The Six Nations is just around the corner and as the teams prepare to battle for supremacy, those less well-known players are eager to prove to the world that they are the next big star. Whether they’ve produced the goods for their club side for a couple of seasons and are ready to produce on the international stage, or whether they are having a break out season, these young stars are worth looking out for.
Ireland are looking to defend their crown in the rugby Six Nations, having won the grand slam last year, but with all but Italy looking relatively strong this year, we could see Ireland lose their crown, with England in particular ready to step up if Ireland slip up.
Here we will take a look at the young players looking to make an impact at the Six Nations.
Tom Curry – England
The Sales Shark flanker has already made history by becoming the youngest player to start an international match for England in 90 years after being called up to play Argentina in the summer tour of 2017.
The fact that only Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of England’s 2003 World Cup success, has been a younger England debutant, certainly suggests that this young man has all the tools necessary to become an England great.
He could be one part of the jigsaw to helping England return to the top of international rugby by improving the breakdown. England often give away avoidable penalties and Curry can hopefully step in and prevent the team conceding points.
Jacob Stockdale – Ireland
Hardly a surprise to see this name on the list, the Irish star had a phenomenal 2018, in which he finished as the top try scorer at the Six Nations and was named as the player of the tournament. The Ulster man can play at centre, wing and fullback and he earned the plaudits for his performances in 2018.
He concluded the year by winning the 2018 BBC Sport Northern Ireland Personality of the Year. His record seven tries in the Six Nations as well as scoring the only try in Ireland’s first ever home win against New Zealand helped him scoop the award.
Stockdale told the BBC “I’m incredibly thankful for getting picked. It’s been a very fast moving year from start to finish but it’s been really, really enjoyable.”
Romain Ntamack – France
The uncapped 19-year old centre Romain Ntamack will make his international debut when France take on Wales at the Stade de France on Friday. He takes the experienced Mathieu Bastareaud’s place in the side alongside Wesley Fofana.
Although he hasn’t received the same level of praise as Ireland’s Stockdale, Ntamack did help France win the 2018 World Rugby Under-20 Championship and has also become a regular for his club side Toulouse. The match against Wales provides the perfect opportunity for Ntamack to make his mark on the international scene at senior level.
With his stock currently on the rise, it’s worth keeping a look out for this young Frenchman. Having shown some good form at club level, if he could bring that to the French national team then we may see France move up another level.