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Fantasy Rugby: Three must-have second-rows

Paul Willemse scores their first try despite Magnus Bradbury

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is just days away and you know what that means, Fantasy Rugby is back.

Fans across Europe will take on their friends and family, flex their managerial muscles and show their selection skills over an exciting five weekends of action.

However, picking the right players will be crucial if you want to avoid walking away with your league’s wooden spoon.

So, with that in mind, it is time to look at the three must-have second-rows that Fantasy Rugby players should include in their squad ahead of the latest edition of Rugby’s Greatest Championship.

Budget – Christ Tshiunza – Nine Stars

Warren Gatland’s return as head coach looks set to usher in a new era for Wales, with an exciting generation of fresh faces leading the charge.

One of those players is Exeter Chiefs lock Christ Tshiunza, who, at 1.98 metres and 114 kilograms, has the size and the skill to excel at the set-piece and in the loose under the Kiwi.

Christ Tshiunza and Dan Biggar

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At just nine stars, the lock is an absolute steal.

He could easily break into Wales’ starting XV over the coming months, having shown how reliable he can be in his 15 appearances for his club this season.

He has also proven he has an eye for the try line, crossing the whitewash three times this term, including a brilliant double that inspired his side to victory against Harlequins in Round 3 of the Gallagher Premiership.

Hunting out a great deal always comes with an element of risk, but if Tshiunza can get some game time, he will not let you down.

Mid-range – Grant Gilchrist – 12 stars

Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist will be a crucial part of Gregor Townsend’s side over the next eight weeks.

With Jonny Gray an injury doubt, Scotland will turn to Gilchrist for leadership and consistency in the engine room.

The 32-year-old has 59 caps to his name, having made his international debut against France in the 2013 Six Nations, so he will not be phased by Scotland’s tricky start to life in this year’s Championship.

February will see Townsend’s side make trips to Twickenham and the Stade de France either side of a home clash against Warren Gatland’s Wales.

However, at 12 stars, Gilchrist is available at a reasonable price, especially for a player that could easily start every match.

He has an all-round game that will keep your weekly score ticking over and, after starting in all four of Scotland’s Autumn Nations Series games, you can rest assured that Gilchrist will not let you down.

Premium – Paul Willemse – 16 Stars

Paul Willemse was one of the stars of last year’s Championship, averaging 29.2 points per match in the Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby 2022.

That is reflected in his value for this year’s Championship, a costly 16 stars, making him the second most expensive lock in Fantasy Rugby.

He is France’s joint-most expensive forward along with Grégory Alldrit and Anthony Jelonch and is just one star less than the exorbitant Maro Itoje.

At 2.01m tall and weighing in at 127kg, the 30-year-old is almost impossible to stop once he gets going, and he is hitting form at the perfect time.

Willemse has scored four tries in his last four games for Montpellier, highlighting his quality as a destructive ball carrier.

France secured the Grand Slam for the first time since 2010 last time out, and they look like contenders again this year, so get Willemse in your side.