Take a look at our 14 players to watch in the Guinness Pro 14 here.
Guinness Pro14 Players To Watch
Which players should you be keeping an eye on this upcoming Guinness Pro14 season? We take a look at one player for each team in this piece.
He scored eight tries in his 11 Pro14 appearances last season, including a hat-trick against Scarlets, so expect to see more of 23-year-old wing Monty Ioane this term. If he doesn’t touch down himself when making breaks and beating defenders (he appeared in the top charts for these stats despite playing in only half the games), he can help set up chances for others.
When Tom James took a break from the game, many feared a dearth of power on the wing, but Owen Lane, a 20-year-old from Rhiwbina, filled the void with six tries in 19 games. A 13 by inclination, Lane has the pace and near 16st frame to excel out wide.
Scrum-half Rudy Paige will be motivated to prove John Mitchell wrong after being cast into the wilderness by the Bulls coach. With sharp service and masses of Super Rugby experience, the scrum-half should prove a calming influence on an exciting back-line.
Bundee Aki is the star attraction but fellow centre Thomas Farrell also caught the eye last term. He topped the Pro14 charts for most carries (217) and offloads (43 – 14 more than Charles Piutau) while he was fourth in the list of defenders beaten, too, with 55. Connacht need more of the same from him.
Related: 2018-19 Guinness Pro 14 Fixtures
Hooker Elliot Dee seems to have already announced himself on the Pro14 scene in a big way, but there is some huge buzz building for a front-row buddy of his. Much is expected of tighthead Leon Brown in the near future. Now capped, he is described as an athlete with freakish strength who could become a Test titan.
Simon Hickey, brought in at No 10 from Bordeaux having previously played for the Blues in Auckland, is an exciting capture. Edinburgh have been without a commanding fly-half for a while and the word on Hickey is he could be the answer to what has been a problem position for the club. If Hickey is the real deal, they’re in business.
With Russell gone and Pete Horne likely to be part of Gregor Townsend’s international squad, this could be a big season for Adam Hastings. The 21-year-old fly-half was capped for the first time on Scotland’s summer tour and was excellent in the demolition of the Pumas in Resistencia.
With 83, Leinster scored more tries than any other team in the Pro14 regular season. Then their backs coach, Girvan Dempsey, left for Bath. So all eyes will be on ex-fly-half Felipe Contepomi, who has returned to Dublin to join the coaching team, to see if he can maintain their standards in attack – and take them to a higher level.
While lock Tadhg Beirne comes in with the promise of turnovers to come, it is exciting young Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery who will garner the most attention. It’s his time to shine, away from the RDS.
Adam Beard had a breakthrough summer tour with Wales, where he showed ball-carrying prowess, a hunger in defence and set-piece solidity. It could be the springboard to him starting regularly.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne went off the boil in Scotland in recent seasons and will hope a move to West Wales has the same rejuvenating effects as it did on John Barclay. Gareth Davies is first-choice nine but this Scot will be sure to make an impact from the bench.
In some very trying circumstances last season, lock Bobby de Wee was a binding force and a fulcrum point as the pressure came on. He and flank Tienie Burger are hard-working young men you will spot again and again.
Many want to see Jordi Murphy as the out-and-out, run-hungry No 8 for this province, then there’s the continued rise of the lethal Jacob Stockdale on the wing. However, the instalment of Billy Burns at ten will be the most fascinating aspect. Can he get this side firing and playing with a nice rhythm?
If there was one bright spot from a dismal Six Nations for Italy, it was the joyful broken-field running of Matteo Minozzi, who crossed the whitewash four times in five games. Just 22, the hot-stepping full-back is full of enterprising play.
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