The Guinness Six Nations tournament all kicks off next weekend and it is a tournament where the respective team coaches will look to solidify their RWC 2019 squad selections. Hawkeye Sidekick looks at the sleeper players who could make an impact in this season’s tourney.
Italy: Michele Campagnaro
A horrendous injury ravaged season last year for the player but has impressed this season for Wasps. The player is abrasive in his ball carries and defensively solid. A player if Italy can secure go forward ball could easily impress. Conor O’Shea will look for more from his three quarters after a mixed bag last season.
Wales: Gareth Anscombe
There is massive competition for the ten spot in this Welsh side, a team which should go very close in this year’s championship. Why Anscombe? His versatility to play ten, fifteen and three quarters means that he should see game time in the tournament. His kicking and passing game is superb; his ability to get his runners on the front foot is a key asset. A player to seriously watch and monitor as the tournament progresses considering Leigh Halfpenny’s recent concussion issues.
France: Romain Ntamack
France are in absolute limbo. The squad selection has five newcomers, expected reaction after their shock loss to Fiji last November. Romain Ntamack looks like a player who will be a standout for France in this tournament. His form for Toulouse has been sensational; his pace and attacking lines are sublime. His defensive side is a work in progress but his creativity will have the French nation salivating with excitement.
Scotland: Darcy Graham
A player whose progression in the last twelve months with Edinburgh Rugby has now seen his well merited national team call up. The winger is elusive with ball in hand and always seem to pop up for a decisive try. The back three positions will be hard fought with Hogg, Kinghorn looking for game time but for Scotland to realistically challenge in RWC 2019, squad depth needs to be identified and Graham fits the bill. The player could potentially be an absolute gem.
England: Jack Clifford
The Queensland native should the under the radar player for England. His back row skill set is impressive; excellent versatility to pack down at flanker or eight. His ball carrying, breakdown work and defensive work is impressive and his physicality is well suited to Eddie Jones’ game plan mantra. The player could surprise Ireland next weekend!
Ireland: Will Addison
It all depends how Joe Schmidt approaches the tournament. Does he give new squad members game time if the championship is still in the balance? This will be an abrasive tournament with plenty of player withdrawals. The three quarters section is loaded with talent but Will Addison did his claims no harm with an impressive November international series. His versatility to play full back and three quarters to the fore. His form for Ulster Rugby this season has been sensational; his ability to find the soft shoulder and kicking game on point. His defensive work has progressively improved as well.