Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pool B: Preview

Two time champions South Africa will enter as the pool favourites despite a poor showing at the Rugby Championship.  Samoa aren't to be underestimated though -  they pushed the All Blacks close two months - and could push the Springboks and Scotland very hard for a top two spot.
Scotland haven't been playing to their full potential and not everyone agrees with Vern Cotter's selection. However, they finished off in a good fashion with a narrow, gutsy defeat to France.
Also, in the pool, Japan are no longer the whipping boys they once were. "The Brave Blossoms" continually improve and will target at least two wins in the pool. Whilst the USA Eagles have plenty of stars in their squad but lack experience in some key areas.

South Africa
Coach:                  Heyneke Meyer
Captain:                Jean de Villiers 
Most Valuable Player:   Number 8 Duane Vermeulen was a contender for player of the year and hits like truck. However, Eben Eztebeth is a second row in the same mould as Bakkies Botha and the Springboks have the ability to devastate teams with their set piece.
Most Exciting: Willie Le Roux is amongst the new breed of exciting fullbacks with an eye for the try line, but Jesse Kriel has impressed in a limited appearances for South Africa. If he plays, he could be the star of the tournament.
Coach:                  Vern Cotter
Captain:                Greg Laidlaw
Most Valuable Player: Richie's little brother Jonny Gray has burst onto the international scenes with some very impressive performances; not only running the line out, but running his heart out on the field.
Most Exciting: Finn Russell can create from 10 and Stuart Hogg sometimes from nowhere. However, it is centre Mark Bennett that has given the Scottish attack a potency it lacked for too long.
Coach:                  Stephen Betham
Captain:                Ofisa Treviranus
Most Valuable Player: Northampton's former Osprey Kahn Fotuali’i does a good job of marshalling his team and is a enough danger to defences to keep opposition flankers on their toes. 
Most Exciting: incredible pace and hands softer than mild, green Fairy Liquid could ever take credit for, Northampton fans will already know what to expect from Ken Pisi.
Coach:                  Eddie Jones
Captain:                Michael Leitch
Most Valuable Player: Captain Michael Leitch was Japan's best player last time out and is likely to be again. He played 13 matches for the Chiefs last season and was voted Rookie of the Year by his peers... High praise indeed.
Most Exciting: His collision with Elliott Dixon and his line busting run to set up a try against Georgia has already made Amanaki Lelei Mafi an internet icon. He is now fully fit after injury, so opposition defence beware.
Coach:                  Mike Tolkin
Captain:                Chris Wyles
Most Valuable Player: Big, strong, aggressive and surprisingly quick, Samu Manoa's ball carrying will be invaluable to USA's campaign. And, though he may be American, this isn't NFL and attack and defence are expected from all. Luckily, Manoa's tackles are bone crunching.
Most Exciting: A man who already wrote himself into World Cup folklore when he stood up and Bryan Habana to score an incredible try in 2007, Takudzwa "Zee" Ngwenya will meet the Springboks' flyer again this time around.

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