It’s a bumper weekend of International Rugby and we picked out six players to watch as the Boks host Eddie Jones’ England, France face the might of the All Blacks at Eden Park, Ireland try to break their drought in Australia and Argentina take on a new-look Wales.
There are some world class stars trying to re-assert their authority at Test level, brand new faces making just making their mark and pace-men hoping to carry their Super Rugby for into the international arena.
Here are six players to watch:
Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Australia v Ireland)
He’s yet to play a test but the 22-year-old Reds rake has already endeared himself to Australian rugby fans with his down-to-earth attitude and abundant personality. Thrust in to the starting No2 spot due to the retirement of Stephen Moore, the non-selection of Tatafu Polota-Nau and the injury to Jordan Uelese the former garbage man, landscaper and theology student has his big chance this Saturday.
Joey Carbery (Ireland v Australia)
With Ireland coach Joe Schmidt deciding to rest first choice fly half Johnny Sexton for the first Test a lot of pressure falls on the shoulder of Auckland-born No10 22-year-old Carbery. The Irish are favourite but any mistakes from Carbery will be pounced on by a desperate Wallabies pack. Off the field Carbery’s forced switch to Munster is also causing headlines for the wrong reasons.
Duane Vermeulen (South Africa v England)
The backrow battle between the Springboks and England is set to be titanic and whoever comes out on top in the No8 match-up – Vermeulen v Billy Vunipola – will go a long way to determining who wins the series opener. South Africa have a new look to their pack and they desperately need the big Toulon eighth man to lead from the front.
Owen Farrell (England v South Africa)
England have hit a bad patch with four losses in a row (Scotland, France, Ireland and the Barbarians) and the wheels definitely seem to be coming off Eddie Jones’ all conquering side. The man entrusted with righting the ship is his captain, and best player, the Saracens No10. England certainly have the talent but it will up to Farrell to make sure they have the focus and urgency to pull off a much needed test win.
Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina v Wales)
The 23-year-old Jaguares pace-man has been in outstanding form in Super Rugby this season, sitting third on the top try-scorers list with 10 tries. His devastating finishing has played a big part in the Argentinian team making a run to the playoffs. Boffelli has been switched to fullback for the Wales test and the Pumas will need his superb finishing if they are to continue their winning streak at international level.
Beauden Barrett (New Zealand v France)
It may seem a ridiculous statement to make but the Hurricanes superstar, the World Rugby Player of the Year for the last two years, is fighting to hold on to the All Blacks No10 jersey. Such is the depth of New Zealand rugby that Barrett’s spot is under threat from the Crusaders Richie Mo’unga and the Chiefs Damian McKenzie. Barrett will want a big game to claim back his status as the first choice No10.
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