andy christie
We had a chance to talk to Alex Godwin, the top scorer after Round 2 of Six Nations Fantasy Rugby.

Alex led the way in Round 2 after a number of inspired selections in including captain James Lowe, Dan Sheehan, Gael Fickou, Ben Earl, Jack Crowley and Tommy Reffell. Alex ended up with a massive 489 points in Round 2, so we spoke to him to try and get some tips leading into Round 3.

First of all congratulations again on an amazing performance so far! Reaching the top of the world rankings is an amazing achievement! Are you a regular fantasy rugby player?

AG: I've been playing the official game for a few years now. A few friends and I have a recurring mini-league that can get quite intense - the loser picks up the Super Saturday bar tab so that's been a good incentive to get team selection right. Thankfully I've been able to get the better of them most years though.

Did you have a strategy in your team selection or was it more a case of going with your gut feeling?

AG: I try and look for players that are scoring their points through repeatable patterns - Player of the Match and tries are great but are less likely to be repeated from one week to the next. The players that are consistently putting up high tackle counts, making a lot of carries, regularly jackaling for the ball or are the go-to strike runners for a team are more likely to be doing that week after week.

Did you use stats to help drive your selections?

AG: I like to check a few key things when putting together my team:

1. How a player scored their fantasy points to date - as above, trying to identify those repeatable trends. Where have their points come from and how likely is that to be replicated in the context of their next game?

2. When teams are making key substitutions - I want players that are getting 80 minutes where possible. Conversely, I want my Supersub on the pitch as early as possible.

3. The bookies - whilst their morals might be questionable at times, they have a lot of clever people spending a lot of time working out what's going to happen in sporting events. Check out the handicap spreads and try scorer odds and see who they have tipped for points.

4. The weather - yes this one's a bit nausey but it makes a big difference to the way teams are going to play! Teams are going to be throwing it around a lot less in the pouring rain and I certainly don't want my kicker to be kicking in 50mph winds.

Clearly your team so far has performed from 1-15, but do you still have any selection regrets at all?

AG: Wales skipper Dafydd Jenkins was the only player I had in single figures so maybe him but to be honest at number one in the world I don't think you can have too many complaints. I nearly went for Mauvaka and Henshaw over Sheehan and Fickou so thank god I didn't make that change or you'd be interviewing someone else right now!

As we all know, the Supersub can be the difference between a good gameweek and a league-winning gameweek, do you have a strategy as to who you select for the supersub? Has it made a difference for you so far?

AG: It may sound obvious but pick a player that you know is going to score you points. I used to be a big fan of the gung-ho Supersub and, other than the time Callum Sheedy got me a 200-pointer, it was blanks pretty much every time. They may not be the sexiest picks but Hookers and Back Rowers seem to be happy hunting grounds this year with plenty of points on offer with the new points system and decent minutes expected off the bench. To demonstrate the point, think of the excitement about Feyi-Waboso ahead of round one but in two rounds on the bench he has scored 3 points in total - within two minutes of coming on in Round 2 Andy Christie had a turnover steal and that alone earned me 15 points as Supersub. Paired with a Kelleher 51-pointer in Round 1, the proof is in the pudding.

Who are the players you've selected who have contributed the most to your huge score?

AG: It was a real team effort this week to be honest with decent numbers across the board. Picking all three players of the match (Earl, Fickou & Lowe) was definitely a help and captaining Lowe for a 100 pointer is the obvious standout. Honourable mentions have to go to Sheehan for his brace and Tommy Reffell who has been a machine so far (more on him later). I've been really impressed with Crowley's ability to own the 10 shirt for Ireland and not be overshadowed by the Sexton legacy - his try was another highlight.

If there’s one single tip that you’d give to a new Fantasy Rugby manager, what would it be?

AG: Pick the players that you think are going to score the most fantasy points that week. It may sounds simple but I think it highlights a few key elements:

1. Try not to be influenced by who those around you are picking. If you think Tommy Freeman outscores Van De Merve then pick Tommy Freeman - it doesn't matter that you're 99% certain that everyone else in your mini-league is picking big Duhan. This is the exact scenario I had in round 2 and look how that worked out.

2. Focus on fantasy points not real world performance. Yes these two often go hand in hand and the eye test can give you good insights but if your players aren't getting fantasy points then they're not going to cut it as fantasy picks.

3. Try not to knee jerk or react and pick all the players that scored points last week just because they scored points last week - it's very easy to gravitate to all the players that have just scored big but last week's points are gone now, if you missed them you missed them. Yes some of these players scored well for a reason but don't go captaining Dan Sheehan expecting him to score two tries every week.

Did you use any specific websites or resources to help your team planning?

AG: I hear Fantasy Rugby Geek has some good content :P

Prior to your performance this year, had you done well in previous years?

AG: You know what, I actually don't know. As I mentioned I am in a very competitive mini league so it's always been a relative game: I could finish bottom 5 in the world but as long as Gordon, Curry & Sadler are below me then that's still a win (thankfully they normally are). I think the only time I've looked at the overall rankings is when I got the notification to tell me that I was world number 1! Who knows, maybe I won last year and just never realised! (I didn't.)

Will you be changing your approach at all for the remainder of the tournament? Any lessons you've learned from your fantasy selection so far?

AG: It's tempting to tinker and overthink but to use a golfing analogy I am much more of a percentage golfer, valuing the consistent solid picks that are likely to deliver vs going all in on the Hail Mary selections. If the mini league position looks secure going into Round 5 maybe then I'll try something a little racier. Let's see.

Looking ahead to this weekend's Round 3 games, are there any players you have your eye on to bring in your team?

AG: I think we're all still trying to get our heads around the new points scoring system but it's definitely looking like Back Rowers are going to be a healthy source of points. Tommy Reffell has been a man possessed this year. He will be firmly in my team this week and probably every week now until the end of the Championship. Ben Earl is another who will likely be there for similar reasons.

With Italy still the tournament's unfortunate whipping boys and travelling to France in Round 3 I'm backing the French to be up for righting the wrong vs Ireland on home soil. Some southern hemisphere fans may disagree but Damien Penaud is right up there in terms of being the best finisher on that planet at the moment so he will be in along with the double threat that Thomas Ramos offers with both ball in hand and from the tee. It's likely an arm wrestle between those two for the captain's armband.

Elsewhere I don't think you can go too far wrong with anyone wearing a green jersey at the moment and as an Englishman I have a horrible feeling there might be some smug Scots come Saturday evening. I think it might be a coin toss on Friday as to whether James Lowe or Duhan van der Merwe get the third slot in my back three. I expect both to go well this weekend.

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