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6 Nations

Week for the Subs; Fantasy Rugby Week 2 Guide

With teams making changes to their starting line-ups from last weekend, substitutes could be the area that you splash the cash on this week

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As we head into round two of this year’s 6 Nations campaign, there are questions to be answered, teams are looking to build but who should you pick for your fantasy team?

The first game of the weekend sees Ireland head to Scotland in search of their first points of the championship against the current table-toppers. You have until the kick-off at 14 15 tomorrow to select your team.

Between these two teams you have a number of quality players to pick from. For the hosts, full-back Staurt Hogg will cost you 17.1 stars after going up in value following his impressive display last weekend.

With the metres he runs in a match and his ability to make chances out of nothing it could be money well spent.

Elsewhere for the Scots, fly-half Finn Russell will cost you 15.3 stars, while the ever reliable Greig Laidlaw comes in at 15.4.

A man to look out for is the returning Jonny Gray, who comes into the second-row and will only cost 12.7 stars.

Ireland are a team looking for result and that means that the entire starting XV could be dangerous news for the Scots.

In terms of the best to pick from that 15 you would have to look towards last years player of the tournament Jacob Stockdale, who is 14.7 stars, and is on a mission to make up for his costly mistake last weekend.

Other players searching for self-improvement are the likes of Johnny Sexton, 14.7 stars, and Conor Murray, 14.2 stars.

In terms of players that have come into the team, watch out for Rob Kearney, 12.7 stars, who has a point to prove. Chris Farrell, 11.7 stars, who won man of the match in his only previous 6 Nations start, and Jack Conan, 10.8 stars, who will be hoping to impress as the only out and out No 8 in the current squad.

Later that evening Italy host a much-changed Wales team.

Sergio Parisse is always a player to look out for at 11.6 stars, along with Michele Campagnaro, 12.2 stars, as the Italians look for an upset.

Jayden Hayward, 11 stars, is down as wing but starts at full-back, while Tommaso Allan is always a live-wire at out-half and is only 10.9 stars.

With the Welsh making 10 changes there will be players hoping to impress. Dan Biggar, 14.5 stars, comes in at fly-half and is a reliable source of points, while Jonathan Davies, 14.8 stars, starts in the centre and usually puts in a good shift.

Last weeks top performer George North misses out through injury, so if you want other Welsh players to put into your starting 15 maybe consider Josh Navidi, 13.8 stars, who was impressive against France. While Aaron Wainwright, 10.8 stars, has been in good form this season and would be worth taking a gamble on.

The final game of the weekend is the clash of England and France.

England will hope to build on last weekend’s win over Ireland and top performers, Jonny May, 16.4 stars, Owen Farrell, 16.2 stars, and Billy Vunipola, 15.9 stars, all start.

A player to watch is Courtney Lawes, 14.4 stars, who puts in an incredible amount of work and will want to make sure he starts the next game too with a big performance.

The visitors have a point to prove after letting a 16-point lead go against Wales. Mathieu Bastareaud, 13.7 stars, comes into the centre and will be a constant threat to the English following his omission last time out.

Louis Picamoles, 14.8 stars, was incredible even in defeat and will surely give another stellar performance this week. Guilhem Guirado, 14.4 stars, is another big-game player, while wing and try scorer last weekend, Yoann Huget, 13.6 stars, switches to full-back and is worth a look.

As mentioned at the top the key this week could be your bench and there are some serious options to pick from.

Last week’s player of the round, Blair Kinghorn, who scored a hat-trick against Italy, drops to the Scottish bench and will cost you 14.5 stars. He might be worth a gamble but is down as a fly-half.

Ireland’s Josh Van Der Flier, who made 19 tackles against England last Saturday, is also on the bench and is available for only 10.8 stars.

Italy’s Edoardo Gori, 10 stars, is a constant ball of energy when unleashed onto the pitch and could cause the Welsh problems in the latter stages of the game.

Wales’ stand-out player on the bench is captain Alun Wyn Jones, however, he is a pricy 15.6 stars.

England have the powerful Nathan Hughes, 12.6 stars, to come on and could be an option.

While France’s Romain Ntamack, 11.9 stars, is the top pick on their bench and could gain a lot of metres while running if he comes on against tired English legs.

Make sure to have a look through the teams before selecting your own, but with the power of the benches and the games super-sub option, it would seem that splashing the cash on a couple of hard-hitting subs might be worthwhile.

6 Nations

Scotland Suffer Major Six Nations Blow

Scotland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland in just over a week

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Scotland could be without fly-half Finn Russell for the entire Six Nations campaign according to reports after he left the team camp of his own accord.

BBC Sport are reporting that the 27-year-old Racing 92 star has breached “team protocol” and it has been confirmed by Scottish Rugby that he will not feature during the team’s opening game against Ireland on February 1st. 

“Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener,” a statement read.

Some believed that the player was injured during last weekend’s Champions Cup defeat to Saracens while on club duty, but there are growing concerns that there may be tension between Russell and head coach Gregor Townsend. 

Russell has had problems before with the coaches tactics and didn’t hide anything following last year’s Six Nations draw with England, when the Scots came back from 31-7 at half-time to draw 38-all in the end. 

“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time]. I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’. Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby,” he said after the game last March.

