British & Irish Lions 2021

6 to watch at Six Nations 2020

2020-01-30 09:57
Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell (Getty Images)

Paris - The 2020 Six Nations kicks off on Saturday with many established Rugby World Cup-hardened players joined by up-and-coming tyros.

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A look at six players to watch:

Owen Farrell (England)

- England's totem has been with crisis-club Saracens since 2008, making his debut alongside his father Andy, now Ireland coach. The 28-year-old skipper, who has racked up 875 points in 79 internationals for England, but is also known for his uncompromising defence and passing ability. Farrell will have to push all thoughts about relegation with Saracens to the back of his mind if he is to be, again, the lynchpin of Eddie Jones' England side.

Antoine Dupont (France)

- Newly-appointed France coach Fabien Galthie has given Les Bleus a shake-up, bringing in a staggering 20 uncapped players into his Six Nations squad. Galthie, himself a former France scrumhalf, knows the importance of the role a nine brings to the game, notably in France where they are seen as more pivotal than the flyhalf. And it shall be Dupont, 23, to bear the expectations of not only a no-nonsense Galthie but also a fickle fanbase looking for improvement after the team's World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Wales.

Jordan Larmour (Ireland)

- Rob Kearney's Ireland career seems to be nearing its swansong, but who better to take up the full-back shirt than Larmour. The Leinster back is a free-running threat from around the park, a game-changing option that has seen off competition from in-form Ulster rival Will Addison to start against Scotland. Jonny Sexton may be pulling the strings from flyhalf, but Irish attack often starts with the back three and new coach Andy Farrell will be keen to see the 22-year-old Larmour repay the faith entrusted in him.

Luca Bigi (Italy)

- Bigi, 28, has perhaps some of the biggest shoes to fill in the Six Nations, taking over the Italy captaincy from Sergio Parisse, who will be granted a farewell cameo in the Azzurri's final game of the tournament, in Rome, against England. Interim head coach Franco Smith has plumped for combative Treviso hooker Bigi to take up the captain's armband. Not only will he have to first nail down his set-piece accuracy to hand Italy a foot in the game, but also put his best foot forward to lead a team that has finished last in 14 of the 20 editions of the Six Nations.

Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

- Hogg finds himself thrust into the role of captain with Scotland seemingly in full meltdown. After losing seasoned veterans such as Greg Laidlaw and John Barclay and opting not to reinstall World Cup skipper Stuart McInally, coach Gregor Townsend appointed fullback Hogg as skipper. But disaster then hit the Scottish camp as star flyhalf Finn Russell left the team's training week in the wake of an alleged late-night drinking session. It could not have come at a worse time, with the Scots having completely misfired at the World Cup in Japan and desperate to shake off the shackles in a bid to improve on their recent Six Nations showings. The 27-year-old Hogg, enjoying a great season at Exeter, will be key to their success.

Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)

- The Kiwi-born centre has become a rock for Wales, his superb try-saving tackle on Ireland's Jacob Stockdale last season ultimately paving the way for the Grand Slam. Taking over from Jamie Roberts, Parkes has proved to be a great foil to Jonathan Davies in midfield. Davies, however, is injured, his likely replacement being winger George North. The 32-year-old Parkes will once again need to be the cement in the mix in defence and provide an attacking option on front-foot ball.

Read more on:    six nations  |  rugby

 

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