So your mate's asked you to join their NRL Fantasy comp this season, but you don't know much – or anything – about fantasy footy. Here's why you should play.
Every NRL game gets more interesting
Playing NRL Fantasy will change the way you watch the Telstra Premiership. Nothing compares to cheering on your favourite NRL team to victory, but cheering on the players in your Fantasy team comes pretty close.
Suddenly the eight games every week matter to you in a way they didn't before.
You don't have to be a Rabbitohs fan to enjoy seeing Damien Cook carving a hole through a defensive line if he's your Fantasy captain and you don't have to love the Roosters to cheer on James Tedesco as he busts a tackle or three on the way to the line if he's your starting fullback.
Even watching Cameron Smith or Cameron McInnes gradually rack up 50 tackles in a game becomes surprisingly satisfying when they're in your team.
Become a footy expert in no time
Think you know your footy now? Play NRL Fantasy for a season and you'll become a guru when it comes to the game's rising stars.
Spotting the best rookies and improving players is crucial to success in Fantasy, so when you see certain players rise in value in the early part of the season you'll be ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying the next Nathan Cleary or Kalyn Ponga.
Bragging rights against your mates
Having a good week on the footy tips is great but taking on a friend across the weekend in a head-to-head Fantasy match-up is better.
The trash talk begins at the start of the week and only heats up when the footy starts on Thursday night, with bragging rights going to whoever's team wins out by the end of the round on Sunday.
The ultimate bragging rights are up for grabs at the end of the regular season, with all teams in the league chasing glory in their comp's grand final.
It's addictively fun
One day you're picking a starting squad, then you're winning a few head-to-head games, and soon you find yourself thinking about your Fantasy team almost constantly – checking up on the latest Sione Katoa injury news, searching for clues about how many minutes Jai Arrow will play that week, puzzling over whether a positional switch will help or hurt Connor Watson's scoring potential.
You'll find a mate who's becoming equally obsessed with Fantasy and debate whether Viliame Kikau's a better bet than Sam Burgess. As far as addictions go, it's not a bad one to have.
Last year's NRL Fantasy champion will be flown to Perth with a friend for a VIP trip to State of Origin II, including two night's accommodation, food and drink vouchers and exclusive event activities around the game.
This year's winner will win $10,000 plus a trip for two to the International Nines tournament, with three night's accommodation, while there are cash prizes for 2nd ($4000), 3rd ($3000), 4th ($2000) and 5th place ($1000).
The Fantasy team with the highest value at the end of the season will win $500 for their coach. There are also weekly cash prizes (and KFC vouchers) up for grabs for the top five scoring teams every round, and 16 prize packs for the best Fantasy players among fans of each NRL club (provided by the club).
Every person who starts their own league with 16 or more players also goes into a draw to win a VIP trip for two to the NRL grand final.
It's free to play
That's right, all of the above doesn't cost you a cent. It's free to register and play NRL Fantasy in Classic or Draft mode, the apps are free on iPhone and Android, and you'll get free reminder notifications via the app.
A subscription to Coach gives you access to advanced stats but playing the game itself is absolutely free, and you'll also get a free trial of Coach at the start of the season.
NRL.com will also give you a ton of tips and hints throughout the season via the Lone Scout's weekly articles and the NRL Fantasy Podcast.