Six Nations 2017: Six players to watch

Six Nations 2017: Six players to watch

Ahead of the start of the tournament in Edinburgh on Saturday, RUCK picks six players who could light up the European stage:

1. Jack Nowell (England)
For me, the Exeter man has it all.

Nowell missed England’s autumn internationals after suffering a quad injury but is back firing on all cylinders for the start of the Six Nations.

The 23-year-old is expected to go straight back into Eddie Jones’ first XV and so he should, the winger is in the form of his life.

He faces stiff competition from the likes of Anthony Watson, George North and Liam Williams for a spot on this summer’s Lions tour but for me, Nowell in better form than them and has a better all-around balance to his game.

2. Mohamed Boughanmi (France)
Uncapped Boughanmi is possibly the best tighthead in Europe right now.

His departure from Toulon in the summer has seen him move from a bit-part player to a spearhead as he has helped lead Stade Rochelais’ rise up the Top 14 table.

With the unfancied club from the west going head-to-head with Clermont at the top of the table, Boughanmi is enjoying some well-earned time in the spotlight.

Fresh fresh blood up front could be just what Guy Novès needs to ignite the new-look Les Bleus.

3. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
The comparisons between Ringrose and Brian O’Driscoll are getting louder.

Ringrose, who’s won three caps thus far, sliced through the Australian defence to score a memorable try at the Aviva Stadium during the Autumn Internationals.

The 22-year-old’s low body shape and electric turn of pace helps him to elude defenders almost with ease

The Leinster back has a bright future ahead of him, and he is certainly someone, along with centre partner Robbie Henshaw, that will be on Warren Gatland’s radar ahead of the Lions tour this summer.

4. Carlo Canna (Italy)
The Italian player I will be keen to watch is for once not Sergio Parisse.

Fly-half Canna, who plays his club rugby with Zebre, was a breakthrough star for the Azzurri in last year’s competition.

Canna will be responsible for orchestrating Italy’s backline but he has the ability to bring runners such as Gonzalo Garcia and Leonardo Sarto into the game with his varied style of play.

Though expectations of the side are humble, playmaker Canna will be hoping to improve the Italians attacking game as Conor O’Shea looks to build upon their historic victory against South Africa in the Autumn.

5. Zander Fagerson (Scotland)
With stalwart WP Nel ruled out, it’s time to see if 20-year-old Fagerson can rise to the occasion

There is little doubt losing Nel is a huge blow ahead of Vern Cotter’s swansong Six Nations, but Fagerson has given Scotland fans reasons for optimism.

The prop has one cap to his name but he is a big boy and he is strong, which is what you need as a tighthead.

All the qualities are there and it will be exciting to see if the young man can step up to Test rugby, starting with Ireland on Saturday.

6. Thomas Young (Wales)
The son of former Wales and Lions prop Dai Young has been in sensational form for Wasps this season.

Young broke into the Wales squad a fortnight ago following several outstanding Wasps displays.

The abrasive back-rower has featured at blindside and openside flanker for Wasps, but he is probably more a seven, making him the ideal competition for the out of form Sam Warburton.

And with Taulupe Faletau’s expected absence for their opening game against Italy this weekend, it might open the door for 24-year-old to make his debut from the bench.