Sale spent the first few months of the campaign drifting in and out of the top four in the Aviva Premiership – and 19-year-old back Will Addison played a big part in the club’s early-season success.
A product of the Sale Sharks Academy, Addison is studying business studies at Manchester University. He made his first-team debut in a pre-season friendly against Oxford University in 2010, introducing himself to the rugby world by scoring two tries in the full-back jersey.
A further four Premiership appearances at the end of last season brought two more tries, and his form has continued to shine. He was Man of the Match in Sale’s season opener at Worcester and has continued to be one of the club’s standout performers, playing at centre and on the wing.
He is no stranger to receiving accolades, as he was awarded both the Players’ Player and Coaches’ Player of the Year awards at former clubs Penrith and Upper Eden.
This season is Addison’s first as an England U20 squad member, and head coach Rob Hunter is already impressed with what he’s seen.
“Will’s timing in attack, and his running onto the ball, is very, very good,” says Hunter. “For a young guy in his first full Premiership season he’s done exceptionally well.
“He’s very coachable and he’s got a lot going for him at a club that is promoting youth. He’ll play a big part in our Six Nations and Junior World Cup campaigns.”
Rugby World Verdict: Addison looks set to follow in Mark Cueto’s footsteps. Bea Asprey
The young heads in the Llanelli valleys have started to make headlines, and 18-year-old Rhodri Williams is the latest scrum-half to be snapping at his elders’ heels.
The son of former Swansea scrum-half Alan Williams, the 5ft 11in and 12st 8lb teenager has been involved with the Scarlets set-up since 16, and was picked to join the region’s academy on the back of his U18 performances for both the Scarlets and Wales.
Having trained with the Scarlets’ senior team in the summer, Williams was picked to make his senior debut, starting in a pre-season friendly last August against Rotherham, and his career has since taken off as quickly as his own feet carry him. His speed hasn’t been the only thing that has impressed the Scarlets coaches, however. As well as being fiercely sharp, he has a fantastic skill-set and understanding of the game.
Not only has he featured in several RaboDirect Pro12 games but he’s also had a taste of Heineken Cup action, coming off the bench in the November wins against Castres and Northampton.
Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies says: “Rhodri has been a revelation for us. We’re very excited about him, and he has a very complete game for someone so young.
“He’d already showing great maturity and is a bright boy who contributes verbally to sessions, something they don’t all do. He’s also shown he’s able to make key decisions on the field.”
Rugby World Verdict: Williams has the skills and the brains to reach heady heights. Bea Asprey