Nowadays every schoolboy rugby player seems to have a tribute video before they’ve even had a sniff at a professional contract.
But, every now and then you come across a genuine freak of nature who oozes class. We’ve picked out some of the most exciting talents based on their highlights videos and performances here.
5. Damian Willemse
Willemse has been playing grade age rugby for South African Schools and Western Province, but this year he got his first glimpse at professional rugby with the Stormers at the age of 18. Although he played the majority of his rugby at fly-half, the way he steps with such grace and ease, I would say his future lies at full-back.
He is one of these runners who can change direction whilst flying down the track at break neck speed. His schoolboy highlights video leaves a lot of young South African men very red faced.
4. Marcus Smith
Everyone knows about Smith now, the cat is out of the bag, but it has a been a meteoric rise in a very short space of time. His first two games in the Premiership, as expected, have been cagey with a few flashes of mercurial brilliance.
But he’s literally just finished school, so give the guy a chance. His highlights video has a bit of everything. Support play, a turnover, a monster touch find, putting players in gaps and a whole lot of line breaks. A massive future for young Smith who, after Demetri Catrakilis’ long layoff, looks set to play a lot of rugby for Harlequins.
3. Emosi Tuqiri
We couldn’t make this list without at least one monster prop skittling young amateurs like bowling balls. Tuqiri is the 138kg cousin of the great Australian winger Lote Tuqiri. He’s so big you can’t help but worry for the other kids he was rag-dolling at schoolboy level.
Tuqiri uses his massive frame to trundle over would be tackles, even sneaking a few audacious offloads off in the process. Take a look at him wreaking havoc in his highlights montage. He is one of those exciting talents who will benefit no end from being nurtured once he arrives at one of the Super Rugby clubs.
2. Ben Bucknell
There isn’t too much to go off with young Ben Bucknell except his tribute video. However, you can tell after 20 seconds of viewing that he has an unnerving resemblance to Quade Cooper in the way he steps. A beautifully balanced runner who runs with the ball in two hands when required and looks to score and assist tries in equal measure.
Another like Willemse and Smith who makes hot stepping look so natural even under pressure. Although a slight unknown, he could be gracing your screens very soon with this sort of rugby.
1. Asafo Aumua
This is perhaps cheating a little bit, but we couldn’t leave the New Zealand U-20s hooker off the list. His performances for the Baby Blacks were frightening in all honesty, making breaks that most wingers would be chuffed with.
Look out for Aumua skinning a French winger down the right touchline. As if Dane Coles wasn’t enough, New Zealand look to have another blockbuster hooker on their hands. They just breed them differently in the southern hemisphere.
Max Hamid, Pundit Arena
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