We take a look at the 12 players who are absolutely integral to their sides hopes of claiming rugby’s biggest prize later this year…
Sexton is almost as integral to the current Ireland side as their Head Coach Joe Schmidt. The side are an entirely different prospect with Sexton pulling the strings at 10, and he will be key to their World Cup hopes.
Although Georgia won’t harbour any series hopes of winning this year’s World Cup, they are in the position where they could cause a couple of upsets. Key to their performances later this year will be captain Mamuka Gorgodze.
There aren’t many positions in the All Blacks side where you would have concerns. However, hooker is one of those areas where they will be hoping starter Dane Coles can remain fit for the duration.
4.Willie Le Roux
There’s no doubting that the Springboks have a serious chance of claiming the World Cup this year. Whilst they have plenty of muscle though, it is Willie Le Roux who provides a bit more guile and gives them a real edge.
The Italian side never looks quite the same when captain Sergio Parisse is out of action. If they’re to have any hopes of getting out of their group this year, they will need Parisse to be firing on all cylinders.
The Wallabies full back is currently one of the stand-out players in rugby, and more than capable of changing a game on his own. If Folau is at his best then the Wallabies could be dark horses for the crown this year.
Welsh full back Halfpenny has become integral to his side over the last few years. Capable of slotting penalties from almost anywhere within 60 metres, Wales will be hoping he can stay fit during the World Cup.
Fofana was nowhere near his best during the Six Nations for France. That being said, if the French can bring him into games more, he is the kind of player who can spark their entire backline into action and get them on the front foot.
One thing that became very apparent during this years Six Nations was just how important Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury are to England. A fully fit Lawes will be key for England at the World Cup.
Hogg is by far and away Scotland’s stand-out player. Solid in defence, exciting in attack and capable of monstrous kicks. If Scotland can get the ball to Hogg during the World Cup he could do some serious damage.
Fotuali’i is the key player in the current Samoan side, coordinating things from behind the pack and keeping them playing in the right areas. He is also an important on-field leader who leads by example.
Los Pumas fly half Nicholas Sanchez is one of the rising stars of world rugby, and will be hoping to continue his good form into the World Cup. With a solid pack in front of him, it will be up to him to get the backline firing.