Ruck selects the men charged with the expectation of taking the fight to the opposition during what is set to be a thrilling World Cup. Mark Siglioccolo examines the danger men in Pool A…
Australia: David Pocock
Having truly announced his arrival on the international stage back in 2008, it is perhaps understandable to forget that David Pocock is still only 27-years-young. The openside flanker has made a half century of appearances for the Wallabies and would certainly have made far more had he not been beset with injuries in the past couple of years. The Zimbabwe born big man has made a name for himself by bulldozing his way up field with ball in hand, and with him expected to play alongside his protégé Michael Hooper in the starting X5, expect them both to wreak havoc in Pool A.
England: Jonathan Joseph
Neither fans of Bath nor shrewd Aviva Premiership followers would have been the least bit surprised that the speedy centre burst on to the scene and set this year’s Six Nations on fire. In his early days at London Irish, Joseph was a raw talent. At Bath he continues to play on instinct but he has learnt to harness his pace and strength to mold himself into a truly devastating weapon. He has already established himself as a skilled locksmith in cracking the opposition’s defence, so expect to experience déjà vu as he crosses the try line again, and again.
Wales: George North
Back in 2011, super sub George North made history with a brace against Namibia to make him the youngest ever try scorer in the history of the Rugby World Cup. A string of outstanding performances and 50 Welsh caps later, North continues to break records and at still just 23, he will almost certainly reach Gethin Jenkins record of 114 appearances. Beset by recurring concussions earlier in the year, the Welsh wing is expected to be fighting fit and his exceptional talent will light up this Pool, and North could well be the guiding star that leads his nation towards the quarter finals.
Fiji: Niki Goneva
Playing in what will likely be his last World Cup, Vereniki Goneva has been showcasing his brutish style of rugby in the Aviva Premiership for the past three years, to the delight of Leicester Tigers fans. The stocky centre-cum-wing has made a career out of terrorising opponents with his deft movement and reserves of strength. With 14 international tries to his name, the Flying Fijian is just six behind the all time record set by Sanivalati Laulau. A more realistic target however is two more tries, which would see him join three other compatriots as joint second highest try scorer for his nation.
Uruguay: Agustin Ormaechea
Placed in an incredibly tough Pool, if Uruguay are to make any sort of impact in just their third World Cup appearance, then it will be through Agustin Ormaechea pulling the strings. With over 100 points accumulated from 20 caps, the 24-year-old scrum-half dictates the pace when Toros have the ball and is reliable from the boot. He will likely have little opportunity to light up the tournament but his quality should stand out nonetheless, as he looks to step out of the shadow of his father Diego, who holds the record of being the oldest player to grace the competition, whilst being considered to be Uruguay’s greatest ever player.