With England kicking off the Rugby World Cup tonight against Fiji at Twickenham, we look at the personal duels that could determine whether the hosts get off to the perfect start or fall at the very first hurdle.
Chris Robshaw vs. Akapusi Qera
The two Captain’s, who coincidently both play openside flanker, will stand toe-to-toe in the long-awaited World Cup opener. Despite having the same number on their backs, they have different ways of operating. Qera can be devastating with the ball in hand while Robshaw is a more traditional hard-tackling back-row. Putting their contrasts aside both men’s leadership qualities will be tested tonight and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Anthony Watson v Nemani Nadolo
The winger’s also play with contrasting styles. Watson is all about pace and has a swift sidestep whereas Nadolo is a man mountain (6ft 5in and 20st) who will run straight through you to get to the try-line. Both are proven try-scorers but defencively Watson will need to be at his best tonight to deal with Nadolo yet he will cause the Fijian trouble with his agility and great leap when England attack. These two could steal the show.
Ben Youngs v Nikola Matawalu
The two scrum-halves both have the x-factor though at the same time they again are very dissimilar players. Youngs will keep England ticking over with his controlled way of doing things while Matawalu is more of a maverick, playing with an unpredictable style. The two influential playmakers will play a huge role in how the game goes and it’s safe to say this will be another great individual contest.
Tom Youngs v Sunia Koto
England must win the set-piece battle. Therefore, the role of the hooker will be essential for the men in white and although British and Irish Lion Youngs has had a tough year he will be expected to take his game to another level tonight. Coming up against him is 35-year old veteran Koto, noted for his dynamism and impressive turn of pace, indicating we once again have two entirely different players matching up.
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