Every side is blooding some new talent, so get clued up
We’ve just had a Rugby World Cup, so it’s no surprise that there’s more new Six Nations players than usual. But even taking that into account, there’s a whole host of new faces ready to burst onto the scene in round one.
Steve Borthwick admitted he did not expect to be naming five uncapped players in his matchday 23 against Italy. And England are not the only side with some new Six Nations players for you to get to know. Here’s 11 players worth keeping an eye on.
New Six Nations players
Calvin Nash – Ireland
Mack Hansen’s untimely dislocated shoulder has opened the door for Munster’s Calvin Nash to wear No 14 for Ireland against France.
Nash, 28, is from Limerick and made his Ireland debut off the bench against Italy in a Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture last year. Nash is 5ft 10in and weighs 14st. He has benefitted from Ireland’s A team being revived.
He featured for Emerging Ireland on the tour to South Africa in 2022 and scored seven tries in 17 appearances in all competitions last season, helping Munster to the URC title.
Munster coach Graham Rowntree has revealed that Nash tops their kick-chase stats and believes that becoming more professional has helped him to the international stage.
Jack Crowley – Ireland
Johnny Sexton’s successor is a moniker that carries a lot of weight, but Jack Crowley has shown he has the mettle and temperament to wear Ireland’s No 10 shirt.
Instrumental in Munster’s success last season, Crowley is now steering the ship for Andy Farrell’s side after injuries to Ross and Harry Byrne and Joey Carbery’s loss of form.
Crowley, 24, won his first cap against Fiji in November 2022 as a replacement. Crowley slotted a match-winning drop-goal against Leinster in the URC semi-final last season and delivered a pinpoint cross-field kick for Garry Ringrose in Ireland’s World Cup win over Scotland in Paris.
He’s highly rated by former Ireland fly-half Ronan O’Gara who revealed he tried to poach him for La Rochelle a few years ago but Crowley chose to fight for his spot at his province.
Nolann Le Garrec – France
Maxime Lucu may be the man wearing No 9 with Antoine Dupont trying to crack sevens but scrum-half replacement Nolann Le Garrec is someone to keep a close eye on.
The Racing 92 man has been in sparkling form at club level, bagging a hat-trick against Oyonnax before Christmas. Worryingly for other sides, Racing coach Stuart Lancaster insisted his charge can still improve.
Le Garrec, 21, is a former France U20 captain – he shone in the 2021 U20 Six Nations coming up against the likes of England’s Jack van Poortvliet.
Posolo Tuilagi – France
Another man on the bench for France, it’s hard to miss 150kg second row Posolo Tuilagi, the nephew of England centre Manu and son of legendary Leicester hard man Henry.
Tuilagi is just 19 years old but has put in some monstrous performances for Perpignan and France U20, helping them to a third successive junior world title last year. Born in Samoa, he has spent the last 16 years near the Pyrenees at the bottom of France.
We were expecting another huge foreign-born lock in the shape of Toulouse’s Emmanuel Meafou to be the big new addition to the French engine room but now Tuilagi will have a chance to mix it with the big boys. So to speak…
Fraser Dingwall – England
Good things come to those who wait. But boy did Fraser Dingwall have to wait. When Steve Borthwick named the Northampton Saints centre in his 36-man group for the Six Nations last month, it was the tenth England squad that Dingwall had been called-up for.
But only now is the 24-year-old set to win his first cap at 12 against Italy. Scotland were thought to be sniffing around the dual-qualified man who has been central to the Premiership leaders Saints’ good form this season.
Ethan Roots – England
A former New Zealand Maori representative, Exeter Chiefs flanker Ethan Roots, 26, is all in with England, who he qualifies for as his father was born in Reading.
A martial arts man who grew up in Auckland, Roots competed in jiu-jitsu internationally before being booted out of his gym for dating the coach’s daughter.
He struggled to make a name for himself at Super Rugby side Crusaders and after playing for North Harbour, he got picked up by the Ospreys in Wales for whom he made 38 appearances before switching to Devon this season.
