Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby returns for the 2019 edition of Rugby’s Greatest Championship, with the lowdown on the best picks from each nation available here.
Participants have got the chance to win store vouchers and tickets for 2020, as well as bragging rights over their mates.
This time we are taking a look at Grand Slam champions Ireland, how their fixtures unfold and the must-have names from their opening clash against England in Dublin.
Joe Schmidt’s team built momentum last year, Johnny Sexton earning them a dramatic win in Paris on the opening weekend building up to a brilliant display to clinch the Slam at Twickenham in March.
Rory Best will lead the side once more, with Sexton expected to be fit by the time the Championship opener arrives.
In fact Ireland are picking from a relatively full pack, although injuries to Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne this week have hit the second row depth a little.
Sean O’Brien is back, albeit recently, from injury, while centre Robbie Henshaw is also available once again but Dan Leavy will be out a little longer.
Despite a couple of injuries at scrum-half, John Cooney is back as cover, while Caolin Blade is waiting in the wings for a first cap, like Connacht teammates Jack Carty and Tom Farrell.
WHAT’S THE SCHEDULE?
With three games on the road this year, Ireland will certainly be tested on their travels, but given that extra fantasy points are available for away wins, they could also finish with some high-scorers.
It all kicks off with a home clash against England, who Ireland have beaten on each of their last two meetings, both with the away side aiming for the Grand Slam.
Get through that tricky test, and they then face trips to Scotland and Italy in rounds two and three.
It is back to Dublin in round four, and a clash with a French side who will no doubt want to make up for that last-gasp defeat a year ago, before a tantalising trip to Wales on the final day.
MUST HAVES AND PREMIUM PICKS
Ireland had such an impressive 2018 that it would be tempting to fill your team with them but with only four players per nation around, it is important to choose them wisely.
At 16 stars, Johnny Sexton is the most expensive fly-half in the game, but the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year is worth the investment.
Most positions have Ireland players among the most expensive, but one man who must surely be in every team is James Ryan, available for just 13 stars, which puts him well down in terms of the lock options.
Another to keep a close eye on is Josh van der Flier, the Leinster flanker who looks in line to start in the back row as he did in November. A tackling machine, he should rack up the points.
With such a settled side, it is hard to see many players coming from nowhere to make a big impact but with the new Super-Sub part of the game, there are certainly some intriguing wild cards in the Irish squad.
Joey Carbery has moved to Munster and shown what a threat he can be pulling the strings, and the prospect of him coming off the bench against tired defences will be an exciting one for Ireland fans and fantasy owners alike.
Similarly, at 11 stars Jordan Larmour is relatively affordable, and while he might not start immediately, his ability to cover centre, wing and full-back make him the ideal bench option.
Finally, it is impossible to ignore Sean Cronin, a scorer of six tries in as many games in Europe this season, and one of the most dynamic hookers around. At 12 stars, he is not cheap, but he could have a big impact behind Rory Best.