Some Key Men To Keep An Eye On At The Rugby World Cup

Road to Japan.

With the Rugby World Cup fast approaching, squads are taking shape and fans are preparing themselves for a feast of rugby in what promises to be a fantastic occasion in Japan, for what is the ninth Rugby World Cup ever.

Held in Japan from 20 September to 2 November – which is perhaps not a rugby hotbed to some, but in fact, they love it and have history in the game – the usual candidates will be there or thereabouts you’d think, with New Zealand understandable favourites and the likes of South Africa and England trailing slightly behind.

Ireland, despite being tipped to crash out in the quarter finals, should pose a threat to the favourites and – on their day – are more than capable of causing a shock or two, but it really depends which Irish team turns up. Hopefully they can turn a corner after a difficult patch.

Pressure certainly won’t be as high on the Irish team as it has been in previous competitions, perhaps allowing them to play rugby with the shackles off and potentially be the surprise package of the tournament. If Ireland reach the knockout stages, you just never know. It’s almost a lottery on the day.

Downtime and the general team environment will be vital in Japan too, with the squad undoubtedly well prepared, well looked after and able to socialise and hopefully enjoy the surroundings out there. Of course the usual Playstation’s will be brought along, endless mobile phone games such as those at who accept Irish players or the never-ending stream of music on the headphones, but you can be sure the Irish boys will be going there in good spirits, with nothing lose, essentially.

But ahead of the tournament, who could be the star men in the Land of the Rising Sun? Here’s a few contenders below.

Ellis Genge – England 

Despite a few issues with his temper, Ellis Genge is a man on a mission after returning from a serious injury last year and having a few doubters due to his outbursts in the past. The Leicester prop – who has been impressive for the Tigers in recent times – is arguably one of the most dynamic props in the competition and is tipped to impress with some powerful displays in Japan. Genge is certainly one to keep an eye on, both in Japan and beyond.

Jayden Hayward – Italy  

Born in New Zealand, Jayden Hayward is easily one of Italy’s best players and has decent pedigree after learning the rugby ropes in New Zealand where he represented Taranaki at provincial level, before stepping up to Super Rugby for the Highlanders in 2009-10, Hurricanes in 2011-12 and Force from 2013-14. Eventually, after tragically going through a stillbirth with his wife, Hayward ended up overseas and has been impressing at Benetton Rugby in Italy ever since.

Joe Cokanasiga – England

A huge unit who plays for Bath, Cokanasiga offers electric dynamism on the wing and is sure to be one of England’s main threats in Japan. After featuring in the 2019 Six Nations – where he impressed at times – this could be the tournament where he announces himself on the world stage.

George North – Wales

It feels like he’s been around forever, but at the age of 27 George North still has a hell of a lot to offer for the Six Nation champions, who will surely be there or thereabouts this year. North’s power and try scoring ability is always a dangerous weapon for the Welsh.

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