Rugby World Cup ‘Ones to watch’ – Pool B
Pool B is now in the frame as Ruck sweeps through to find potential stars of the tournament.
South Africa: Eben Etzebeth
This man mountain will strike fear into the heart of grown men, and there is a good chance that he will flatten whomever is foolish enough to get in his way. Eben Eztebeth is a 6″8, 258 lb monster of a lock that can bench one and a quarter times his own body weight. The towering second row has formed a formidable partnership with the equally imposing and highly lauded Victor Matfield, the most capped Springbok of all time who is playing in his fourth and final Rugby World Cup. Eztebeth has youth on his side at the age of 23, and is 38-year-old Matfield’s heir apparent.
Samoa: Ken Pisi
The youngest of the three Pisi brothers in the Samoan setup, Ken is a fast and tricky customer. Having joined middle brother George at Northampton Saints in 2012, the 23-year-old wing has ran in 16 tries and has been an integral part of many others. His international career is still in its infancy with just six caps to his name, but a minimum of four World Cup games is ample opportunity for him to register his first try for his country, and run riot in Pool B.
Japan: Amanaki Mafi
Amanaki Lelei Mafi is a third row of Tongan descent who has made bright start to his international career with Japan. The sturdy looking back rower possesses a sharp turn of pace, which allowed him to score a try on his debut in a match against the New Zealand Maori in November. He now has two tries from just five starts for Japan, after scoring the winner in their final World Cup warm up match against Georgia, and at 25, he is certainly one to watch in this tournament, and beyond.
Scotland: Mark Bennett
Mark Bennett has graduated from the Under 20s in style and has carried on where he left off. The try scoring exploits of this talented centre endeared him to followers of the Under 20 team as he racked up 45 points in 23 appearances. The youngster then broke his way into the senior side and has since scored three tries in nine caps, including two in this year’s Six Nations and one in the World Cup warm up demolition of Italy. Bennett has been prolific during his Glasgow Warriors career too, scoring over 70 points, and the 22-year-old is stronger than he looks.
USA: Brett Thompson
Brett Thompson is one of 20 men in the 31 man USA squad to have never played in a World Cup. The young winger has one try to his name from four caps, and currently plays for the USA Sevens side. At 6″3 and weighing 14 stone, there is a lot of Brett Thompson. However he is relatively light for a rugby player of his height, and he uses that to his advantage as he is able to burst through tackles with his speed. The Eagles will need their World Cup debutants to spread their wings and fly from the offset, and young Thompson could be one man who could make a real difference.