Ruck rounds off its sweep of the Pools to reel out the big fish likely to make a splash in Pool D.
France: Wesley Fofana
This centre-cum-wing has lit up many a Six Nations for France and he is expected to make a big impact in what will be his maiden World Cup. Nicknamed ‘Le Guépard’ in his home nation, ‘The Cheetah’ causes devastation with his natural ability and pace whether he plays inside centre, outside centre or on the wing. A Clermont legend in the making, Fofana has suffered some injury setbacks within the last year, but will be looking to cement his name in French folklore as Les Bleus go in search of that elusive World Cup crown.
Ireland: Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton is now to Ireland, what Jonny Wilkinson once was to England. So seamless has the transition been from mythical flyhalf Ronan O’Gara, it is clear to see how Sexton’s natural ability has been nurtured under O’Gara’s tutelage. Not only would you stake your house on him completing all his penalties, but the Leinster legend has so many facets to his game that he is undoubtedly Ireland’s most valuable player. His absence is always noticeable, and he will be hoping to shake off his penchant for suffering concussions and concentrate on firing Ireland towards a Six Nations and World Cup double.
Italy: Sergio Parisse
The inspirational Azzurri captain is the most capped player in Italian rugby history, with 112 to his name, and is widely considered as one of the best players in the game today. Often earmarked as the man that shoulders the burden for Italy, the Stade Francais Number 8 is frequently frustrated as his obvious talent is not enough to single handedly defeat the best teams in the world. At 31, this is likely Argentine born maestro’s last World Cup outing. His expectations will be realistic, but ambitious nonetheless, and they will be eyeing an upset to escape the Pool in second place. Parisse’s passion is clear to see as he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he will just want to do his nation proud.
Canada: Jeff Hassler
The young winger is looking to bounce back from a five month stretch on the sidelines through injury and add to his four international tries. Fellow Osprey’s teammate and housemate Tyler Ardron will be leading the Canucks out as captain, and will be looking to Hassler to provide some much needed relief for his team with bursts with the ball downfield. Hassler does not yey possess a wealth of international experience with the seniors, but he was a star at Under 20 level as well as plenty of experience with Ospreys, and could become an even bigger star if he can penetrate some tough back lines in this Pool.
Romania: Cătălin Fercu
Cătălin Fercu is somewhat of an enigma. The fullback/winger was instrumental in securing his nation’s passage to the World Cup four years ago and was set to star in New Zealand before sensationally withdrawing from the squad at the last minute, as he refused to fly such a long way. Saracens have signed the tricky winger, who became Romania’s leading try scorer at the tender age of 26. Now 28, the Oaks’ try scoring extraordinaire is arguably at the peak of his potential, and it may be about time that he finally receives the recognition that his talent deserves.