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Five Players To Watch Out For In This Year’s Rugby Championship

With the Rugby Championship getting underway next week, we pick out five players we feel could make their mark in this year’s competition.

We have included an All Black or two of course, but also names from Australia, South Africa and Argentina. The Wallabies will host rivals New Zealand at the ANZ National Stadium next Saturday to get the championship underway.

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Samu Kerevi

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: Samu Kerevi of the Wallabies is tackled during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and England at AAMI Park on June 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old could be the man to add some much needed X factor to the Australian midfield. The Fijian-born centre impressed for a struggling Queensland Reds team this season and made his international debut against England in June.

Kerevi will look to dominate the midfield, alongside Tevita Kuridrani. His ability to beat a man, along with his offloading skills, will be key as Australia try to regain the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.

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Jaco Kriel

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 30: Jaco Kriel of the Lions scores during the Super Rugby match between Emirates Lions and Highlanders at Emirates Airline Park on July 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

One of Super Rugby’s standout forwards will certainly be one to watch, as South Africa start their first campaign under new coach Allister Coetzee. The blindside flanker was excellent with ball in hand, while also being a nuisance in the loose.

Despite having only played one game for his country, the Lions man is undoubtedly South Africa’s form loose forward.  The 26-year-old will be hoping to cement his place in the Springbok line-up alongside Lions teammate Warren Whiteley.

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Facundo Isa

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Facundo Isa of Argentina holds off the tackle from Barbarians Victor Matfield during the Killik Cup match between Barbarians v Argentina at Twickenham Stadium on November 21, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

The former Argentinian U20 international will be hoping to make an impression at senior level in this year’s Rugby Championship.

Another loose forward who is strong with ball in hand, the Jaguares’ back row will need to provide his side with good forward ball if Los Pumas have any chance of competing well in this year’s competition. After a stellar first season in Super Rugby, the 22-year-old could well be the man to lead his team to glory.

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Malakai Fekitoa

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 19: Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the way to the try line during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Highlanders at Growthpoint Kings Park on July 19, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

After Sonny Bill Williams’ injury at the Olympic Games in Rio, the young Highlanders centre could get his chance to shine.

The inside centre enjoyed a superb Super Rugby season, as the Dunedin-based side reached the semi-final stage. A player with superb pace, and ability to read the game, the big ball carrying centre may finally become a regular in the All Blacks team.

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Ardie Savea

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 27: Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled during the Super Rugby Semi Final match between the Hurricanes and the Brumbies at Westpac Stadium on June 27, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Another young New Zealander who could set this year’s competition alight is Ardie Savea. The backrower was remarkable as the Hurricanes secured their first ever Super Rugby title.

A forward with superb pace, his mobility around the park sets him apart from almost all the other loose forwards in the competition. His ability at the breakdown will be key as New Zealand aim to disrupt their opponents’ ball.

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Prediction: It’s hard to look beyond Steven Hansen’s squad for the title on this occasion but the championship promises to deliver some fantastic rugby as ever with, no doubt, some surprises along the way.

  1. New Zealand
  2. South Africa
  3. Australia
  4. Argentina

Darren Holliday, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.