All Stars Dream Team guide
The footy season officially kicks off on February 9 (this Saturday), with the Indigenous All Stars taking on the NRL All Stars at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
And as the game's most entertaining players go head-to-head you'll have the chance to win a whopping $5000, simply by selecting a six-man All Stars Dream Team.
Your All Stars Dream Team will feature one winger/fullback, a centre, a half, a second-rower, a front-rower and a hooker. Pick the right combination – including the right captain and vice captain – and you'll be five grand richer.
So, who to pick?
All Stars Dream Team is simple to play but not easy to win, even for hardened Dream Team pros, because All Stars games aren't quite the same as regular NRL matches. The summer conditions and exhibition nature of the contest mean that players spend more time on the bench than usual (both sides have 20-man squads, instead of the usual 17), and the hard-working forwards who generally make 40 or 50 tackles in an NRL game will have a lighter workload.
That suggests you should opt for strong attacking players who are likely to score tries or make tackle breaks (see the full rundown of how players score Dream Team points at the bottom of this article).
You also want players who are likely to spend a lot of time on the park, rather than the bench-warmers.
For the record, last year's winning lineup was Josh Dugan, Greg Inglis, Benji Marshall, Luke Bailey, Aaron Payne and Luke Lewis. Of those six, only Inglis and Marshall are playing in this year's game.
Another thing to keep in mind is the late withdrawal of dual position workhorse Paul Gallen from the NRL All Stars lineup.
So, of those 26 players who will start this year's match, who are the best NRL Dream Team scorers in each position?
That's simple enough: Jarryd Hayne (52 points a game in 2012), Greg Inglis (51), Benji Marshall (51), Ashley Harrison (43), Andrew Fifita (48) and Cameron Smith (68).
But a closer look suggests the obvious Dream Team lineup might not be the best. Marshall could face competition for game time with NRL All Stars super-subs Cooper Cronk and Kieran Foran. Inglis could spend some time on the sidelines with fellow centres Dane Nielsen and Timana Tahu available on the Indigenous All Stars bench. Cameron Smith could split the hooker role with fellow NRL All Star Robbie Farah.
And then there are the range of alternatives to consider. This kind of game seems like a perfect fit for someone like Ben Barba, who could light it up and score a hat-trick. NRL All Stars prop James Tamou is a tackle busting machine on his day and could cause plenty of damage up the middle. Rival speedsters Akuila Uate and Blake Ferguson could both cause havoc on the wing.
One player with plenty to play for is Travis Waddell – the only All Stars player who is actually without a club – and he could work his heart out in defence in a bid to land an NRL contract.
The other key thing to keep in mind is the captaincy rule; in All Stars Dream Team your team's captain earns triple points, and your vice captain earns double points. These two will be your most valuable players – I'd recommend picking one risky attacking option (say Hayne, Inglis, Justin Hodges or Barba) and one safe bet (say Smith, Harrison or Johnathan Thurson).
Take all these variables into account and then if you can't make up your mind, just go with your gut. This is the one form of Dream Team where just picking your favourite players could actually get you the cash.
There's nothing to lose, and plenty to gain. So get your mum, dad, brothers, sisters, mates, colleagues and your better half signed up, and you (or they) could soon be $5000 richer.
NRL Dream Team point scoring
Try: 8 points
Goal: 2 points
Field goal: 5 points
Try assist: 5 points
Line break: 4 points
Line break assist: 2 points
Tackle: 1 point
One-on-one tackle: 1 (extra) point
Tackle break: 3 points
Offload: 2 points
40/20 kick: 4 points
Run metres gained: 1 point for every 10 metres
Kick metres: 1 point for every 20 metres
Missed tackle: -2points
Error: -3 points
Penalty conceded: -2points
Sin-bin: -5 points