With the autumn internationals due to kick off properly this weekend, here are 13 relatively unknown players it will be well worth you keeping an eye on.
Fly Half, Scotland
Glasgow Warriors fly-half Finn Russell has edged out some of his more experienced counterparts as he dons the number 10 jersey against Los Pumas. This will be a game that new coach Vern Cotter will be targeting as a potentially winnable game and Russell will be at the centre of his plans. Russell’s a young 10 who plays with his head up and is sure to get Scottish fans on their feet.
McMahon is set to cap off an incredible year as he prepares to start for the Wallabies having already captained the Australian under-20s, won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and was named Australia’s Super Rugby rookie of the year. At just 20 years of age he looks to be a serious prospect for the Wallabies and will be hoping to carry his form for the Melbourne Rebels onto the international stage.
Full Back/Wing, England
Anthony Watson is considered by many to be the most exciting talent in English rugby. Watson has been on the fringes of international selection over the last 12 months and looks set to make his debut against the All Blacks. An exciting runner with bags of pace and a step to rival Jason Robinson, he could be the key to helping England unlock the All Blacks defence in the last 20 minutes.
Allen is another giant Welsh centre who will have no problem stepping up to play international rugby on a regular basis. Allen may not have quite the same size and power as his international counterpart Jamie Roberts but looks to have a bit more skill. He will find it tough to break into the starting line-up but don’t underestimate this young lad who looks set to have a bright future with Wales.
Rokoduguni has become an overnight sensation in England as his progression into England’s starting line-up has been widely covered in the press. He is a powerful winger of Fijian descent who many are hoping will be the answer to England’s problems on the wings. If he can take his domestic form onto the international stage then England may just have found their next international star.
Back Row, Scotland
Ashe made his debut for Scotland this summer and has been retained by new Head Coach Vern Cotter for the first of this years Autumn Internationals. At just 21 Ashe still has plenty of learning to do but already looks to have the making of a top class international.His experience on the sevens circuit could be crucial given Cotter looks set to try a more expansive game plan with Scotland.
T J Perenara
Scrum Half, New Zealand
I’m sure any All Blacks fans reading this will already be aware of Perenara, however some of you outside of New Zealand may not have heard of him yet. With Kerr-Barlow injured Perenara looks set to take up his spot as Aaron Smith’s replacement as he continues his development. The Hurricanes scrum half is of a similar mould to Smith and will ensure the All Blacks maintain their tempo through the closing stages of their games.
Full Back, France
South African born full back may sound about as French as a roast dinner, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact he is incredibly proud to represent his adopted national side. Spedding is far from a mercenary however having reportedly burst into tears after finding out about his selection. At 28 he is hardly an up-and-comer but will bring years of experience to a disjointed French side where he could excel.
The French coaching team will be hoping Dumoulin can inject some much needed spark into a stifled Les Bleus backline that has come in for a great deal of criticism. Dumoulin’s form so far this season has seen him oust Basteraud from the 13 shirt whilst Fickou wasn’t even considered. If he can click with Wesley Fofana in the centre’s though the pair could prove to be devastating.
Fly Half, South Africa
Pollard really announced himself on the international scene during the Rugby Championship and will be hoping to use the Springboks tour of Europe to cement his place in the side. Pollard brings the kind of dynamism to the Boks which they have lacked somewhat in recent years whilst also being a reliable goalkicker. Expect big things from Pollard over the next few weeks.
Henshaw is set to become one half of a new look Irish centre partnership that hopes to replace Brian O’Driscoll. Although Henshaw is still only young, many in Ireland are expecting big things from his as he is believed to be the natural successor to BOD. Whilst he has a ways to go before anyone can seriously draw those kind of comparisons he will certainly be worth keeping an eye on during the Autumn Internationals.
Full Back, Argentina
Tuculet has been in or around the Los Pumas squad for the last few years but was finally given his chance during this years Rugby Championship. During the tournament he looked like a man on a mission providing Los Pumas with some much needed go forward as he side stepped his way through defences. He will be looking to continue impressing selectors as he aims to retain his place in the starting side.
Campagnaro was one of the outstanding players in this years Six Nations, and will be expected to continue this form during the upcoming internationals. An elusive centre whose not afraid of contact, Campagnaro adds an extra level of dynamism to the Italian backs which could be key to helping them score a few more tries. Expect him to be watched closely but opposition defences over the next few games.
Who do you think is set to make a name for themselves during the upcoming internationals?