‘A box-office talent’: Six players to watch in the Six Nations

Jac Morgan and Finn Russell (Nigel French/Malcolm Mackenzie/PA)
Jac Morgan and Finn Russell (Nigel French/Malcolm Mackenzie/PA)

One of the most eagerly-awaited Six Nations will unfold over the next two months with Ireland and France frontrunners for the title.

Here are six players to watch over the 15 games.

Jac Morgan, Wales, flanker

Former Wales boss Wayne Pivac was never fully convinced by Morgan, even declining to pick him for the 2022 tour to South Africa because of his size, but a blockbusting autumn changed that. The 23-year-old is the latest talent to emerge from the Welsh back row production line and will offer high-value contributions on both sides of the ball.

Finn Russell, Scotland, fly-half

One of the game’s most creative players was initially overlooked for the autumn by Scotland boss Gregor Townsend, but to the side’s benefit he was recalled when injury struck down Adam Hastings. A genius on his day, Russell has the vision to unpick any defence and even allowing for the occasional implosion, the Scots must make him the fulcrum of their game.

Ange Capuozzo, Italy, full-back

Shot to fame during last year’s Six Nations when he made the dazzling run that led to Italy’s match-winning try against Wales, but a game earlier he scored twice off the bench against Scotland. In a game populated by giants, the 23-year-old Toulouse flyer has the instincts, footwork, dummy and speed to shred defences. A box office talent.

Ollie Hassell-Collins, England, wing

It is a time of flux for England on the wing with veterans Jonny May and Jack Nowell discarded for the Six Nations, giving hope to the likes of Hassell-Collins. Big, powerful and fast, the uncapped London Irish player has the physical presence to make an impact on opposition defences, while his willingness to go looking for the ball makes him a persistent threat.

Josh van der Flier, Ireland, back row

Even in a settled team bristling with high-quality players, Van der Flier stands out. The 29-year-old flanker started all 11 of Ireland’s Tests in 2022 and was crowned World Rugby player of the year having already won the same version of the European award. Not the biggest back row in the game but packs a punch, most noticeably as an improved carrier.

Gregory Alldritt, France, number eight

Alldritt has few chinks in the armour and could claim to be the best number eight in the game right now. The 25-year-old La Rochelle back row links beautifully with scrum-half Antoine Dupont and can shred defences with his power in the carry, smart offloads and acceleration. Also a menace at the breakdown where he regularly plunders turnovers.