Rugby League World Cup 2013 – Players to Watch
With the Rugby League World Cup fast approaching, Label Sport takes a look at some of the most exciting and important players to keep an eye on during the tournament.
Sam Burgess – England
Sam Burgess has grown into one of the stars of the rugby league world. Since moving to Australia to play for the Rabbitohs in 2010 he has taken the NRL (National Rugby League) by storm. His all-action displays have drawn praise from all quarters and he has been described as the best English export to the NRL in 20 years. His hard running and tackling will be crucial if England are to make a real impact on the business end of the tournament.
Jonathon Thurston – Australia
The 2013 World Cup is Australia’s first without legendary halfback and captain, Darren Lockyer. The man Australia will turn to to fill his boots will be Jonathon Thurston. He will be the man that most of the Kangaroos’ creativity and attacking menace will come from. He has shown the ability at club level to lead a side’s attack and will now need to translate this ability to the international stage. Already very experienced at this level, his eye for a pass and brilliant goal-kicking ability will be something that Australia will need to utilise to hit their target of winning the tournament.
Sonny Bill Williams – New Zealand
Widely regarded as one of the best exponents of rugby in either code, Sonny Bill Williams has already caused a stir before the tournament has even begun. Having originally made himself unavailable for selection, he changed his mind only hours after New Zealand announced their squad, and was subsequently added to the group at the expense of 21-year-old Tohu Harris.
Williams, a second row, is the ultimate player – strong in defence, with the ability to make game changing runs and offloads. He is such a talismanic figure that just having him on the pitch will cause panic for the opposition. If New Zealand want to defend their crown, Sonny Bill could be the difference that makes it happen.
Danny Brough – Scotland
Having chosen to represent Scotland over England in early 2013, he has gone on to have the season of his life. He led Huddersfield to a first League Leader’s Shield in 81 years and was also named ‘Man of Steel’ – the award for the best player in the Super League. His ability to drag his side forward with incisive runs and passes has been second to none this season; and his kicking has been consistently impeccable throughout. Undoubtedly Scotland’s best player, he will need to fire if they are to perform at the World Cup.
Akuila Uate – Fiji
Having previously represented Australia at international level, flying winger Uate has switched allegiance back to the country of his birth – Fiji. The fact that Uate has been named NRL winger of the year three times at only 26 years old is an indicator of his class. His blistering pace, eye for a gap and finishing ability will be crucial to Fiji’s hopes.
Thomas Bosc – France
Bosc is one of the stars of French rugby league. Known for his kicking ability, vision and incredible work rate he has been one of the Catalan Dragons’ most important players over recent years. Bosc represented France in 2008, so he will know all about the expectations and pressures that come with representing your county at the World Cup. With a career kicking success rate of over 80%, he will have French hopes pinned on him to drag them through tight games, when every point can make a difference.
So there you have it – six players to watch during the tournament. Undoubtedly, many more will shine and show moments of brilliance that will light up the 2013 World Cup. What we can be sure of, however, is that this edition of the World Cup promises to be one of the best and most hard fought ever.