Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars to watch at the World Cup
With the World Cup looming and head coaches finalising their best XVs, a raft of Gallagher Premiership Rugby talent will descend on Japan eager to impress and steer their side to glory.
No fewer than 78 Gallagher Premiership Rugby players have made their respective 31-man squads, with 12 of the 20 nations in the competition being represented by players who ply their trade in England’s top tier.
And as the countdown to kick-off intensifies, here are five names to look out for during the six-week bonanza.
Tomas Lavanini – Leicester Tigers
The new Welford Road recruit will get his first opportunity to impress Leicester Tigers fans at the World Cup, being selected in Daniel Hourcade’s squad and likely to start in the Pumas’ opening group game against France in Tokyo.
Lavanini is an experienced international customer, accumulating 53 caps since his debut in 2013 and functioning as a dependable asset in the second row.
The lock joined Tigers after a successful spell at Jaguares in Super Rugby, attracting head coach Geordan Murphy’s attention and strengthening a promising pack in the East Midlands going into the new season.
For both Leicester and the always-entertaining Pumas, Lavanini’s role may prove vital over the coming months.
Valery Morozov – Sale Sharks
The only Russian representative from Gallagher Premiership Rugby at the tournament, Sale Sharks’ Morozov travels to Japan with 17 international appearances after impressing in club rugby last season.
The prop signed from Enisei-STM earlier this year after winning the Russian Rugby Championship on three successive occasions between 2016 and 2018, with former Sharks Andrei Ostrikov and Vadim Cobilas proving influential in his decision to move to England.
And his move has since been an unequivocal success, winning the man of the match award against Leicester Tigers in his side’s emphatic 32-5 win at the AJ Bell Stadium back in March.
While the Russians may not be tipped to go far in Japan, Morozov nevertheless remains one to watch.
Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins
The Quins prop looks set to play an integral role for England in a tournament Eddie Jones’ side travel to with just two tightheads at their disposal.
Sinckler can expect to take on a considerable workload throughout the six weeks, with just him and Dan Cole operating as specialist No.3s and Joe Marler offering emergency cover.
The 26-year-old enjoyed an impressive domestic campaign last season, similarly shining when donning the Red Rose as his average gain was 4.3 metres and he won 87% of his tackles attempted throughout 2019.
With Jones’ players preparing to face Tonga, Sinckler will inevitably have a key role to play.
Adam Coleman – London Irish
Coleman is another new arrival to Gallagher Premiership Rugby after a busy summer of transfers, joining London Irish after a successful spell for the Rebels in Super Rugby.
The second row is an intimidating customer at over two metres tall, developing a reputation as the enforcer in Michael Cheika’s powerful pack.
Indeed, Coleman won an impressive 96% of his tackles for the Wallabies in 2019, forming a formidable second-row axis with the experienced Rob Simmons most recently in their 34-15 win over Samoa.
And with Australia set to face Wales in one of the World Cup’s most tantalising battles during the pool stages, Coleman will be looking to further his pedigree and build on his three international tries to date.
Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby
Watson has developed into one of England’s most valuable assets over the years, scoring 16 tries in his 36 international appearances and earning a call-up to Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions side in 2017.
And the 25-year-old possesses versatility in abundance, capable of playing at full-back or on the wing and mounting a remarkable England comeback after not wearing the Red Rose for a year with an Achilles injury.
A potent ball carrier with the ability to penetrate defences with searing breaks, Watson has been a pivotal player for England in the build-up to the tournament as he gained no fewer than 323 metres for Jones’ side in 2018.
With England surely targeting at least the semi-finals, Watson will need to harness all his offensive attributes if they are to repeat their 2003 success.
The full list of the 78 Premiership players heading to Japan
Samoa: Motu Matu’u (London Irish), James Lay (Bristol Bears), Jordan Lay (Bristol Bears), Chris Vui (Bristol Bears), Ed Fidow (Worcester Warriors), Alapati Leiua (Bristol Bears), Ahsee Tuala (Northampton Saints), TJ Ioane (London Irish)
Scotland: Allan Dell (London Irish), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Duncan Taylor (Saracens)
Russia: Valery Morozov (Sale Sharks)
Italy: Jake Polledri (Gloucester Rugby), Callum Braley (Gloucester Rugby), Michele Campagnaro (Harlequins), Matteo Minozzi (Wasps)
South Africa: Vincent Koch (Saracens), Franco Mostert (Gloucester Rugby), Francois Louw (Bath Rugby), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints), Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks)
Argentina: Juan Figallo (Saracens), Tomas Lavanini (Leicester Tigers),
England: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Saracens), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Mark Wilson (Sale Sharks), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Tonga: Steve Mafi (London Irish), Sione Kalamafoni (Leicester Tigers), Siale Piutau (Bristol Bears), Telusa Veainu (Leicester Tigers)
USA: Joe Taufete’e (Worcester Warriors), Titi Lamositele (Saracens), AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks), Bryce Campbell (London Irish), Paul Lasike (Harlequins)
Australia: Nic White (Exeter Chiefs), Adam Coleman (London Irish), Sekope Kepu (London Irish)
Fiji: Tevita Cavubati (Harlequins), Api Ratuniyarawa (Northampton Saints), Semi Kunatani (Harlequins), Aliverti Veitokani (London Irish), Vereniki Goneva (Harlequins)
Wales: Rhys Carre (Saracens), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Saracens)