It may be a little premature, however we think these are the 15 players who are likely to stand out most at the Rugby World Cup this year…
Folau is the Wallabies key attacking threat, and will likely to be key to their hopes of progressing from the ‘pool of death’. If he plays to the best of his ability, there’s no doubting he will make the team of the tournament.
14.Willie le Roux
Although le Roux is more likely to run out in the number 15 shirt, it’s hard to ignore him for the purposes of this team. He is one of the Springboks most potent attacking threats and will play a key role in their hopes at the World Cup.
In what will be Smith’s last tournament for the All Blacks, they will be hoping he can continue the form he has shown during this years Super Rugby championship. He may not be flash, but he allows those around him to thrive.
The return of Giteau to the Wallabies fold will be a huge boost to coach Michael Cheika, as he hopes he can transfer his club form onto the international stage. The ability to act as a second playmaker will be a huge bonus.
The All Blacks winger has proven time and again that he is absolutely devastating out wide, even against some of the world’s top players. If Savea is at the top of his game, then the All Blacks will be in for a strong showing.
Sexton is quite simply Ireland’s most important player. His ability to control a game will be key to Joe Schmidt’s sides hopes at the World Cup, and will help to dictate the style of play employed against the opposition.
On current form, Smith isn’t just the best scrum half in the world, but the best player in the world. Although the All Blacks are jam-packed with talent, Smith is probably their most important player at the World Cup.
The Springboks will be desperately hoping Vermeulen can get himself fit in time for the World Cup, as their talismanic Number 8 is a key figure in their pack’s ability to drive the ball forward and get over the gain line.
In what is likely to be his final appearances for the All Blacks, it would surprise nobody if McCaw proved to be his sides most important player. His leadership will be key, whilst his ability to disrupt teams will be hugely influential on matches.
Without Dusautoir, France are a completely different team. His leadership could be the difference between an early exit, or a surprising run into the latter stages. His tackling, defence and ability to disrupt will be critical.
Retallick is currently one of, if not the best lock in the world right now. His combination with Sam Whitelock in the All Blacks engine room will have a huge impact on whether or not they can retain their crown.
The Springboks lock has already become a hugely influential player in an impressive pack, and will be called upon once more at the World Cup. If he is at his best, the Springboks can expect a good showing at the World Cup.
Currently there is a derth of quality tighthead props in world rugby, however Cole is one of the few stand out options. If he is at his best for England, then he could have a huge influence on how well the side performs.
The Wallabies captain will be raring to lead his side out once more at the World Cup after battling back from injury. He was the stand-out hooker during the Super Rugby season, and could steady the Wallabies set piece.
The Stormers prop has been sensational this year, and will be hoping his Super Rugby form sees him get the nod at the World Cup. He has spent most of the year destroying scrums, and will hope to do the same on the international stage.