Ruck continues to pinpoint the men who shoulder the responsibility of living up to the expectations of a nation. Mark Siglioccolo shines a spotlight on the danger men in Pool B…
South Africa: Bryan Habana
The superstar of South African rugby didn’t just burst on to the scene in 2007, he exploded on to it. His blistering pace down the Springbok wing caused devastation against all who faced him, and led to him equalling the great Jonah Lomu’s record of eight tries in a single World Cup. Although his cheetah like pace may be diminishing at the age of 32, Habana has become more of a tactical leader and uses his gazelle like movements more sparingly as he urges his side towards the try line. Expect a measured Habana to emerge as he looks to improve upon his record as South Africa’s top try scorer of all time.
Samoa: George Pisi
Samoan centre George Pisi is 207lb of pure muscle with the speed and reactions of a sailfish, the fastest in the sea commonly found in the Pacific ocean. The middle brother of three Rugby Union players all key to the Samoa squad, George has been running riot for Northampton Saints along with his younger sibling Ken. Although he may not be a prolific try scorer, George’s forward momentum drives the whole team forward. One thing is for certain, the Pisi name will be prominent during Samoa’s matches, and the centre will be trying his best to break his World Cup duck.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg
The flying fullback was the shining light in an otherwise lacklustre Scotland side during this year’s Six Nations. A statistician’s dream, Hogg made the most metres and beat the most defenders of any player in the tournament. At still just 23-years-young, Hogg has an incredibly bright future ahead of him at both domestic and international level. Skilled and trusty with his boot as well as being dynamic going forward and reliable in defence, the Glasgow Warrior will surely be the difference maker should Scotland manage to escape Pool B.
Japan: Michael Leitch
The New Zealand born Fijian giant is participating in his second rugby World cup for Japan, this time as captain. With 11 test tries to his name from 41 games, the flying flanker has a fantastic turn of pace for a big man and leads his team by example. He scored just one try versus Tonga at the last World cup in a man of the match display, and he will fancy his chances of adding to his personal tally in this intriguing Pool. At 26, he has future tournaments In him and will want to remind the world of his talents whilst overcoming the adversity of suffering a broken arm and leg a couple of years ago.
USA: Chris Wyles
Captain America Chris Wyles has played his entire club career in England, having moved here at the age of 11. An impressive stint at Nottingham earned him a move to Northampton Saints in 2006, but it was not until he moved to North London outfit Saracens that the Stamford, Connecticut born back really came into his own. With over 200 points scored for USA and two World Cup tries to his name, this could well be Wyles’ swansong tournament at the age of 31, and he will look to end an impressive career on a high.