Six players to look out for at World Cup, after a thrilling Six Nations finale


Robbie Henshaw

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Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Anyone worried about the post Brian O’Driscoll/Gordon D’Arcy era in terms of Irish centres will have had their fears somewhat allayed as the 21-year-old — well supported by the New Zealand-born Jared Payne — has been outstanding since being give the nod by coach Joe Schmidt. Fearless in the tackle, real bonecrunchers to boot, he used his Gaelic football background as a schoolboy to good effect when climbing higher than Alex Goode to score the Irish try in the left hand corner in the win over England. A dazzling prospect for the years to come.


Jonathan Joseph

Source: Mike Egerton

Who needs the power of Manu Tuilagi when the younger man has filled his role so effectively at centre starting with a try in the impressive win over Wales in Cardiff. A couple of errors in the loss to Ireland exposed a bit of rawness in the 23-year-old but against France in the epic 55-35 victory he made some eye-catching breaks, none more so than for the early try by Ben Youngs and then a stunning run from under his posts which ultimately led to Youngs going under the posts for his second try. His vision and creativity, properly channelled, could be a major boon for England at the World Cup.


Rhys Webb

Source: EMPICS Sport

The long and largely distinguished first team service of Mike Phillips is over and this 25-year-old scrum-half has made the starting spot his own after a superb Six Nations. Apart from scoring three tries he was a lively presence all over the pitch and his positional kicking was for the main impressive. Formed an effective halfback partnership with Dan Biggar and they could prove to be a potent weapon in the World Cup as Wales seek to win it for the first time.


Scott Spedding

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The South African-born fullback wept uncontrollably when first selected for a squad last November, sadly in this tournament there have been few occasions for such tears of joy. However, having looked unadventurous and keener to use his brick wall physique in defence the 28-year-old has become more adventurous, perhaps as his personal confidence to play at the highest level has grown, and showed some sparkling running from deep especially against England. However, he was sometimes too cavalier and caught out in what was a madcap match. Nevertheless, Brice Dulin cannot be considered the undoubted number one choice for fullback any longer.


Sergio Parisse

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Not very imaginative choice but the Italy side without him disintegrates into the rudderless lot that shipped seven tries in the second-half to Wales, a game he was injured for. Their one world class player — the only Italian to be nominated for world player of the year — the 31-year-old Argentina-born No.8 drives them on both by example and deeds as he showed in the win over Scotland. Italy need him fully fit for the World Cup where he can get the best out of a side that is showing more aptitude at scoring tries and perhaps give the Irish and the French a better run for their money than they did in the Six Nations.


Stuart Hogg

Source: Lynne Cameron

An exciting talent in a side that threatened to do something in Vern Cotter’s first Six Nations as coach but ended with the wooden spoon and a thumping defeat by the Irish, in which the 22-year-old fullback’s mesmerising run looked set for a certain try until a superb tackle by Jamie Heaslip. However, he will be a mainstay of the side that Cotter will hope to turn around and at the very least emerge from a weak looking World Cup pool. Has the vision and speed to turn defence into attack and potential to create havoc in opposing defences.

– Pirate Irwin

 – © AFP 2015

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