Scout Report: Test Match Fantasy guide
Want to win a signed and framed Test jersey? Pick the right six players in Test Match Fantasy this week and it could be yours.
Test Match Fantasy works the same way as Thursday Match Day Fantasy – pick six players from either team in Friday night's Australia v New Zealand Test (you could pick six Aussies, six Kiwis, or a combination of both) and then name your captain and vice captain. That's it.
Your captain will earn triple points, and your vice captain earns double. Scoring is the same as regular NRL Fantasy (1 point for a tackle, 8 for a try, etc), and you have to pick one player for each of the six designated positions.
To help, here's my guide to the safe bets and wild cards up for grabs.
Safe bet: This will be the simplest choice in your squad, particularly with the man named to wear the No.9 for New Zealand – Lewis Brown – not actually included in the hooker position in Test Match Fantasy (the Manly utility is down as a second-rower/centre instead). That means Kangaroos skipper and NRL Fantasy supremo Cameron Smith is your man unless you are keen to make a big gamble.
Wild card: Kodi Nikorima is the Kiwis' bench hooker/utility and the only alternative to Smith here (New Zealand 19th man Danny Levi is also available but won't play) so if you have a strong feeling Nikorima will poach a try or two from the bench he could be worth a go. But it'd be quite a gamble.
Safe bets: There are a lot of options here, with NRL Fantasy legends Paul Gallen and Corey Parker both included as dual-position players and in-form Storm and Kiwis prop Jesse Bromwich available as well. Based on this year's scores Gallen or Bromwich are the best bets – or you could get Bromwich here and Gallen in the second row.
Wild cards: Josh McGuire is no Fantasy slouch, although it'll be tough for him to post a huge Fantasy score from the bench. The dark horse is probably Cowboys star Matt Scott, who is usually a mid-40s scorer in Fantasy but has shown he can go massive in one-off games with a stunning 100-point effort for the Cowboys last season.
Safe bets: As mentioned above, Gallen is in great Fantasy form – although he'll be playing at prop for Australia rather than his usual lock position and may spend more time on the bench. Corey Parker is a proven performer on the big stage (he was Queensland's best in last year's Origin series win) and could be a great captaincy option in this one – although keep in mind he won't kick goals as he does for Brisbane.
Wild cards: Tohu Harris has been in brilliant Fantasy form for the Storm this season, and he should get plenty of chances to run the ball after being named at five-eighth for the Kiwis – although the switch to the halves is likely to take a toll on his defensive workload. New Zealand wrecking balls Jason Taumalolo and Martin Taupau could also do some damage to the Kangaroos defensive line, with starting lock Taumalolo likely to get more action than bench impact forward Taupau.
Safe bet: Shaun Johnson is the front-runner here, both because of the Kiwis' recent dominance over the Kangaroos but also because he's likely to take on the vast majority of the playmaking duties (kick metres, assists) for his team alongside a makeshift halves partner in Harris. He's also a fantastic Fantasy scorer on his day.
Wild cards: Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk often split the points when playing together at rep level, with Cronk usually doing more of the general play kicking while Thurston kicks goals and is a little more likely to pick up attacking stats like try assists. In saying that, Cronk is in good try-scoring touch at the moment. Kangaroos impact man Michael Morgan is the long-shot option if you are a big fan of the Cowboys pivot and feel like taking a gamble.
Safe bets: It's a position where consistent scores are hard to come by in Fantasy, but your safest bet is Josh Dugan who is both defensively sound and notoriously hard to stop – meaning he's as good a chance as anyone to rack up a few tackle breaks at 3 points a pop. His centre partner Greg Inglis is your next best bet – particularly if you can see the Rabbitohs skipper taking out his frustrations on the Kiwis after his team's poor club form and grabbing a few tries.
Wild card: Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been in fantastic touch for the Roosters this season but has been ruled out with a foot injury. Gerard Beale could be a left-field pick for centre but there's also the option of buying Lewis Brown here, with Brown likely to get through a fair bit of defensive work at hooker.
Safe bet: Both Dugan and Inglis are also available at fullback where they play at club level, so you can pick one here if you've got the other at centre.
Wild card: Who's going to score the tries? That's the question you've got to take a guess at when picking this player. Kangaroos rookie Semi Radradra certainly knows his way to the tryline, while fellow flanker Blake Ferguson should get plenty of chances playing alongside old teammate Dugan. If you're backing the Kiwis to get home in this one, speedser Dallin-Watene Zelezniak could be your smokie.
Best of luck to your team, here’s hoping you can claim that signed jersey.