With the introduction of Test Match Dream Team, this Friday’s ANZAC Test just got a whole lot more interesting for Dream Teamers everywhere.
Each coach will need to select a squad of six players, and with $5,000 on the line, many will like their chances at taking home the major prize.
Much like All Stars Dream Team, what separates Test Match Dream Team to its NRL counterpart is the captaincy bonuses. Your skipper will receive triple points, while your vice captain will double their points return.
With that being said, let’s look at some of the best captaincy options, as well as four different captaincy strategies that you could use in your quest for top spot.
Cameron Smith | HOK | Australia
I don’t think I need to explain this one. Is consistently the best scorer in NRL DT, and should play close to the entire match, even with Kurt Gidley on the bench. Smith is a tackling machine, but won’t kick for goal as he does for his club. This factor alone may turn some off, but if you pick Smith in your squad, he is a VC candidate at the very least.
Paul Gallen | 2RF/FRF | Australia
The Cronulla and NSW skipper is another DT superstar who is more than worth considering. With just one prop on the bench (Nate Myles), coach Tim Sheens has indicated that Gallen will move into the front row as the match progresses. Expect another herculean effort.
Shaun Johnson | HLF | New Zealand
The Kiwis halfback has been scoring well for the Warriors this season, averaging just under 48 DT points per game in 2013. Will be heavily involved in New Zealand’s attack, and can find his way to the try line. If you expect the Kiwis to put some points on the Holden Kangaroos, Johnson is your man.
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Johnathan Thurston | HLF | Australia
Thurston owners in NRL DT will know he is prone the occasional low score, but there’s no denying this man’s class. Always rises to the occasion in these important games, and will be handling goal kicking duties for the home nation. Think Australia might score a big win? You could do far worse than JT.
Issac Luke | HOK | New Zealand
In Test Match Dream Team, finding your point of difference is crucial. While you’d expect most to select Smith in their side, don’t forget about the Rabbitohs and New Zealand no. 9. While Elijah Taylor could spend some time at hooker, Luke doesn’t need to play the full 80 in order to score well. If he does play big minutes, that’s a bonus. A few tackle breaks, maybe even a try, and you could have a winner in Luke on your hands.
Wildcards: Jason Nightingale/Brett Morris | WFB | New Zealand/Australia
I’ve gone with the St George Illawarra teammates as my wildcards. Both are capable of big totals on their day, but will need to be amongst the tries and make plenty of metres to do so. They aren’t the safest of options - that’s exactly why they’re the wildcards. Pick your winner in the match, and then pick either of these two speedsters. It’s a one-off game... what have you got to lose?
As far as captaincy strategies go, there are four main options, depending on how daring you wish to be. At one end of the spectrum, you can stick with the tried and true DT heroes (ie. Smith, Gallen) as your captain and vice. If you want to mix things up slightly, keep a DT workhorse as your skipper, and introduce a wildcard (eg. Nightingale) as your VC. Alternatively, pick a wildcard as your skipper, and have a solid 50-point player as your deputy. But if you want to go for broke, go all out and select players out of left field in both positions. As I mentioned previously, it’s all about finding your unique options in this variation of the DT game, because let’s face it, there’s plenty of people that will have the same team!