he will come up against the likes of the relatively inexperienced Ollie Norris as well as Angus Ta’avao, who is still on the return from injury and slightly undercooked, which may give Tuungafasi a big advantage late in the game.
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The Chiefs, on the other hand, will field three All Blacks locks in their starting pack and with another test representative delivering the pill at the set-piece in the form of Samisoni Taukei’aho, you would expect the lineout to operate relatively smoothly throughout the game. Taukei’aho will also be making his first start this year after coming off the pine in the opening round, and he’s one of the best players at busting tackles in the game.
In the loose forwards, captains Dalton Papalii and Sam Cane are both well known for their back-to-back efforts on defence and with every tackle netting you some easy dividends (and dominant tackles are even better rewarded), they’re both worthwhile buys this weekend.
They always say to bet with your head and not your heart but halfback Brad Weber will line up for his 100th match in Chiefs colours on Saturday and given the quick-footed No 9 has a good nose for the try-line on a regular day, who’s to say the extra emotion of the match won’t catapult him forwards to net a valuable 5-pointer against the Blues?
There’s more to racking up dividends than simply scoring tries but when Blues outside backs Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea looked so dangerous against the Hurricanes last weekend, there are far worse ways to invest your money than buying a few cheeky shares in the two wingers.
Beauden Barrett could add some second-half impetus to the Blues but note that the All Blacks pivot isn’t a certainty to make the match-day squad, despite being named in the 23. That doesn’t mean he’s not worth investing in – but be ready to unload your shares on the eve of the Saturday afternoon kick-off just in case.
Hurricanes vs Highlanders
Like his Chiefs counterpart, hooker Asafo Aumua is a wrecking ball on the park and could clock up some easy metres against the Highlanders this weekend. Keep in mind, however, that the Hurricanes will be fielding a relatively short lineout which could count against Aumua if the Highlanders are able to disrupt.
Both Ethan de Groot and Jermain Ainsley have stood out at scrum time in the Highlanders’ opening two matches but it’s their work around the field that could make them solid buys this weekend. De Groot put in a thunderous hit or two against the Chiefs while Ainsley found himself in the right spots to take advantage of some dog-legs in the defence. Front-rowers gain triple as many points as other players for ball carries and passes so a prop that’s good with his hands is always a worthwhile investment.
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One man who’s always worth a punt is Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea. The All Blacks loose forward was in impressive form last weekend, both on defence and attack, and if he can manage another try against the Highlanders, any shares in Savea will be worth their weight in gold.
With Aaron Smith on the bench this week, the Highlanders will run Folau Fakatava at halfback – and the Tongan-born No 9 is a proven game-breaker. Don’t be surprised if Fakatava is the last man to throw a pass before the Highlanders touch down for a try this weekend or, better yet, the man who actually gets the ball over the line. While the Highlanders have only scored two tries this year to date, the Hurricanes have shipped nine, so a try-fest is very much on the cards.
Further out, Hurricanes midfielder Bailyn Sullivan has been rewarded for a strong performance in last week’s match with another start in the No 13 jersey. Although Sullivan had a few tackle-misses to his name last week (you can thank Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for that), he got his own back on attack, setting up two tries for the Hurricanes. Another big performance could be on the cards against the Highlanders.
Finally, it’s hard to look past last weekend’s hat-trick hero Salasi Rayasi. At the end of the day, if you can put your money on a sure thing, then why would you look elsewhere?
Now play Multi-Game Contests – where one game rolls into the next and you can go from strength to strength – trade players at the end of one game for players in the next and dominate the entire round!
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