We take a look at 13 young rugby players who may not be international stars right now but have very bright futures ahead of them;
13. Will Fraser, Flanker, England
The Saracens back rower has had a torrid time with injuries over the past couple of seasons. Despite this, when he has remained fit he has looked like he could become the man to wear England’s number 7 shirt for years to come. The abrasive flanker is excellent on the ground winning turnovers and a ball carrying option, if he can stay injury free he has a huge future ahead of him.
12. Cameron Skelton, Lock, Australia
Cameron Skelton is Will’s little brother in age only. The 145kg lock has signed a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs in New Zealand for next year and looks set to make a significant impact on the tournament. Just like his older brother Will, Cameron is a huge unit around the field who has ball handling skills that many would not expect. Have no doubt that he will player international rugby at some stage.
11. Cheslin Kolbe, Full Back, South Africa
Kolbe seems to have burst onto the rugby scene over the past couple of months after a video showing his steps became a YouTube success. The little South African back three player comes very much in the mould of Gio Aplon using his pace and agility to run rings around defences. The only question remains over the ability of a player his size to hold their own in defence, but should he answer this he could well be a Springbok very soon!
10. Hallam Amos, Full Back, Wales
Welsh back three player Hallam Amos looks like the perfect alternative to Warren Gatland’s giant back division. At 83kg Amos is significantly smaller than the likes of George North and Alex Cuthbert but looks possibly the most exciting of them all. A dangerous player with ball in hand, Amos has made his name in a poor Dragons side and looks set for international honours sooner rather than alter.
9. Christopher Tolofua, Hooker, France
Young French hooker Christopher Tolofua looks set to have a huge future for his country. France are currently struggling to find international quality hookers, and in Tolofua they have a real gem for the future. Bursting onto the scene as an 18 year old in the Heineken Cup, Tolofua has gone from strength-to-strength and looks likely to be a key part of Guy Noves’ side this season.
8. Chris Feauai-Sautia, Winger, Australia
Feauai-Sautia looks like a Wallabies star of the future, especially given the lack of quality out wide available to Ewan McKenzie. The Reds flyer has been unfortunate this season as injury troubles have cooled his hopes of a call-up for the Rugby Championship. If he can stay fit for the majority of the Super Rugby season next year however expect him to make the Wallabies World Cup squad!
7. J.J. Hanrahan, Centre, Ireland
The retirement of Brian O’Driscoll has left a huge gap in the Irish midfield that is going to take some filling before the World Cup. Whilst Joe Schmidt has options for the 13 shirt, Hanrahan looks like he could be BOD’s long-term successor. The Munster centre had a huge season for the men from Limerick last season and will be looking to break into the Ireland starting line-up this time around.
6. Tevita Li, Winger, New Zealand
Blues back Li is another young back who looks like he would be pretty comfortable playing in the pack. Playing schoolboy rugby Li was averaging two tries a game and looks like a natural born finisher. His biggest obstacle is overcoming established All Black wingers who are going to take some displacing, however have no doubts, Li will be pushing hard for a place in the All Blacks squad next year.
5. Kane Hames, Prop, New Zealand
The Highlanders prop has had a breakthrough season in Super Rugby, establishing himself in the competition and receiving a call-up to train with the All Blacks. Given the nature of his position, Hames may still be a year or two off a regular starting spot in the All Blacks side but it seems to be a matter of when now. Expect to see him featuring regularly in Steve Hansen’s squads over the next 12 months.
4. Ihaia West, Fly Half, New Zealand
Ihaia West started this year’s Super Rugby season without a professional contract before soon finding himself scooped up by the Blues as injury cover. West went on to make his first start for the Auckland side scoring a try in the process. Despite having the likes of Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade ahead of him in the All Blacks pecking order, don’t doubt that he will one day feature in the famous jersey!
3. Kyle Sinckler, Prop, England
Sinckler’s rise to the top has been absolutely astronomical as an injury crisis at Harlequins saw him promoted through the ranks before eventually receiving an England call up. Sinckler is absolutely solid in the scrum whilst possessing a mean turn of pace that makes him a dangerous runner with ball in hand. His fiery temperament can get him into trouble but is also one of his biggest assets.
2. Rhys Patchell, Fly Half, Wales
Fly-half has been one of the most debated positions for Wales since the retirement of Stephen Jones. Whilst there are a number of top options for Gatland to select from, none of them have quite the same spark as Cardiff Blues young star Rhys Patchell. A fly-half in the classic Welsh mould, Patchell is a playmaker who takes the ball to the line and commits defenders. Expect big things from the young man ahead of the World Cup.
1. Ardie Savea, Flanker, New Zealand
Younger brother of All Blacks flyer Julian Savea, Ardie possesses many of the same traits of his brother, although he does employ them in the forwards. Savea’s development is being handled carefully for club and country as he is seen as a future star of the All Blacks, but looks set to make a real breakthrough in Super Rugby this year which will no doubt see him pushing for a spot in the All Blacks World Cup squad.
Which other young players do you think we need to look out for over the next couple of years?