Players To Watch At The 2019 Rugby World Cup
The sporting world is gearing up for the ultimate festival of rugby - the World Cup will take place in Japan from 20th September to 2nd November, and the tournament is one of the most hotly anticipated in recent memory. A total of 20 countries from six continents will meet in a battle for world supremacy, which will provide a huge platform for the best players on the planet to showcase their skills.
In this article, we pick out five of the best players who are expected to compete at the RWC 2019, identifying their strengths, highlighting their achievements, and looking at their recent form
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Where else to start than the current World Rugby Player of the year, who will be competing in his third World Cup. String pulling fly-half Sexton has been at the fulcrum of Ireland's march to the top of the world rankings. This is a man at the peak of his powers, whose contribution could be pivotal to Ireland's hopes of reaching a World Cup Final for the first time.
The two-time British Lion, with 84 Ireland caps to his name, will perform a reliable place kicking role, and offer an excellent means of distribution to Ireland's backs, including the pacey winger Jacob Stockdale. Sit back and enjoy Sexton and scrum-half Conor Murray demonstrate one of the most finely tuned half-back partnerships in the sport.
Sexton is currently 9/1 to finish as the Rugby World Cup’s top points scorer.
Not many players pick up three European Cups and two Six Nations medals before their 25th birthday. But England's powerful lock Maro Itoje is no ordinary player. Itoje is reflective of the powerful and dynamic England side which many teams at the World Cup will surely be hoping to avoid. The agile Saracens forward, who has already become a first choice British Lion, will be essential to England for his ability in the line out, at the breakdown, and popping up in wide channels, thanks to his remarkable speed.
Itoje, who stands at 6ft 5" and weighs 115kg, has also shown leadership qualities which suggest that he could be just the type of character to relish the responsibility of spearheading a World Cup campaign. Despite not winning a major championship since 2017, England are being considered serious contenders for Japan 2019, and Itoje is undeniably a factor.
Maro Itoje and England are 4/1 to win the Rugby World Cup, second favourites behind New Zealand.
One thing is for sure, eyes will be fixed on defending champions New Zealand to see if they can hang on to the Web Ellis Cup which they won in England four years ago. A huge force in that triumph was Beauden Barrett, the fullback who is a two-time World Rugby Player of the Year.
If the All Blacks are to retain their crown, they will look to the kicking boot, frightening pace, and elusive running of Barrett to get them over the line. Barrett, who plays for the Hurricanes team in Super Rugby, is a converted fly-half, and that might explain his intelligent playmaking ability. He will surely be desperate for the All Blacks to reassert themselves as the world's best team after handing over their Rugby Championship title to South Africa.
Barrett will be hoping that his New Zealand side can back up their position as 5/4 favourites for the Rugby World Cup.
If you want to watch one player who represents modern-day rugby, it might be Folau Fainga. He proves that a hooker is no longer merely a battering ram at the front of the scrum who also feeds the line out. Dynamic and elusive, Fainga has earned himself a reputation as a potent attacking force for Australia, and notched up no less than 12 tries with his team the Brumbies in the last Super Rugby season.
If the Wallabies can exploit the rolling maul during Japan 2019, they have maybe the best ever exponent of this offensive move in Fainga. Look for Fainga to lead the Wallabies from the front as they attempt to build on a positive winter Down Under.
In their, Australia are second favourites, behind Wales, at 11/10 to win Pool D.
Any player nicknamed The Octopus has to be worth a watch! But Fiji's second-row Nakarawa is much more than simply a moniker. This Olympic gold medal winner is known for using his long arms to facilitate offloads at speed. Nakarawa's ball-handling, allied with his 6ft 4" frame, make him a formidable attacking weapon which can be used in the rolling maul. But it is also defensively when the Racing Metro lock comes into his own. He uses those long arms to tremendous effect in disrupting opposition line outs.
As one of Fiji's most experienced players, 31-year-old Nakarawa will be vital to the Pacific Islanders' ambitions of progressing from a pool which includes Australia and Wales.
If you fancy Fiji to make it out of their pool, Bet UK are offering odds of 9/1 for Fiji to make the quarter finals.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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