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Fantasy Rugby 2019 - Popular players

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It is now as easy to measure the countdown to the Six Nations in hours as in days, with the first match - France v Wales - kicking off in Paris on Friday evening. And that means time for you to finalise your ESPN Fantasy Rugby team is disappearing fast.

If you are still looking to make the final tweaks of your core team before it is locked-in for the opening weekend, you might be interested to learn who everyone else is picking. So, here's a rundown of the most popular players by Fantasy Rugby competition position.

The question only you can answer is whether you will follow the pack's lead, or go your own maverick player route? Remember, these guys could help you keep up with the crowd, but you need to find someone a little different to break away.

Front row

Top choice: Guilhem Guirado (France)

The only French player to top the positional most-popular player pick in Fantasy Rugby - which probably says a lot about the state of French rugby, or at least your opinion of it. Guirado won't let you down, and has developed something of a scoring habit in recent internationals, something which he - and thousands of Fantasy Rugby managers - will be hoping to continue in this tournament.

Followed by: Mako Vunipola (England); Rory Best (Ireland); Tadhg Furlong (Ireland); Ken Owens (Wales)

Second Row

Top choice: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

It really is hard, bordering on impossible, to argue with anyone who picks the Wales captain in their boiler room. He gives every last drop of sweat from kick-off until he leaves the pitch, completely gassed, somewhere near the final whistle. This is not traditionally a high-scoring Fantasy Rugby position, so you are probably wise to select a tireless warhorse like AWJ, who will keep doing a job until there's no more job to do.

Followed by: Jonny Gray (Scotland); Maro Itoje (England); Joe Launchbury (England); Sebastien Vahaamahina (France)

Back Row

Top choice: Sergio Parisse (Italy)

An interesting selection, here, with the Italian legend ahead of Ireland's CJ Stander by the narrowest of margins. There may be a touch of the old romantics in a number of Fantasy Rugby management choices, with Parisse hinting this could be his last Six Nations. There's no doubt he has been the most remarkable of servants to his country since making his international debut in 2002. Does he have one big tournament - or even two - left in him? We'll see.

Followed by: CJ Stander (Ireland); Billy Vunipola (England); Justin Tipuric (Wales); Josh Navidi (Wales)

Scrum Half

Top choice: Grieg Laidlaw (Scotland)

A fourth captain makes this popular picks list in top spot - and he was well ahead of second-placed Conor Murray, too, at the time of writing. Laidlaw has his critics, but he's got the trust of coach Gregor Townsend to marshall that exciting and pretty rapid Scottish backline and kick those points whenever the opportunity arises. He rarely lets his boss down. He won't let you down, either.

Followed by: Conor Murray (Ireland); Ben Youngs (England); Morgan Parra (France); Antoine Dupont (France)

Fly Half

Top choice: Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

You clearly all decided that last year's fly-half of the Fantasy Rugby tournament, Italy's Tommaso Allan, was a bit of a fluke. You may be right - and it's precisely no surprise that World Player of the Year Sexton is top of most Fantasy Rugby managers' fly-half choices. You all know what he can do. You all know he'll do it in every game. It will take something astonishing to stop him making the team of the tournament this year.

Followed by: Finn Russell (Scotland); Tommaso Allan (Italy); George Ford (England); Dan Biggar (Wales)

Centre

Top choice: Owen Farrell (England)

Another position, another - albeit temporary in this case - captain. Farrell is to Jones's England what Sexton is to Schmidt's Ireland, for all that he generally shifts to inside centre to accommodate George Ford at 10. He's another one who'll do his job and do it well almost regardless of circumstances - and it's interesting to see what looks an awful lot like a three-way split in kicking duties between 9, 10 and centre options.

Followed by: Huw Jones (Scotland); Hadleigh Parkes (Wales); Garry Ringrose (Ireland); Wesley Fofana (France)

Outside Backs

Top choice: Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)

We've said previously that seven tries in a tournament will get you noticed. It clearly did with Ireland winger Stockdale, who had been selected in two-thirds of all teams at the time of writing. No pressure, Jacob, but Fantasy Rugby managers are expecting more of the same this year... Slightly surprising to see Halfpenny in the top five, too, given he's not playing in the opener - so expect him to drop rapidly down the list as kick-off nears.

Followed by: Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Jonny May (England); Leigh Halfpenny (Wales); Liam Williams (Wales)