With the Castle Lager Rugby Championship starting soon Benedict Chanakira looks at some players that should shine in this years tournament for their teams.
I am sure their are a few more names you can add to Benedict list…..
12. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
The prop had a stellar Rugby Championship in 2013. He was arguably the best all round frontranker and should push to improve this season. Will he help Los Pumas to finally challenge the Big 3?
11. Israel Folau (Australia)
The priest. What a revelation he has been in Super Rugby and International Rugby. The emergence of two World class 15’s in the last two years and he is one of them. This season he surely was one of the reasons the Waratahs were a force as he scored 12 five-pointers and proved to be quality at the back and at centre.
10. Michael Hooper (Australia)
The youngest captain in Wallaby history. Led the Waratahs to their maiden Super title and is on the verge of leading the Wallabies. Could he bring the Championship home? The Wallabies love their forward captains don’t they? Maybe forward captains take the team forward.
9. Bernard Foley (Australia)
With Quade Cooper out injured its a blessing in disguise. It gives Bernard yet another shot at the Wallaby number 10 shirt; can he take the general role once again and fire the side to a maiden Rugby Championship win? An accurate boot and distribution skills will definitely go a long way to driving this Wallaby side forward.
8. Willie le Roux (South Africa)
One of the best full backs in the world. The difference in the Springbok side definitely. Without le Roux I can not imagine the men in green and gold. 15 was now stale and normal but he has brought a new dimension. Playing in a second flyhalf role at times. Can he shine once again in the Championship?
7. Willem Alberts (South Africa)
When the Springboks need go forward ball he is the man. He is also nicknamed the Bone collector. Known also for bone crunching hits. Remember that hit on Jaco Taute? If the Springboks are to finally beat the All Blacks this season he has to be at the forefront of a physical onslaught with Bismarck Du Plessis.
6. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
In a country blessed with fly half options aplenty this is the heir to Daniel Carter. His inclusion in the Ireland match late last year was a clear indication of his abilities. While not in his customary number Ten role he attacked the line hard and injected some pace. He has the ability to wear the All Black number 10 jersey; with Daniel Carter and Aaron Cruden injury prone expect the playmaker to make a difference in this campaign.
5. Richard McCaw (New Zealand)
Last season he proved he is capable of performing at the highest level. Will he be able to put aside his last play horrors against the Waratahs? Looking forward to see how one of the greatest All Blacks ever will fare in his penultimate year of his International career.
4. Handre Pollard (South Africa)
Clearly he has become the number two option at ten for South Africa. Is he a complete flyhalf? Will he be fast tracked and flop ? He has shown he is capable but a test against the best could reveal how good he is. He may well snatch the incumbent role from his former teammate Morne Steyn who was one of the Top 14 disappointments. The future could be here for Pollard!
3.Kieran Read (New Zealand)
The best player in the world and any rugby fan delights when Read is at his poetic best. A quality link man and one who surely was the diffence in the decider against the Springboks in 2013. He will definitely be a factor on how well the All Blacks perform.
2. Bismarck Du plessis (South Africa)
Leadership has been added to his game this season. It has helped him think under pressure and has seen the player’s discipline curb for the better. As the Springbok talisman it will be pivotal to have him at his best and maybe lead the Springboks to their maiden Rugby Championship.
1. Manuel Montero (Argentina)
The Argentinean winger scored a special yet quality try in June against Ireland. It had brilliance indeed, good footwork and a turn of pace. Hoping he turns up and scores some stunning tries and help the Los Pumas to their first win in two years in the Championship.