Just hours away from the first whistle of the Rugby World Cup, and with the best teams in the world gathering in England, our minds turn to the players to look out for…
1. Israel Folau, Australia
The first player ever to win the John Eales Medal two years running, Israel Folau is probably Australia’s most exciting player. The fullback has achieved success in the league and AFL, but he’ll no doubt relish being on the big stage of the Rugby World Cup.
2. Sam Burgess, England
The debate surrounding the inclusion of Sam Burgess in the team justifies him being in this list. Some would disagree that he’s ready to play in the World Cup as a centre after switching to rugby union, but England, Stuart Lancaster, has credited Burgess on his physicality, power and speed to play centre.
3. Thierry Dusautoir, France
France may not be front runners, but his success at the 2011 World Cup makes Thierry Dusautoir an exciting player this year. Despite his team losing in the final, he was named man of the match, and was also named player of the year. He’s one of the most sophisticated, easy-to-watch players on the field, and you can’t underestimate his ability.
4. Eben Etzebeth, South Africa
He’s 6-foot-9 and 19 stone, so you can’t miss Eben Etzebeth on the field even if you wanted to. At just 23 years old, he’s a controlled player that uses his muscle, aggression and agility for the game, never overstepping the line. With all of this in mind, he’s almost impossible to stop when he has the ball.
5. Julian Savea, New Zealand
With a nickname like The Bus, it would be mad not to pay close attention to Julian Savea. Charging through defenders like a bullet through paper, the All Blacks winger has speed and power on his side, and while being compared to former players, Jonah Lomu and Sitiveni Sivivatu, easily outshines them. 2015 will be his first World Cup, and one to remember no doubt.
Watch all the below Rugby World Cup 2015 matches live, with sounds at the Beach Road Hotel, Bondi