The time has finally arrived. The 2022 Guinness Six Nations is just hours away and no doubt there are plenty of you putting the finishing touches to your Fantasy Rugby team.
There are probably some positions you’re still mulling over, due to the multitude of options available, or maybe you’re now mindful of your budget, having selected some ‘marquee’ players straight away.
We will try to point you in the right direction by showing you some of the backs to look out for when Round 1 of the Championship takes place this weekend.
It all begins at the Aviva Stadium where Ireland will take on defending champions Wales before Scotland welcome England for what is the 140th Calcutta Cup contest at BT Murrayfield later on Saturday.
The opening weekend then draws to a close on Sunday when France, who are sure to have plenty of popular picks this year, face Italy at the Stade de France.
With plenty of Fantasy Rugby points set to be claimed by the Championship’s best-performing individuals, let’s take a look at some of the leading players behind the scrum.
Antoine Dupont – France
The question if you don’t already have World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont in your Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby line-up is: why?
The 25-year-old France scrum-half isn’t just the leading player in his position, but arguably the leading player in the world in any position right now, with his performances tending to light up whichever pitch he is on.
Dupont’s lightning-quick distribution and ability to break through defences at will make him a near-constant in his team’s tries, whether it’s him putting other players through or dotting the ball down himself.
OK, at 19 stars Dupont is the most expensive player in the game, but it is worth repeating: why wouldn’t you have the World Rugby Player of the Year in your team?
Stuart Hogg – Scotland
Yes, this is another obvious pick, but Scotland’s Stuart Hogg has been one of the consistently highest-scoring players in Fantasy Rugby for a number of years now.
There’s no sign of the 29-year-old full-back slowing down just yet and he comes into this year’s Guinness Six Nations fresh from breaking Scotland’s try-scoring record during the autumn.
Preview: Scotland v England
The Scottish captain scored his 25th try for his country, against Japan, to move above Ian Smith and Tony Stanger and his running and finishing ability will make Hogg a key figure from deep once again.
At 18 stars, Hogg will be possibly the most expensive player in your team, but selecting him comes with almost a guarantee of watching the points come piling in.
Marcus Smith – England
One of the most exciting newcomers to international rugby over the past year, Marcus Smith is set to be given an extended run as England’s fly-half during this year’s Championship.
Smith’s potential had been known for some time, but it was last season that he really started to blossom, as he played a leading role in his club Harlequins winning the Premiership title.
His form made him impossible for England to ignore and the 23-year-old has shown already he has the nerves to handle the international stage, not least when he kicked a last-minute penalty to defeat world champions South Africa last November.
Smith is available for selection at 15 stars and there will be plenty of eyes on how he performs during his first-ever Guinness Six Nations.
Louis Rees-Zammit – Wales
Wales are going to be without several of the players from last year’s Championship-winning side, but Louis Rees-Zammit, the youngest member of it, remains as he looks to build on a stellar last 12 months.
Rees-Zammit was the breakthrough star of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as he scored four tries, with his pace, footwork and kicking skills making him a lethal attacker from just about anywhere on the field.
Preview: Ireland v Wales
The 21-year-old toured South Africa with the British & Irish Lions and has quickly established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet for Wales coach Wayne Pivac.
Rees-Zammit is priced at 16 stars – perhaps not the bargain he was last year, but still worth being picked as one of your wingers.
Garry Ringrose – Ireland
Centre Garry Ringrose has grown into being a consistent performer for Ireland in midfield and comes into the Championship after helping his country to a hugely successful autumn.
At 27 years old, Ringrose is starting to hit his peak years and his ability to beat defenders and his reliability as a tackler looks set to make him a big points-scorer in Fantasy Rugby this year.
The fact Ringrose was selected at 13 through matches against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina, despite the stiff competition for places in the Irish midfield, shows how highly rated he is by his coach, Andy Farrell.
Ringrose can by yours for 16 stars in this year’s Fantasy Rugby and you can rely on him to perform as much as Farrell already does.
Monty Ioane – Italy
In what hasn’t been the easiest of times for Italy in the Guinness Six Nations, the performances of winger Monty Ioane have undoubtedly been a highlight.
The 27-year-old is an extremely elusive runner, a trait he demonstrated during an eye-catching performance against England during last year’s Championship, which included him scoring a third-minute try.
It formed part of what was a successful first year in international rugby for Ioane, who will hope to be given the chance to shine with the ball in space by the Azzurri this year.
A player that might still go under the radar for many Fantasy Rugby players, Ioane will be available for 15 stars.