NRL Fantasy Finals: Grand Final preview
This is it: the game that will decide the NRL premiership, and the final game of the NRL Fantasy season. The $2000 NRL Fantasy Finals prize is up for grabs, so which players should you be picking for your six-man line-up this week?
Cameron Smith is not only the clear front-runner for this position, but also for the captaincy in your team. The best NRL Fantasy player of them all, Smith averaged almost 67 points per game across the regular season – 26 more than Sharks rake Michael Ennis. Only take Ennis if you need to take a big gamble here.
Jesse Bromwich is arguably the best front-rower in rugby league but in Fantasy terms Sharks prop Andrew Fifita is the man, with a combination of a barnstorming running game and a surprisingly high defensive workload earning him 63 points a week. Bromwich meanwhile is a 50-point player, while Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen is another quality option but one that is also available in the second row.
There are a lot of quality options here, with Gallen the frontrunner but Storm second-rower Tohu Harris not far behind. Harris outscored Gallen 51 to 39 last week and averaged 52 across the season. Kevin Proctor is another 50-point player, while Cronulla veteran Luke Lewis made 58 (including a try) against the Cowboys.
James Maloney was sensational last weekend, making a massive 103 Fantasy points including two tries and seven tackle breaks, and while he'll struggle to get near that score against Melbourne he's a great option for your Fantasy side. Of course, Cooper Cronk isn't a bad player either, scoring 54 last week, and if the Storm get up he'll probably out-point Maloney in this one. Chad Townsend, Blake Green and dual-position option Ben Barba are the long shots.
This is usually the trickiest position to fill but there is some form to go off from both teams with Jack Bird (58) and Cheyse Blair (54) both performing well last weekend. As usual, the smart move is to pick outside backs from the team you expect to win, with attacking points crucial for this position. Picking the right centre can be a lottery in a one-off game so don't write off Ricky Leutele and Will Chambers either.
Cameron Munster is the only 50-point player available here, and the Storm fullback has been terrific since replacing Billy Slater at the start of the season. He made 50 last week and unlike the likes of Ben Barba he doesn't rely on scoring plays for big scores, thanks to his knack for breaking tackles. Of course, a winger who grabs a few tries could outscore both Munster and Barba – and Suliasi Vunivalu and Valentine Holmes both rank in the NRL's top four try-scorers – but if the game is as close as expected it's likely either Munster or Barba will get the most valuable option at the back.