Eight stand-out players from the Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists
Tokyo, Tuesday @PeopleDailyKe
- England: George Ford -
For a time in his Test career and even as recently as this year’s Six Nations, it seemed Ford was set to be cast as back-up fly-half to his childhood friend Owen Farrell.
But the World Cup has seen England coach Eddie Jones revert to the double playmaker pairing of Ford at fly-half and Farrell at inside centre, with Manu Tuilagi holding the defensive line outside the England captain when not driving forward in attack.
- Australia: Samu Kerevi
Samu Kerevi against Manu Tuilagi could just one of those key match-ups that decides next week’s World Cup quarter-final between England and Australia.
While the Wallabies pack attempts to get to grips with a monstrous England eight, Wallabies inside centre Kerevi has the explosiveness to cause the men in white real concern.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett -
There was much talk before the World Cup about Barrett’s move to fullback, to accommodate a double playmaker partnership with Richie Mo’unga, but it hasn’t been working too badly so far.
Despite being shifted from his familiar position at fly-half, the two-time World Player of the Year remains the key cog for the All Blacks, moving at will between the two positions to ensure a maximum contribution in both attack and defence.
Ireland: Jonny Sexton -
The current World Rugby player of the year scored a brace of tries as Ireland overcame Samoa 47-5 in their final match of a tight Pool A that saw Japan top after victory over Scotland. Sexton has had his injury problems this year but he will need to be back to his very best against the All Blacks come the weekend. In his prime, the 34-year-old is the consummate playmaker, working with half-back partner Conor Murray to dictate a game.
Wales: Gareth Davies -
Scrum-half Davies has been a significant factor in Wales’ perfect four-from-four record at the World Cup so far, and will play a vital role if they are to go deeper in the competition.
As well as his kicking game and sharp work behind the forwards, Davies presents a major try threat with his pace and eye for a chance -- as his scoring record shows.
- France: Virimi Vakatawa -
After a year of Test exile, Vakatawa was only called into the World Cup squad when Geoffrey Doumayrou was ruled out with injury, but the 27-year-old Fiji-born centre has made his presence felt at Japan 2019.
He made some strong runs as well as displaying fine footwork to set up Gael Fickou for a try in a tense 23-21 win over Argentina that saw France avoid a morale-shattering defeat in their opening pool match.
Japan: Michael Leitch -
It’s hard to overstate how much Japan would have missed captain Michael Leitch had he not recovered from a groin injury in time for the World Cup.
A one-man wrecking crew, the rampaging flanker has been the inspiration as the hosts made history by topping Pool A to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
South Africa: RG Snyman -
With his shaggy hair and unkempt beard, South African lock RG Snyman is instantly recognisable but there seemed to be three of him at times in his man-of-the-match run against Canada.
He made an astonishing 17 tackles and was a handful with his carries, one rampaging run in the second half leading to a stunning Springbok try.
Standing 6ft 10in (206 cm) and weighing more than 18 stones (117 kilos), he was imperious in the line-out and displayed athleticism and handling skills that belied his physical stature, being hailed in the South African press as a “lock-cum-centre”.
He faces stiff competition for a place in the Springbok starting XV from Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert but would make a ferocious impact off the bench as a substitute.
Known as the “lumberjack” for his backwoodsman appearance, Snyman said he had hugely enjoyed getting the ball in some space but denied he had suffered physically.
Asked how his legs were at the man-of-match presentation, Snyman joked: “I’m still pretty fresh. I think I’m going to get on the bike now.”