The first week of the season is bit too early to call international contenders. However, young hooker Jamie George played a huge part in Saracens’ opening day demolition of London Irish. The 22 year old ran in two tries in the opening stages, the second being the pick of the bunch as he took Farrell’s inside pass off the back of a mall, side-stepped his man and crossed the line to finish. Both tries demonstrated power and guile, and certainly made the hooker a worthy man of the match.
The Northampton centre was on the fringes of the England tour to Argentina over the summer. With more performances like this though he may well find himself in contention come the Autumn Internationals. Two glorious passes sent Northampton away on a first half frenzy as they opened up an unassailable lead over Exeter. The first of the centre’s assists came from a wonderful miss pass to cut out the Chiefs defence send over Dylan Hartley. The second came following an incisive line break before drawing the man and releasing his team mate. This was an exciting performance from the powerful number 12 which may well have turned some heads.
Wasps against Harlequins never fails to disappoint as the game was decided by the width of a post from Andy Goode’s missed conversion. Although he will be feeling aggrieved that his side did not take maximum points from his try in the dying minutes, Tom Palmer can take some pride from a defensive performance which saw him make 10 tackles. At 34, time may be drawing to a close on the lock’s international career but more performances such as this could give him the chance for one last roll of the dice. The likes of Palmer will be vital this season to provide an example for the work-rate required as Wasps continue to rebuild.
Sometimes being compared to a legend of the game means attracting unwanted attention, high volumes of pressure and a large target on your back. That is exactly what has happened to 19 year-old Jordan Williams who has recently been compared to All-Black great Christian Cullen by another All-Black legend, Sean Fitzpatrick.
Cullen will easily go down in history as one of the true masters of the game. His rugby genius is unquestioned, he possessed devastating running ability, Ferrari like acceleration and hawk-like vision to spot the gaps us mere mortals are just never going to see. Williams has a very, very long way to go to reach these lofty expectations but his recent performances in the Junior World Championships and brief substitute appearance in the Scarlets opening round Pro12 match against Leinster point to his potential.
Patchell announced himself to the rugby world with some eye-catching performances for the Blues as a 19 year-old last year. His impressive debut season was rewarded with a late replacement call-up to the Welsh senior squad who toured Japan in the summer. Patchell put in some notable displays while away, doing his chances of leading the line for Wales in the up-coming autumn internationals no harm. Patchell will be battling seasoned veteran James Hook, Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland for the No.10 jersey with most suggesting that Patchell just needs to keep Cardiff competitive to solidify his place in November’s matches.
His excellent performance against Glasgow in a wet opening round fixture at Scotstoun Stadium proved his credentials as one of Wales’ brightest talents. Scoring four penalties and one drop goal were not enough to propel the Blues to victory against the Scots but they do showcase exactly what this young man is capable of and what Welsh rugby fans can look forward to.
Compiled by Jono Frank and Alex Mcleman
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images