Preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England have already begun in earnest for most teams entered into the tournament, and the respective tournaments leading up to rugby’s showpiece event provides a great measure for the teams to judge where they currently are.
These tournaments also provide valuable time to blood new talent and see how they perform at the highest level. As with every World Cup there will be the current stalwarts of each nation on display but there will also be a chance for a youngster or newbie to grab the headlines.
Here we look at the three such talents and their possible impact on their nation’s chance at glory.
Fijian born winger Henry Speight is one of the emerging talents in Super rugby of late. Not a household name as of yet, the flying winger could be set to change all that. At 26 he’s not exactly a youngster but has plenty of time ahead of him to show why his performances at the Brumbies have caught the eye on more than one occasion.
His Australian residency has only now come through in September this year, so that gives him one year to prove he is what the wallabies are looking for ready for their World Cup squad in 12 months’ time.
Powerful runner Speight is looking to fill the void left by one of Australia’s most popular players, the honey badger, Nick Cummins, who, for personal reasons has opted to ply his trade in Japanese rugby, ruling him out of contention for the national jersey.
Wales have the possibility of calling upon New Zealand trained fly half Gareth Anscombe for their World Cup squad. Eligible for Wales through his mother, Anscombe has just signed for local team Cardiff Blues, from Super rugby team Waikato Chiefs.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has already highlighted the talented number 10 as future international star, and with the World cup only a year away the clock is ticking to see how he fits in to the national set up. Gatland has earmarked Anscombe as a player to sign on a central contract should peace ever be agreed in the on-running saga of Welsh rugby and its funding. It currently seems a long way off but Wales will no doubt be keen to have a player of the calibre of Anscombe in the squad and all the Super rugby experience that he brings
One of Rugby League’s famous sporting families, the Burgess family, has produced 4 top level players. Now it seems that one of the brothers, Sam Burgess is switching the sun of Sydney and the Rabbitohs for the sightseeing of Bath as he arrives in England, and Rugby Union, from October.
Being a forward in League he is looking to follow in the footsteps of a previous League-Union convert, Joel Tomkins, and become a centre. Tomkins has suggested that Burgess, with his solid defence, and tackle-busting runs could be just what England need in the number 12 jersey. Tomkins has a successful time in both League and Union, capped by England in both codes, and is uniquely placed to judge Burgess’ burgeoning ability. Either way, it seems that Burgess could be in line for a call up to England squad, should he pick up the sport in sufficient time.