Six players to watch this Six Nations

With Wales and Italy kicking off the Six Nations this afternoon, here is a look at the six players from each nation to look out for in the upcoming tournament.

Wales – Louis Rees-Zammit

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With only a handful of first team Gloucester appearances to his name, Louis Rees-Zammit has lit up the rugby pitch this season. Does ‘Rees-Lightening’ ring any bells? The 18 year old will turn 19 just days before the second tournament fixture and is expected to make an appearance within the competition. Rees-Zammit has scored half a century of points for Gloucester and has scored at least one try on every first team starting appearance via one – an impressive statistic for any player.

His fast pace and ability to accelerate quickly with ball in hand is a skill that Wales will look to feature for their games, helping them open up their attacking rugby. Although Rees-Zammit isn’t expected to start in many games, nor feature too heavily when selected, he could be the vital player that Wales will need to inject some pace into their fixtures.

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France – Demba Bamba

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Another young player set to feature heavily this Six Nations, is Demba Bamba. The 21 year old prop missed out on the majority of France’s World Cup games due to sustaining a thigh injury and will be wanting to make a good impression during the upcoming tournament.

Bamba was one of the three players promoted into the senior squad from their 2018 U20 world champion side for the 2019 World Cup period. The powerful tighthead prop’s ability to make valuable meters with ball in hand is one of the reasons he has been on the French national sides radar for many seasons. He is a player that could have a long international career ahead of him and make a serious impact into the way that France play.

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Italy – Jake Polledri

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Now a fully fledged international, Polledri has made a huge impact on the international stage for Italy. The young Italian, who plays for Gloucester is marketed as one of the best ball carriers in the Northern Hemisphere. Stepping through the defence and powering through gaps is something that comes natural to Polledri’s game and will be an asset to Italy during the Six Nations.

The flanker broke records during the 2019 World Cup, beating 14 defenders against Canada in their pool fixture. This is the highest number of defenders beaten in a single game since the tournament began in 1987. Expect to see big things from the developing flanker this Six Nations.

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Scotland – Huw Jones

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The 26 year old centre was extremely unlucky to be omitted from the Scotland World Cup squad last year. Jones has been influential in Scotland’s staggered success in recent years, in his first two international seasons, he scored ten tries in just a season and a half including featuring heavily in the Scots Calcutta Cup victory in 2018.

Now having more game time with Glasgow, the centre is set to have an impressive tournament this spring. With 23 caps to his name and 50 points scored for his country he is an extremely talented centre who has the ability to cover the back three, which could become very beneficial to Scotland if injuries occur.

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England – Will Stuart

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The Bath prop has had an extremely good first season with Bath after moving from Wasps last season. Having worked his way up the academy ladder, Stuart has made an impressive impact on the Gallagher Premiership since he made his senior contract a few seasons ago.

The tight-head is a hugely talented prospect for both club and country. His strong ball carrying skills and ability to break down the first line of defence is something that England will surely look to capitalise on for not only this tournament but for many to come. He could definitely be a valuable asset to England’s long term plans.

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Ireland – Billy Burns

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One might recognise Burns to be more situated to England given the amount of time he spent in the Gallagher Premiership before flying over to Ulster in 2018. The Englishman qualifies to represent Ireland through a paternal grandparent. He is one of eight uncapped players called up into the camp by new head coach, Andy Farrell.

Burns could offer a new dimension to Ireland’s playing game through his creative in play decisions and ability to carry the ball to the defenders and take the occasional risk in the hope it pays off. His quick thinking and clever playing has already benefited Ulster and could give Ireland the edge they need in the tournament following a disappointing World Cup campaign.

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