Autumn Internationals: 5 players to watch

Bernard Foley (Australia)
Named on the bench for the game against England, Foley is a player with a hugely bright future. Having made a name for himself on the sevens circuit, he made his Wallaby debut earlier this year. He is another attack-minded Australian back, comfortable at both fly-half at fullback. He had a storming 2013 Super Rugby season, one of few players to really impress in an underwhelming Waratahs side, and has a devastating sidestep, as well as the ability to throw big passes off both hands.

Marland Yarde (England)
For those unfamiliar with the Premiership, Yarde has probably been the standout winger this season. That is made all the more impressive by the fact that he is playing for one of the pre-season relegation favourites, London Irish. His try-scoring form may have dipped in the last few matches, but he is still a hugely dangerous weapon out wide. Quick and strong, he is a sublime finisher, but what sets him apart is his ability and desire in defence and at the breakdown – few wingers can match him in this regard.

Gael Fickou (France)
Clive Woodward – admittedly a man with a propensity for left-field selections – recently named Fickou in his second string ‘World’s best backline’. If that might be a bit strong – Fickou has just one cap to his name – there is no doubt that he is a player with the potential to dominate the world game in the future. Quick, strong and able to kick, there is very little he cannot do. France and Toulouse seem to be managing him sensibly, with his exposure limited thus far, and expect this autumn to see him again feature from the bench.

Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
There are several exciting youngsters amongst the New Zealand ranks, but Retallick is the one looking increasingly likely to dominate his position in the All Black squad for years to come. Standing at over 6’8″ and weighing in at over 120 kg, Retallick is a man mountain. Like all All Black forwards, however, he is also very mobile and has a good pair of hands on him. Somehow, with only two seasons of Super Rugby behind him, he already has 21 caps. A testament to New Zealand’s strategy of backing their young players from an early age.

Pablo Matera (Argentina)
Leicester’s latest recruit has, according to Richard Cockerill (a man who knows a thing or two about forward play), got the potential to one day become one of the best back row players in the world. Under the tutelage of national captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Matera is moulding himself into a similarly combative and tenacious player. Comfortable on either flank, the young Argentine is both quick and strong, as well as making a habit of being a nuisance at the breakdown. Could be the autumn he announces himself to the Northern Hemisphere, just has he has done recently with the Southern.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

7 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals: 5 players to watch

  1. Must say, I’m excited to see Yarde in an England shirt against quality opposition to see what he can do. He’s got a great looking all round game on the wing so I’d like to see him do well for England.

  2. “France and Toulouse seem to be managing him sensibly, with his exposure limited thus far”

    “A testament to New Zealand’s strategy of backing their young players from an early age”

    Which works best? Discuss.

    1. Different hemispheres – different philosophies! In NZ if a player can’t handle it, they just move on without him and pick someone else. In England we spend ages agonising over the decision and worrying about where we let the player down and whether we should give him another chance. Slight generalisation I know, but the nz way seems to work. Might also be something to do with them playing in weight divisions not age when younger (i believe) so he might have had to play up ages I assume and mature quicker.

  3. I think you should watch out for 19 year old full back (can play on the wing) Santiago Cordero. He’s in the 27 man squad for Argentina against England next week. Very nifty speedster with an excellent step. Has done well in the last two Junior World Championships for Argentina.

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