On the eve of the 2016 Six Nations opening weekend, we take a look at the 6 players we think you need to keep an eye on over the course of the tournament. We will also show our prediction for this year’s overall winner.
Six to watch:
1. Jack Clifford – England, Backrow: Not given the nod to start against Scotland this weekend, but we expect to see him exploding onto the international stage at around the 60-minute mark tomorrow! Strong ball carrier and a menace at the breakdown, certainly knows his way to the try line.
2. Virimi Vakatawa – France, Wing: The French/Fijian speedster has been called up from the France 7s squad to play his part in Les Bleus 2016 campaign. With his rampaging runs and monstrous presence in defence, Virim has become a star on the international 7s circuit. Look forward to seeing if the young winger can transfer his scintillating 7s abilities into the 15 man game.
3. Sean O’Brien – Ireland, Backrow: “The Tullow Tank” as he is perhaps better known in the Irish provinces. Always breaking the gain line and is usually taking 2 – 3 defenders with him. The talisman for this Irish side since the POC/BOD era.
4. Michele Campagnaro – Italy, Centre: Two tries on his Six Nations debut versus Wales, and his performance alone in that game kept them in it until the dying minutes. Has not been given much game time since joining the Chiefs, but will be looking to impress for the Azzuri.
5. Mark Bennett – Scotland, Centre: 2015 was certainly the year for the 23-year-old Glasgow Warrior. Scoring his first international try against England at HQ, getting the call up for Vern Cotter’s 31-man RWC squad, scoring in 3 of 4 matches including a pivotal try against the Wallabies in the dying minutes of the world cup 1/4 finals (we all know how that ended). Then to top it all off, Bennett received a nomination for ‘Breakthrough Player of the Year’.
6. Dan Biggar – Wales, Fly-Half: One of the superstars of the 2015 RWC. The dismantler of the English chariot and the choreographer of the appropriately named ‘Biggarena’. He has truly nailed on the 10 shirt for Wales. He has improved his all-round game to a world-class standard and has become a leader amongst an experienced Welsh side.
After last years climactic final weekend, expectations will be high with all nations looking to take the title and be crowned as 2016 RBS Six Nations Champions.
Ireland will be going for a record 3rd successive title. The Scots will be hoping they can transfer their RWC form into 2016. Their Celtic cousins, Wales, will also be looking to pick up where they left off after a narrow defeat to the Springboks in last years 1/4 finals. France, you’re never sure which French side is going show up, but you’d be a fool to underestimate them. Italy, valiant to the bitter end and another side that should never be taken lightly (unless they pick Bergamasco at scrum-half again). And England, now under the Eddie Jones regime. A lot will be expected of the red rose after a disappointing RWC and numbers 1 – 15 will all feel they have a point to prove.
Our prediction for this years Six Nations champions goes to…Scotland! Yes, that’s right, you did read that correctly, Scotland. Crack out the Irn-Bru and dust off your kilts, it’s an outside bet, but we believe that Vern Cotter’s men will come of age this year.