5 Players To Watch At This Year’s Six Nations
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It’s almost time.
The Six Nations kick-off this weekend as the best the northern hemisphere has to offer go head-to-head. A lot of talent will be on show, and with the new bonus-point system in place and Lions spots up for grabs, it promises to be one of the best tournaments in recent memory.
England head in as favourites, with Ireland not far behind, but which players will stand out? We’ve put together a list of five that we think are the ones to watch this year, for a variety of reasons.
1. Gary Ringrose
The Leinster centre is still just 22 years of age, and will get his chance to start at 13 in the absence of Jared Payne. From what we’ve seen in November, Ringrose has proved he has what it takes to make the step-up to Test level rugby, but in his first Six Nations, all eyes will be on the young star. Can he raise his game to the next level and possibly play his way into Lions contention?
2. Alun Wyn Jones
The Welsh lock has been around for a long-time now, but takes over as his country’s captain for the first time, with Sam Warburton stepping down. How he performs in the role will be key and could result in him being picked as the Lions captain this summer. We’ve seen talents excel in the captaincy role, but we’ve also see some players drastically effected by the newfound responsibility. This is no doubt the toughest task the experience second-row has ever faced.
3. Finn Russell
The Glasgow ten has been in fine form in Europe, guiding his side to the knockout stages for the very first time. How he performs for Scotland in the Six Nations however, will be how he’s measured when it comes to Lions selection. A super talent, we look forward to seeing what he has to offer this year.
4. Tadhg Furlong
Furlong burst onto the scene in November with a couple of barnstorming performances against the All Blacks. Warren Gatland has made it clear that he’s keeping close tabs on the tighthead and rightfully so. Can Furlong pick up where he left off and excel in his first Six Nations?
5. Maro Itoje
The England lock made his Six Nations debut last year at just 21, and was one of the tournament’s star performers. Rumour has it Jones will start him at six for their opener, with Chris Robshaw ruled out. This will no doubt be interesting, especially with England having the like of George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes to choose from in the second-row. Could Itoje’s long-term future be in the back-row and can he improve on last year and elevate himself to one of the world’s very best? We wouldn’t bet against it.