We take a look at eight relatively unheard of players from tier two nations who made a huge impact on the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Technically playing for a tier 3 side (Namibia), it’s hard not to include the lock in this list given his performances during the World Cup. Already highlighted as a target for several top Premiership sides, expect to see a lot more of Uanivi over the next few years as he looks to push on after his time in the Top14.
The former American Football running back dumped the pads to go in search of glory on the rugby field. Although the USA struggled somewhat in their group, Palamo impressed in the centre carrying hard and putting in a series of big hits as he remained solid in defence, even when the team spent most of the game on the backfoot.
Goromaru went from relative unknown to star of the tournament after starring for Japan as they battled their way to three victories in a tough pool. Although his side didn’t quite make the quarterfinals, Goromaru’s star performance against the Springboks has ensured that he will be remembered as the face of the tournament for years to come.
4.DTH van der Merwe
Well known to Glasgow, the man with one of the longest names in rugby has turned himself into a bit of a household name amongst rugby fans. A series of impressive outings for Canada which included a handful of highlight-reel-worth tries means he is sure to become a fan favourite at Scarlets this season where he is already settling in nicely.
5.Juan Manuel Gaminara
The Uruguayan blindside was always going to have a tough time in a side that was written off before the tournament even began. Despite spending much of the World Cup on the backfoot, Gaminara still put in a series of impressive displays and will be hoping to kick on by finding a professional contract for the new season.
Fans could be forgiven for thinking they saw Leigh Halfpenny turning out for Georgia, such is the physical resemblance of Tsiklauri. It was in more than just physique Tsiklauri resembled Halfpenny, after he put in a number of solid displays for Georgia at full back tackling strongly and looking to counter at every opportunity.
Capable of playing centre, flanker or wing, the Fijian Swiss army knife was monstrous for the Pacific Islanders. His performance against Wales was particularly memorable where he proved to be a true wrecking ball. With La Rochelle having won promotion to the Top14, expect to see plenty more of him over the next 12 months.
The Georgian centre was magnificent throughout the tournament, putting in a number of huge hits, most notably against the All Blacks. Currently plying his trade in the Russian Championship, it’s not hard to imagine him getting snapped up by a team in one of Europe’s top leagues before too long.