This Saturday, the Six Nations Tournament will open with the Wales-Ireland clash in Cardiff. For the occasion, we offer you our XV of players to follow before the competition. We find in particular some beautiful names like Manu Tuilagi, Michele Lamaro or Cyril Baille.
15. Angel Capuozzo (Italy)
Who else but him? Revelation of last season, the player trained at FC Grenoble will obviously be the number one offensive argument of a Squaddra Azzurra eager to finally take off from sixth place which has stuck with him for too long. the opening of the Tournament against the XV of France promises to be highly symbolic for him, who will meet for the first time on a pitch with the Blues and his partners at the Toulouse Stadium…
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
With Warren Gatland back in the business of the selection, he embodies the hope of an entire people disappointed after seeing his Red Devils fall last year at the Principality Stadium in front of Italy and Georgia. In a Welsh team that is aging more than ever, he is both one of the rare faces to embody the future and one of the only ones likely to be able to claim to be part of the world’s gratin in his position. His rides will only be more scrutinized…
13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
If the status of “natural successor to Brian O’Driscoll” has long given the impression of restraining him, Garry Ringrose has nevertheless taken a step forward in the past two years, contributing greatly with his center partner Bundee Ahki to the Ireland’s slow rise to world number one status. Twirling with the ball in hand and particularly skilful in his passing game, the Leinster center already has his eyes turned towards the reception of the Blues on the second day, where he will burn to measure himself against his “kryptonite” Gaël Fickou .
12. Manu Tuilagi (England)
Sometimes the best soup is made in old pots, and new England manager Steve Borthwick knows that better than anyone. This is why, finally rid of his physical glitches, the one who is now making the heyday of Sale will come forward as a strong element of the English midfielder, with the idea of contributing to the redemption of the XV de la Rose.
11. Duhan Van der Merwe (Scotland)
Within a Scottish selection whose lack of power has always been the Achilles’ heel, the naturalization two years ago of the South African monster was an incredible boon… In 22 tenures with the XV du Thistle, Duhan van der Merwe has indeed registered the trifle of 14 tests and does not intend to stop in such a good way. And to think that he only joined Edinburgh in the summer of 2017 because he had not been kept by the Montpellier training center …
10. Owen Farrell (England)
Replaced in the center by Eddie Jones who has never budged from his option of the “five-eighth” where he was associated with George Ford then Marcus Smith, the captain of the XV of the Rose should find his favorite position under the mandate of Steve Borthwick. A strong choice that Farrell (sufficiently cleared by the RFU Disciplinary Committee after yet another dangerous tackle to participate at the start of the Tournament) welcomed with all-British phlegm, indicating that “only the balance of the team matters”.
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)
The man who sent Conor Murray back to the stands was obviously one of the revelations of the last Tournament, the precision of his pressure foot game being coupled with an ability to accelerate the game as soon as the need arises, obviously inherited of his New Zealand training. With this double role, Gibson-Park has contributed to profoundly transforming the Irish game, to which it has brought a new grain of madness. He will be one of the things to watch closely in Dublin…
8. Gregory Alldritt (France)
He is currently the best number eight on the planet, and his challenge at the next tournament will be to demonstrate that he is well worthy of this status. Currently on another planet, the La Rochelle aircraft carrier has never seemed so strong and so in control of its rugby, capable of punching through any defensive curtain as well as making the “extra pass”, while retaining a defensive showdown essential to the blues system in the opener’s area.
7. Michele Lamaro (Italy)
Became captain of Italy in November 2021, the Treviso player has become one of the essentials on whom coach Kieran Crowley intends to rely. It must be said that his status as the best defender of the last Tournament (82 tackles in 5 games, i.e. more than 1st average per game!) pleads in his favor… The Blues, who will cross his path on Sunday at the opening of the Tournament, should not deny us.
6. Josh Van der Flier (Ireland)
Elected best player in the world in 2022 by World Rugby, the Irishman of Batavian descent will obviously be expected at the turn by all his opponents. A true rugby decathlete, capable of jumping into touch as well as clearing the rucks, of carrying the ball as well as ensuring continuity and, in short, of tackling as well as defending, Van der Flier seems in able to live up to their status, given their sparkling form in the Champions Cup.
5. Richie Gray (Scotland)
Disappeared from the radars of international rugby in recent years where we have especially seen his brother Jonny, the former Toulousain and Castres Richie Gray is on the way to making a formidable comeback at 33, he who no longer wore the Scottish jersey for over two years. And yet, his current performance in the Glasgow jersey has led coach Greg Townsend to give him a chance. It’s up to Gray to seize it to form the team with his brother at the next World Cup…
4. Tadgh Beirne (Ireland)
To say that Leinster did not count on him, to the point of letting him leave for Llanelli a few seasons ago… A big mistake, which the XV of Clover has since obviously corrected. And in the first place the coach Andy Farrell, eager to take his team to a milestone in offensive matters, and who knew how to count on Beirne, regularly used as first carrier on the front blocks, like a Retallick among the blacks.
3. Dan Cole (England)
Again, this is a comeback story… After his ordeal experienced in the final of the 2019 World Cup, the emblematic right-hander from Leicester no longer had the honors of the selection under the mandate of Eddie Jones. A lack that his former club mentor Steve Borthwick decided to fill, wishing to restore to the XV de la Rose its values in the forward fight. And what better than an old curmudgeon like Cole to embody them…
2. Ken Owens
For his big return to command of Wales in replacement of Wayne Pivac, Warren Gatland made a bet by not entrusting the captaincy to the emblematic second line Alun-Wyn Jones, but to hooker Ken Owens. The sign of the importance of the latter in the Welsh system, first of all, but also of the desire to reconnect with a rougher rugby, and above all without a free pass for its executives.
1. Cyril Baille (France)
An algorithm would have concluded that the Toulousain would be elected “best player of the Tournament” at the end of the 2023 financial year. We do not know how much to rely on it, but the anecdote is quite revealing of the impact of the Toulouse left-hander on the performance of the tricolor pack, and above all of its status now unanimously recognized internationally. It is now up to “Cissou” to rise to the height of IT expectations. And ours, too…
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