England team manager and World Cup-winner Richard Hill noticed Roots’ appetite for grunt work in the Premiership Rugby Cup and alerted Steve Borthwick to the flanker’s potential while they were in France for the World Cup.
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso – England
Another man who has had a breakthrough season at Exeter, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is a speedy and strong winger who could easily have been playing for Wales.
Born and bred in the Welsh capital, Feyi-Waboso missed out on a place to study medicine at Cardiff University. He enrolled at Aston University and joined Wasps instead and when they went under, Rob Baxter picked up the phone.
English qualified through a grandparent, Steve Borthwick made his admiration clear. Feyi-Waboso is thought to have turned down Wales in part due to the 25-cap rule and the prospect of having to again disrupt his current studies at Exeter University to continue to represent Wales.
When Warren Gatland was asked about the player, he revealed some of his coaches had some choice words regarding the situation. Gatland said: “He’s definitely got some talent, there’s no doubt about it. He’s as green as anything. He’s obviously had an approach from England, and he’s decided to take that path.
“In saying that there’s a few Welsh coaches that when they heard he’d decided that, and he was born and bred in Cardiff; some of their comments weren’t that positive about him. If he doesn’t want to play for Wales you can understand what the Welsh are like about that so they weren’t too disappointed about him making that decision.”
Fin Smith – England
Ever since he told Rugby World that he was partial to bacon bits in a Five Guys milkshake, we knew Fin Smith was different. But it’s on the field where he has shown he is a special talent.
The former Warwick School pupil, 21, came through at Worcester and made his debut at 18. He went viral after cameras caught fellow fly-half Dan Biggar giving him some words of wisdom after a heavy defeat.
Worcester’s demise and Biggar’s move to Toulon brought Smith to Northampton and he’s never looked back. He has piloted the Saints to the top of the Premiership table, but perhaps his most eye-catching display – as referenced by Steve Borthwick – was helping 14-man Northampton overhaul Munster at Thomond Park in the Champions Cup.
Scotland first enquired about his availability when he was just 18 but the future is white and potentially very bright for both Smith and England.
Chandler Cunningham-South – England
Born in England but raised in New Zealand after his family emigrated when he was three, it has been a (literally) long journey for flanker/No 8 Chandler Cunningham-South. Another England U20 star, he made a name for himself at London Irish before crossing the capital to join Harlequins ahead of this season.
A big threat with ball in hand, he previously trained with the New Zealand Warriors NRL side before he joined the Irish academy. Still only 20, Cunningham-South has been tipped to become a great lineout operator by club mentor Joe Launchbury.
Cameron Winnett – Wales
After just 15 professional games, Cardiff’s Cameron Winnett has been handed the full-back jersey for Wales in the absence of the retired Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams, who is unavailable out in Japan.
Winnett has been a standout performer in the Wales U20 side, where he played with now senior captain Dafydd Jenkins, Mason Grady and fellow new boy Alex Mann. It was thought he would be unavailable for the first couple of Six Nations games after undergoing jaw surgery but a rapid recovery has seen him fast tracked into the team.
Warren Gatland called him a good footballer and that comes from a love for Liverpool FC.
Kyle Rowe – Scotland
Blair Kinghorn’s knee injury opened the door for Edinburgh’s Kyle Rowe to be named at full-back for the trip to Cardiff to face Wales.
It has been some route to becoming one of Scotland’s new Six Nations players for the 25-year-old dubbed the unluckiest man in rugby by The Times after three redundancies and an ACL injury on his Scotland debut.
Rowe was playing sevens when the programme was disbanded amid the pandemic and saw his Glasgow deal end. He did join the new GB Sevens and as part of that spent time with Edinburgh but when he missed out on Tokyo he moved to London Irish.
He made his Scotland debut against Argentina in 2022 but suffered a serious knee injury in Salta after 12 minutes. Irish then went bust and he returned to Glasgow. What a story.
Which of the new Six Nations players are you most excited to see play? Let us know on social media or at email@example.com