<
>

Fantasy Rugby - Best Six Nations players by country

The clock is ticking to the opening match of the 2020 Six Nations between Wales and Italy at the Principality Stadium on Feb. 1, so we figured it was time we looked at the key players who could boost your Fantasy Rugby score and send you to the top of the table.

- Click here to pick your ESPN Fantasy Rugby team!

ESPN Fantasy Rugby 2020 is all about picking the players who you think will score the most points throughout the tournament. But there's a catch, as you can only pick a maximum of four players from each nation. With that in mind, here are three players from each country -- listed in 2019 finishing position order -- who should receive your serious consideration.

Wales

Alun Wyn Jones

It is actually against Fantasy Rugby law not to mention Jones in any best-player list that references Wales. There are reasons, such as his incredible tackle count. And his tireless work rate. And his lineout go-to-ness. And his World Rugby Player of the Year nomination. And the fact he's Alun Wyn Jones. Just pick him.

Aaron Wainwright

Such is Wainwright's rise since his debut in June 2018 that he's being favourably mentioned in the same sentences as former Wales captain Sam Warburton. That kind of comparison may be a little premature, but it would be a mistake to ignore Wainwright.

Josh Adams

Want an attacking weapon who breaks lines like week-old grissini? Look no further. Adams scored seven tries at the 2019 World Cup to break Shane Williams' single-tournament record for a Welsh player. He hasn't stopped scoring since coming home from Japan, either. It's a fair bet that he'll add more in this Six Nations.

England

Maro Itoje

Last year, he was good. This year, he's even better. Put it this way: Itoje is at the point in his career now where keyboard warriors madly try to point out what he's done wrong or illegally before he's done it. If it has got them frothing over the send button, you're on to a good thing.

Kyle Sinckler

Got to love no-backward-step Sinckler. Got to love the fact that, at the first sign of brewing trouble, Itoje quickly grabs his collar and gently guides him elsewhere. Also got to love the combination of front-row oomph and back line skill.

Tom Curry

He was a World Player of the Year nominee. That's pretty much all you need to know. He and Alun Wyn Jones are the two Six Nations players rated among the six leading players in the world in 2019. You just can't ignore that.


Ireland

James Ryan

Yeah, making it difficult for Fantasy Rugby managers looking for inspiration with a third second-row. But you can't ignore the Leinster lad with Paul O'Connell-level legend potential. AWJ, Itoje or Ryan. Tough call.

Jordan Larmour

You saw him at the World Cup, right? Larmour has pace to burn, ankle-breaking footwork and support line awareness that will have Irish management purring and opposition defence coaches waking up with night sweats. You'll want some of that.

Garry Ringrose

What? No Johnny Sexton? What's going on? There's a change coming in the Ireland setup and midfield man Ringrose will probably be at its heart, rather than the old out-half. Ringrose had a decent World Cup -- until the All Blacks lesson, at least.


France

Romain Ntamack

France have very much gone for youth this year, with only one player -- Bernard Le Roux -- on the 30-side of 30. Ntamack is 20, was named World Rugby's Breakthrough Player of the Year in November, and is one of the players Fabien Galthie is looking to build France's 2023 and '27 World Cup tilts around.

Virimi Vakatawa

Don't, whatever you do, mention Vakatawa's name to a Munster fan -- it's cruel to see them recall what the Racing centre did to their team in the fifth round of the Champions Cup. And here's a secret for Fantasy Rugby managers -- he's been doing it for club and country for some time now.

Antoine Dupont

It's frightening to consider how good the 23-year-old could become, given the impression he has made in a France side that has, to date, been unworthy of his talents. Surrounded by a skilled and fearless young France squad, we might soon see the very best of him.

Scotland

Finn Russell

The fly-half is having a ball at the heart of a pulsating Racing 92 outfit, where he has been given the licence to be the best Finn he can be, but his tournament is in doubt after he was dropped ahead of Scotland's opener against Ireland due to disciplinary reasons...

George Horne

Along with Ali Price, Horne is the present and future of Scottish scrum-halves following wee Greig Laidlaw's international retirement after the World Cup. It would be wrong to say hat trick Horne was a revelation at the World Cup -- that would suggest no one had been paying him any attention beforehand, but he did enough to get a good grip on that No. 9 shirt.

WP Nel

Props are not monster Fantasy Rugby points scorers, but Nel will get you more than his fair share, with strong performance after strong performance in the scrum -- his natural habitat -- and out of it.


Italy

Jake Polledri

Are you looking for the work of three back-rowers and a line-busting powerhouse centre in one glorious package? Look no further. It has been an exceptional 12 months or so for the 24-year-old Gloucester player. Expect many more exceptional years to come.

Braam Steyn

Or Abraham, to use his Sunday name. Sergio Parisse will get his glorious farewell in one of Italy's two home games in Rome, and it's no less than he deserves, but Steyn is the player stepping into his role at the base of the scrum. Big boots to fill. Big-game player to fill them.

Matteo Minozzi

Four tries in successive Six Nations outings in 2018, following an eye-opening debut in November 2017... then out for a year recovering from an ACL injury. And Italy missed him. Genuinely worth his spot in any 2020 Six Nations Fantasy Rugby team.