Rugby World Cup Star Players

BEAUDEN BARRETT Picture: Phil Walter/Getty Images


Fullback - Beauden Barrett (New Zealand). A two-time world player of the year but they were both at five-eighth. Transferring his skills to the open space could have enormous upside.

Wing - Liam Williams (Wales). Fast and aerially dominant, he's the prototype modern winger but can do it all just as well from fullback.

Midfield - Samu Kerevi (Australia). A stunning combination of power and panache all year. Can expect to be closely marked.

Five-eighth - Johnny Sexton (Ireland). Officially the best player on the planet last year could have a tournament to savour if his pack front up and he synchronises with halfback Conor Murray.

Halfback - Faf de Klerk (South Africa). The Springboks are a vastly better team with the English-based No.9 running the show through pinpoint kicking and slick option taking.

Back row - Ardie Savea (New Zealand). The Kiwis usually have an enforcer at No.6 but are set to unleash the Hurricanes dynamo, whose motor never runs on empty.

Lock - Maro Itoje (England). Relentlessly good for club and country, he was a genuine force for the British and Irish Lions two years ago in New Zealand.

Prop - Mako Vunipola (England). Little wonder Saracans rule Europe given they have the powerhouse prop and Itoje in their engine room. Rarely bettered.

Hooker - Malcolm Marx (South Africa). A spearhead in a gargantuan pack, the muscular hooker turns over possession with the regularity of the best back-rowers.