In this piece we take a look at players who are certain to be on the plane to Japan, and who could be missing out.
Rugby World Cup Player Watch
With the 2019 Six Nations in the books after Rounds One and Two, the weekend’s action provided us with some excellent performances as well as some that were lacking. Within the context of a Rugby World Cup year, performances in tournaments like the Six Nations will have considerable impact on a players participation.
As a result, in this piece we are going to take a look at some players who have punched their plane ticket to Japan, who are in the mix, and who may be struggling to get selected for their respective countries.
Who has punched their ticket?
Courtney Lawes (England)
The lock position in the England squad is immensely competitive with Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Lawes all vying for the two starting spots. However, considering his bruising performance against France, and his ability to pack down in the back-row, the Northampton man is all but assured to get on the plane to Japan.
Peter O’Mahoney (Ireland)
This takes little explanation really. He was Man of the Match against Scotland and had a physical aggression that went missing against England in round one. Given the Irish have Scotland in their Rugby World Cup group, the result last weekend could be psychologically pivotal later this year and O’Mahoney is sure to be a part of that match.
Grant Gilchrist (Scotland)
When they are both fighting fit, many expect the Gray brothers to take up the two starting lock spots in Scotland’s team however Gilchrist is fast becoming one of the first names on Gregor Townsend’s team sheet given his incredible work-rate and aptitude in the line-out. He is sure to be on the plane.
Josh Navidi (Wales)
The Welsh back-row is an immensely competitive place at the moment but Navidi has shown just how important he is with performances against France and Italy. Busy, energetic, aggressively physical and a menace at the breakdown, he can play on either side of the scrum so his presence should be a certainty later this year.
Who is in the mix?
Braam Steyn (Italy)
Arguably the best player on the pitch against Wales, Steyn was very good despite being on the losing side once again. He could provide some stuff competition for Jake Polledri who is returning from injury at the moment.
Sam Johnston (Scotland)
While others around him have been criticised for their defensive positioning, he has looked solid. He is another kicking outlet when Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell are not in optimum position. He was rewarded with a try when he tracked the run of Russell and senses a sublime offload was coming. A midfield “glue” kind of player, should certainly be in any greater squad, on form.
Who is struggling?
Damian Penaud (France)
Bombarded against England, at times he dealt with the punishment well, but he also made simple mistakes that revealed his inexperience. Given how the French often have a remarkable lack of patience for bad performances in sport, it would not be surprising to see Penaud omitted later this year.
Yoann Huget (France)
He had an absolute shocker against Wales and England in the first two rounds of the Six Nations.
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