Rugby World Cup 2011 - Ones To Watch Part 1: Northern Hemisphere


Ovidiu Tonita plies his trade in France with Perpignan. Tonita previously played lock for Romania, however now he plays at No.8 or Flanker. With the Romanian pack being a huge facet of the way they play Tonita could well be the driving force behind them that they need in order to stun a few teams. His work at the breakdown and line out will be vital if Romania are to take anything from this tournament.

Alexander Yanyushkin is a key component in both 7's and 15's for Russia. As Russias Fly-Half he is at the centre of all they do. With slick hands and the ability to find the try line, you can fully expect to see a little bit of magic from him in the pool stage which may surprise a few sides. Fun Fact: He was nominated for IRPA Try of the year in 2009 for his try against Uruguay.

Ilia Zedginidze is the inspirational captain of Georgia sadly he had to leave the 2007 tournament early due to injury. Zedginidze will be imperative to Georgia's chances of a good tournament if he can stay clear of injury. As a lineout specialist Georgia will be looking to work the set piece well and gain plenty of territory from a well functioning line out.

Ben Youngs has been one of the most impressive additions to the England side in the past year. If he can provide the quick ball and slick passing we have come to expect from him then he will prove extremely dangerous to opposing teams. Youngs has an eye for the try line and can see a break one there is one to be taken. If he can avoid too much box kicking then fully expect to see him in the tournament best 15.

Fabio Semenzato was one of Italy's brightest looking players at this years 6 nations tournament. He may only have 4 caps to his name but he is dynamic, strong and quick. With the ever impressive Italian scrum working the hard yards in front of him you can count on him having a large bearing on his teams performances.

Alexis Palisson can play at Full Back or on the Wing. However I would expect him to feature more on the wing for France in the World Cup. At 5ft9 he isn't exactly regarded as a big winger but what he lacks in size he makes up for in pace and a great step. Also in defence he times the tackle well and is pretty solid under the high ball. Expect to see a big tournament performance from this lad.

Jonathon Sexton showed exactly why he is worth watching in the Heineken Cup final. Solid kicking game, Broke the first tackle most of the time, superb passing and great vision. Sexton will be paramount to Irelands chances. I think in years to come we will see him become the talisman for Ireland much like Brian O'Driscoll is at the moment. I firmly believe this years RWC will be the making of Sexton.

Jamie Roberts is a strong and powerful centre who habitually breaks the gain line. Formidable in defence and a great reader of the game. He scores tries and prevents them. If Roberts stays fit and hits form at the right time Wales have the potential to have a good tournament.

Richie Gray is just 21 years old but stands at a staggering 6ft10 and weighing in at over 17stone he is certainly an imposing figure on the pitch. He is a great line out option for Scotland and a strong ball carrier. Gray truly is one of the stand out players in an improving Scotland side and not just because of his height. If Scotland can work the set piece Gray will prove pivotal to their chances.