Let the games begin
August 29, 2010
Luke Watson is in our fantasy side at No.8 © Getty Images
Luke Arscott Chris Ashton Dave Attwood Schalk Brits Matt Carraro Martin Castrogiovanni Mark Cueto Phil Dowson Nick Evans Jonny Golding Seilala Mapusua Tom Rees Luke Watson Marco Wentzel Ben Youngs
This season the Aviva Premiership will not only be fought on the famous fields of English rugby, but also on ESPNscrum's latest fantasy game - Premiership Fantasy Rugby 2010-11.
After the success of our Six Nations game we thought it only fair to allow you another shot at some great prizes - and also a further chance to humiliate your mates with your superior selection skills and tactical nous.
The season kicks off on September 3 with Sale taking on Newcastle before the London Double Header takes over Twickenham the next day. Reigning champions Leicester enter the fray with a massive derby clash against Northampton, beaten semi-finalists last time out. Newly-promoted Exeter are at home in round one, to Gloucester, while their predecessors, Leeds, have a massive game against Bath at Headingley.
All you have to do is select your best XV, with no more than four players from any Aviva Premiership club and the right number of players in each position (three front-row forwards, two locks, three back-rowers, one scrum-half, one fly-half, two centres and three outside backs). You can make 40 changes throughout the season, bearing in mind the November Tests and Six Nations periods, and can swap your kicker to your heart's content.
Up until kick-off on September 3 you can make unlimited changes, with players set to accrue points throughout the season based on their Aviva Premiership performance. In the spirit of competition we've selected our team for the opening round of matches, giving you the chance to agree with or ridicule our picks for the big kick-off.
At fullback we've gone for Luke Arscott, new-boys Exeter's big summer signing. The former Bristol flyer has plenty of Premiership experience and a lot of desire after a season in the Championship. He knows Exeter as opponents and could provide a boost to their survival hopes.
It's all-England on the wings. Sale's Mark Cueto will be as solid as ever and will be hoping to find the try-line more often in a new-look squad, while it was impossible to ignore Northampton's try-machine Chris Ashton after he topped the charts last season.
In the midfield we've got a combination of pace, power and finesse as Bath's impressive Australian recruit Matt Carraro teams up with London Irish's classy playmaker Seilala Mapusua, the 2009 Premiership Player of the Season. Pulling the strings at fly-half is the mercurial former All Black Nick Evans, who is back for more with Harlequins.
In the No.9 jersey is Ben Youngs, fresh from almost single-handedly lifting English rugby's spirits with his display in the second Test win over Australia in June. The Leicester scrum-half will likely miss more Premiership rugby this season due to his Test commitments - but it should be worth it.
The Premiership is chock-full of quality front-row options and we've a cosmopolitan selection as Saracens' livewire South African hooker Schalk Brits packs down alongside Leicester's legendary tight-head Martin Castrogiovanni and Newcastle's fast-improving loose-head Jon Golding. Locking the scrum are Gloucester's Dave Attwood and Leeds captain Marco Wentzel, who will provide a mixture of graft and power. Attwood is fresh from earning his spurs on England's summer tours, while Wentzel came to embody the grit and determination of his side during their survival season in 2009-10.
The back-row is another area of depth in the Premiership. England skipper Lewis Moody must watch from the sidelines for now after Wasps openside Tom Rees bagged our No.7 jersey. On the other flank is Northampton's Mr. Versatile Phil Dowson, who was the standout performer in their march to the semis last season. At No.8 there is space for the superb Luke Watson, who leads Bath this season and will be typically forthright in his efforts.
Let the games begin.
ESPNscrum's Fantasy XV: Luke Arscott (Exeter); Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Matt Carraro (Bath), Seilala Mapusua (London Irish), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints); Nick Evans (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Jon Golding (Newcastle), Schalk Brits (Saracens), Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), Dave Attwood (Gloucester), Marco Wentzel (Leeds), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), Tom Rees (Wasps), Luke Watson (Bath)
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