How the Herald team picked their Ultimate League squads

Drafting a fantasy team can be daunting whatever the circumstances, but when your league consists of some NRL experts (and wannabe-experts), the pressure is even higher.

Roosters fan Phil Mitchell took Sonny Bill Williams with the first pick, shocking nobody. Even the most ardent detractor of Trent Robinson's side couldn't deny the talent of the dual international SBW.

As you'd expect, the run of big name forwards continued as the cream-of-the-crop of fantasy players flew off the board; Paul Zalunardo grabbing Corey Parker, Adrian Proszenko taking Paul Gallen, Michael Chammas drafting Cameron Smith and Brad Walter going with Sharks workhorse Andrew Fifita.

Robbie Farah was snapped up by Chris Boulous before Sam Burgess went to Michael Carayannis and Shaun Fensom became Paul Suttor's first pick.

The first surprise came with Dom Bossi choosing James Maloney with the ninth overall pick - though it won't be a huge shock if the gun Roosters pivot repeats his excellent 2013 campaign.

As a Souths fan I was stoked to get Greg Inglis tenth, before the first round wrapped up with Daniel Lane taking Trent Merrin, and James Polson going with Jamie Lyon.

After the first round the decisions become a lot harder. Is he injured? Is he really going to get the ball playing on the end of THAT backline? Oh my god, did I just draft the wrong Foran brother?!

Having to fill a 13 man squad with six reserves, a 19-round draft is not particularly long and allows for many different strategies. Chammas was stoked to have a team “Full of X-Factors” as he stockpiled outside backs in the hopes that trade offers will come rolling in.

Others chose to focus on squads that are likely to nab a lot of fantasy points, and Warriors players became coveted very early on. English imports come with somewhat of an unknown quantity but that didn't keep Sam Tomkins on the board for very long - Zalunardo claiming the new Warriors recruit in the second round. Lee Mossop was stashed on Daniel Lane's bench towards the end of the draft, primed for his Round 10 return.

Although it wasn't all good news for foreign imports with Frenchman Remi Casty going undrafted.

You also can't hold grudges based on team loyalties in fantasy sports, although I did feel somewhat traitorous as a Rabbitohs fan by grabbing a Bulldog (James Graham) and a Rooster (Jared Waerea-Hargreaves) with my second and third picks.

By the time the draft ended, some people were telling anyone that would listen about how great their squad was, and others were already trying to trade players away.

Fantasy football is all about proving you know more than your mates, but in a league full of blokes who get paid to know more about NRL than their mates, the stakes are even higher.

The story How the Herald team picked their Ultimate League squads first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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