Ruck rounds up its scout report of players to look out for during the World Cup, ending with Pool D. If some of the names mentioned in this or any of our previous installments of ‘Ones to watch’ are new to you, they may not be by the end of October. Remember, you read it here first!
France: Scott Spedding
Standing at 6″2 and weighing in at 214lb, Scott Spedding is an absolute beast of a fullback. At 29, he is somewhat of a late bloomer on the international stage, as he only made his France debut last November. Spedding did however impress in his first Six Nations this year, and proved that aside from his size and strength making him an excellent spearhead for attacks, he also fairly adept from the boot. The hulking back was born in South Africa but claimed French citizenship last year, and was snapped up by Les Bleus straight away. On the hunt for his first international try, don’t bet against the Clermont man to set the ball rolling on the grand stage.
Ireland: Dave Kearney
The younger Kearney brother by three years, winger Dave is quickly establishing himself as a must pick for Ireland along with fullback sibling Rob. Kearney the younger made his Ireland debut in November 2013, and subsequently went on to star in the Six Nations the following year on Ireland’s way to the crown. A string of stellar performances in an otherwise disappointing set of warm up matches for the World Cup proved to be a shining light for Ireland. Brilliant under the high ball, the dynamic tough tackling winger is always a a stand out player for the Emerald Isle.
Italy: Leonardo Sarto
If there is one component that Italy have sorely lacked for years, it is pace. Step up, Leonardo Sarto. The 23-year-old winger can be relatively anonymous for large parts of a match, but he always then seems to pop up at the right place, at the right time to soar across the line for Italy. He touched down in his debut match in last year’s Six Nations against Scotland, and has three in that competition from nine appearances. The tall winger is entering his first World Cup and is a real danger man for the Azzurri, and one to watch this Autumn.
Canada: Conor Trainor
Set to play in his second Rugby World Cup, Conor Trainor will look to add to his excellent international scoring ratio. The big centre has seven tries from 20 appearances, and his World Cup stats read as played four, scored two.The BC Bears back gets around the pitch and is at the heart of the action, whether it be attack or defence, and he is a proud sportsman, receiving a gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games with the Canada Sevens side. At 25, he may even have one more tournament in him, but he will be focused on helping his side to compete against some tough opposition in Pool D.
Romania: Paula Kinikinilau
With just one Romania cap to his name, Paula Kinikinilau could be set to make a big impact – in more ways than one. Standing 6″1 tall but weighing 16 and a half stone, Kinikinilau is 231lb of pure muscle. The Tonga born centre will pack a punch for whomever he decides to run into, with or without the ball. If Romania are to compete at all, they will need their big men to stand up and be counted, and although he may look diminuitive, Kinikinilau is as big and strong as they come.