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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Darren Holliday, Pundit Arena