You’re getting those last minute nerves aren’t you? Should you stick or twist with your Fantasy Rugby decisions ahead of Round 4?
The teams are out and we’re counting down the minutes until the captivating rugby action is back on our screens, while simultaneously studying the stats to make sure we find the best bang for your buck ahead of the weekend’s matches.
Who will shine for the Italians when they take on unbeaten Wales, or will we see another Josh Adams masterclass against the Azzurri?
What England team will turn up at Twickenham this weekend – and what French one too for that matter – as the latest offering of Le Crunch takes place on Saturday evening?
And as two of the 2021 Fantasy Rugby top scorers lock horns at BT Murrayfield on Sunday, will it be Hugo Keenan or Stuart Hogg who emerges victorious in Edinburgh?
All will be revealed in the next 48 hours or so, but before that lets take a look at where the weekend can be won or lost for those of you with that little bit extra riding on the matches, with the Round 4 Fantasy Rugby preview.
Italy v Wales
The weekend’s action gets underway at Stadio Olimpico, with Wales looking to keep their unbeaten streak intact when they travel to Rome.
Three wins out of three sees Wayne Pivac’s side top the table heading into Round 4, and they will have no intention of letting their lead slip when they take on winless Italy.
The return of Josh Adams for the 40-24 win over England added an extra dimension to the Welsh attack last time out, and the waltzing winger will be raring for more this time around.
At 15.4 stars, the Cardiff Blues man is a decent price for what you will get in return, as we all know he likes a try against the Azzurri, having scored four in his last two Championship outings against them, including a hat-trick in last year’s 42-0 triumph.
On the other side of the field Italy will have their own hopes pinned on winger Montanna Ioane, who has gained 320m with the ball in hand so far, second only to Ireland’s James Lowe (352m).
At 12.9 stars the Benetton star is a cheeky choice if you need a bargain buy to keep under budget, and after scoring against England at Twickenham in Round 2, he will be hungry to cross the whitewash once again this time around.
George North and Louis Rees-Zammit are always a threat in attack for the visitors, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either one of the two get themselves on the scoresheet in Rome.
Neither come cheap, with North valued at 16.7 stars, and Rees-Zammit at 15.3, but you are almost guaranteed points with either of these in your team, with both averaging around the 60 point per game mark so far.
It’s not just in the backs where the points are scored though with Taulupe Faletau his country’s top Fantasy Rugby points scorer in 2021, having amassed 185.4 points in his three matches.
A mammoth 49 tackles as well as a Player of the Match performance against England has seen him rack up the points this year, and he will be there or thereabouts once again in Rome.
To do that he will have to overcome the presence of Johan Meyer for the hosts, who is Italy’s top scoring forward in the competition with 57.3 points, helped by a consolation try against Ireland in Round 3.
England v France
Watch out, Vakatawa’s about.
Eddie Jones will no doubt phrase it differently in the England dressing room, but that is exactly the sentiment he will be getting across to his side ahead of the clash with France at Twickenham on Saturday.
The rampaging centre returns to the French line-up for the first time this year and will be hungry to get back among the action, and we all know once he gets the ball in hand there is often no stopping him.
With a price tag of just 14.3 stars, the Racing 92 man is a snip compared to some of the other big-hitters in the game, and he should be a good source of points with the amount of ground he gobbles up.
Then there’s Charles Ollivon, who loves a try against England as well as stopping them at the other end, with the French skipper averaging 15.5 tackles per game this year to earn 116.8 points so far.
Antoine Dupont, Brice Dulin, Matthieu Jalibert. You could take your pick of what French hotshot to pick for Round 4, but the eagle-eyed among you may be taking a look at the bench for inspiration.
With the ‘Supersub’ option earning triple points if they come on as a replacement in the game, the returning Romain Ntamack could be a wise choice to earn you the big points this weekend.
The fly-half is back from injury and will be eager to make his mark when called upon at Twickenham, and you only have to look at last year to see how he can change a game in an instant.
The reigning champions will not be giving in without a fight though, and their back three are always capable of hurting any opponent on their day.
We all know what Jonny May can produce on the wing, with the fleet-footed winger already gaining 192m with ball in hand and scoring a try this year, earning him 115.5 points for a return of 15.2 stars.
Three tries including a brace against Italy sees Anthony Watson top the ranks as England’s top scorer so far with 148.2 points to his name, but the dark horse this weekend could be full debutant Max Malins, who starts at full-back.
At just 9.2 stars the Bristol Bears man could be the value man of Round 4 because as Bears fans can attest, there is no better sight than when he gets the pistons pumping with open ground to run into.
Up front, tackle machine Tom Curry could be worth a punt, with 45 ball carriers stopped in their tracks so far, the flanker is no stranger to putting in a shift, earning him 114.0 points from his three outings.
Scotland v Ireland
There are big scorers all over the park in the 30 men that will start this one, but with only a maximum of four to choose from either team, you will have to pick carefully.
It would take a brave Fantasy Rugby manager to decide against picking Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg at the moment, with the full-back topping the list on points per game after his two outings – averaging 86.1 points per 80 minutes.
Two tries, a Player of the Match award, 254m gained with the ball and 14 tackle breaks, it’s all there in black and white. Pick him, you won’t regret it.
Sean Maitland (12.7) returns from injury to line up with Duhan van der Merwe on the wings, with both of these stars knowing their way to the try line, and happy to bounce off as many defenders as possible in order to get there.
The Saracens man scored 37.4 points from the Round 1 clash with England, running for 44m and breaking two tackles, but with this set to be a much more open game than that one in Twickenham, he will fancy his chances of boosting those numbers in Round 4.
The same goes for Van der Merwe, who got the winning try at Rugby HQ on the opening weekend, and with 138m gained and an average of 50.2 points a game he is well worth a punt at 15.3 stars.
The Men in Green have their own contender for Fantasy Rugby top scorer this year in Hugo Keenan, with the full-back gathering 180.3 points from his three outings.
316m gained, 12 tackle breaks, seven tackles made, the man has been everywhere and involved in everything that Andy Farrell’s side have done well this year, and he doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon. 16.7 stars and he’s yours.
Garry Ringrose (17.0) and James Lowe (16.4) have both gained over 300m with the ball in hand in 2021 and are always likely to shine, with their elusive nature leaving would-be tacklers flummoxed more often than not.
If you’re looking for value then 14.4-star Keith Earls is your man, with the Munster wing coming in to replace Jordan Larmour for the trip to Edinburgh.
The 33-year-old crossed twice the last time the two teams met in the Autumn Nations Cup at the back end of 2020 and knows his way to the try line as much as anyone on the pitch, having crossed 33 times in his 91 international appearances.
Up front, CJ Stander (16.9) and Tadhg Beirne (14.2) are both reliable points scorers, always having a chance to dot down themselves in addition to stopping opponents doing the same at the other end.