However, there is no certainty as to what is the actual reason behind the scenario, but Russell will in fact head back to Racing for now. 

It is a huge blow for Scotland with Russell being one of the more experienced players among a young group, but it appears as though Adam Hastings would be most likely to take his place. However, fans will be worried with it being unknown whether or not their skillful playmaker will be involved at all during this year’s competition. 

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6 Nations

Smith Defends Parisse “Send-Off” Decision

Italian head coach Franco Smith has defended the decision to allow Sergio Parisse play only one game in the Six Nations this year in order to give him a send-off

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(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

New Italy head coach Franco Smith has come out to defend the decision to allow Sergio Parisse have a send-off in the team’s final home match in the upcoming Six Nations campaign.

It has been confirmed that former captain Parisse, who has a total of 142-caps to his name for the side will not be involved at any other point of the competition other than their game against England in Rome on March 14th. 

The 36-year-old had planned to make his final appearance against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup pool stages last year, only for the game to be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. Smith believes that it is only right to give Parisse one last chance to play in blue. 

“Sergio will be involved in the last game with England and he has a lot to contribute. I said to Sergio two days ago not to worry and he doesn’t want to let the team down. I said we would stick to the plan and I will help him settle in and give him the best opportunity to play as well as he can. There was a misinterpretation that it will be a goodbye game and that is not the case and the agreement we have is that he is going to contribute one last time. We have turned the page, but he (Parisse) is a player of stature and deserves a send-off, but it is not just a send-off game and we hope he can make a difference and contribute from a leadership point of view and also be the icon we can follow,” he said. 

Smith thinks that the other players in the squad may gain motivation by seeing Parisse get a send-off as they will see what could happen to them if they reach the high-levels he has. 

“If other players see the send-off that Sergio gets then that will inspire them to be as good as they can be in an Italian jersey as well. He will come into camp when he can but we have also made an agreement with his club in France. He was a leader for Italian rugby for so long that very few leaders were developed and now it is time for a new leadership group and we have identified seven players of which Luca Bigi is the captain. Sergio will come and contribute for old time’s sake,” he added. 

The news has got a mixed reception from some fans, but maybe it will be something to motivate younger players in the squads as Smith believes. 

Meanwhile, the new head coach, who took over from Conor O’Shea following the World Cup, is looking to Japan for inspiration with his new side. 

“I want to help the team get to the next level and the game is going to change. Japan helped with the way they went about it ( at the World Cup) saying they couldn’t beat other teams with the way they play and we have to find our own way. I think that will be a point of reference (for us). For a long time Italy played in a way to beat teams not necessarily with their own game. The pressure game has been a feature of the last six or seven years and attack is the most difficult area to coach,” he finished up on. 

Italy face a tough task heading into the campaign with current Grand Slam holders Wales up first on February 1st, with the Azzurri looking to end a run of 22 defeats in a row in the tournament.

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6 Nations

Former Scotland Star Fearing Tough Six Nations Campaign

Former Scotland star Scott Hastings is fearing the worst for his country as they head into the Six Nations

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(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Former Scotland centre Scott Hastings has predicted a tough Six Nations campaign for the national side as they go through a period of transition.

The 65-cap Scot believes that last year was expected to be the year where Scotland produced their best, but they failed and they are now trying to figure things out with a younger squad. 

Some of those youngsters have starred for club and country including the likes of Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury, but Hastings is worried that they will lack the guidance of experienced players with veterans such as Greig Laidlaw, John Barclay and Tommy Seymour retiring after last year’s Rugby World Cup

“I think Scotland are in for a tough season. There is a new era ahead. The team needs to try to put the World Cup to bed but they have lost three experienced heads in Laidlaw, Barclay and Seymour. There needs to be a new energy coming into the team and you can see Gregor is trying to do that with the six uncapped players he has included in his Six Nations squad. But has Gregor learned from the failure of last year? There was a lot of expectancy on the team but they imploded on numerous occasions,” he said while speaking to PA news agency. 

With that in mind Hastings believes that other players in the squad need to step up including Finn Russell, who is now one of the most experienced players in the squad. 

“The things we need to see is how does George Horne become that experienced player, how does Finn Russell strike that balance between exuberance, mercurial brilliance with also the need to be pinpoint accurate so he can deliver a winning performance for Scotland. In the forwards, how does Zander Fagerson turn himself into the number one tighthead in the Six Nations, how does Jonny Gray become the Alun Wyn Jones of Scottish rugby?” he added. 

However, he doesn’t believe that Scotland will be the only side in transition this year with Ireland and Wales in a similar boat in his eyes. While he is backing the title to head to either England or France this season. 

“I think Ireland and Wales are going through something a bit of a transitional period, similar to Scotland. England and France undoubtedly look like the teams to beat but I’m afraid Scotland are looking at fourth, fifth and sixth. I know that sounds harsh and when I played I certainly never went into a season thinking like that. But while I’m still a passionate Scotland supporter this time I’ve got to lead my head rule my heart. They have shown in glimpses that they can play well but you need more than that to compete for a Six Nations title,” he finished up with. 

Scotland will want an improvement from last season, where they only managed a win against Italy and a draw with England in the Six Nations as well as exiting the World Cup in the pool stages. 

However, they face a tough task this time around with their opening game against an Ireland side under new management and eager to impress their new coaches.

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