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A NEW year means new hopes, and the latest issue of Rugby World throws the spotlight on a clutch of players aiming high for club and country. England flanker Tom Wood speaks about the inner drive that took him from the brink of despair to Man of the Match against the All Blacks; Tom English analyses Johnny Sexton, the hot favourite for the Lions fly-half shirt this summer; Stuart Barnes examines the candidates for the Wales No 10 shirt in the wake of Rhys Priestland’s injury; and we meet the refreshingly bullish newcomer to Scottish rugby, Sean Maitland.

The Lions are never far from our thoughts, of course, and they feature highly in both Stephen Jones’s Ten New Year Wishes and our Big Debate, in which we ask whether Argentina, now part of the Rugby Championship, should be invited to host a Lions tour. IRB chief Brett Gosper not only answers reader questions but features in a look at one of European rugby’s heavyweight aspirants  – Racing Metro. And we delve into more sensitive issues: Exeter hooker Neil Clark recalls his transition from teenage thug to respected rugby pro, while ex-England prop Duncan Bell talks movingly of his battle with depression.

Save your Season is back –  find out which amateur team will be benefiting from our performance makeover – and check out our columnists: Sean Holley, Paul Wallace and Dr James Robson discuss the new Welsh Game Board, the Heineken Cup knockout battle and rugby injuries respectively.

You’ll find this and a whole lot more in the February issue of Rugby World.

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Front Row…

30 minutes with Mike McCarthy

RWC 2015 - CEO Debbie Jevans is pulling her weight as preparations for RWC 2015 are ramped up

Lions bolters – Gareth Edwards and Gavin Hastings on surprise contenders for the Lions tour

Hotshots – Amber Reed and Rhys Patchell

Paul Wallace – The former Lion picks his eight Heineken quarter-finalists

Sean Holley – The ex-Ospreys coach’s verdict on the new Welsh Game Board

James Robson – The Lions doctor says rugby has turned a corner on injuries

Spotlights…

Mike Phillips – The scrum-half tells Sarah Mockford how Wales can get their season back on track

Craig Gilroy – It’s already been a season to remember for the Ireland wing, and it’s not over yet. By Katie Field

Jo Watmore- The centre is starring for England in both codes. Sarah Mockford reports

Grant Gilchrist – The Edinburgh man is set to follow Richie Gray into Scotland’s engine room, says Owain Jones

Centres…

Tom Wood – From sidelined to sensational — the England flanker’s journey

No 10 battle – Stuart Barnes analyses Wales’ contenders for the fly-half shirt

Johnny Sexton – The fate of the Lions could rest on the Irish pivot’s shoulders

Sean Maitland – Scottish rugby’s latest arrival isn’t afraid to spell out his goals

Pro Insight – Join Adam Beard for a weights session that is truly explosive

Fitness – How to stay sharp all season

Pro’s Playbook – A move you can learn to help you break a defensive line

Mini Rugby – How to throw in at a lineout

Save Your Season – Meet an amateur club ready for a performance makeover

Stephen Jones – What’s on our columnist’s rugby wish-list for 2013?

Neil Clark – From thug to rugby pro – the Exeter hooker’s amazing story

Brett Gosper – We put readers’ questions to the IRB’s new chief executive

Burns Brothers – Freddie Burns’s biggest fan is also his most dangerous rival…

Big Debate – Should Argentina host Lions tours? Read two viewpoints

Racing Metro – They have big spending power and an owner with a vision

Duncan Bell – The ex-England prop opens up about mental health issues

Review of 2012 – Refresh your memory of a year of twists and turns

Northampton – Meet the Saints’ talent-spotter

Charity Cases – Find out what challenges rugby stars are doing in 2013

Backs…

Grass Roots – News and stories from all areas

Schools – Who’s in our Team of the Term?

Essentials – New rugby books and products

Uncovered – Quins’ Ugo Monye on a spooky dream that his mum had

Tour Tale – Was this a Leicester prank too far? The police thought so…

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