Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pool A: Preview

The Group of Death has never been more fitting than with Pool A. Three out of the World's Top 5 teams appear alongside Fiji who are ranked 9th. 

It's a lottery as to which two of the big three will qualify. A top two finish is probably beyond Fiji, but taking a scalp certainly isn't. Uruguay, meanwhile, will do well be fortunate to pick up a single point.
Australia, England and Wales have the ability to lift the title on October 31st... Or to crash out at the pool stages.

Coach:                  Stuart Lancaster
Captain:                Chris Robshaw
Most Valuable Player: Without Dylan Hartley England's set piece has struggled. However, the return of Geoff Parling has at least restored their lineout prowess. Add his incredible work rate and guile and Parling will be a vital cog in the boiler house.
Most Exciting: Whilst Johnny May and Mike Brown are electrifying runners, George Ford has all the ability and flair to make England play exciting attack rugby.
Coach:                  Michael Cheika
Captain:                Michael Hooper
Most Valuable Player: The Australian's are blessed in the openside department with two of the world's best. Captain Michael Hooper has been favoured, but recently David Pocock has returned to the team alongside him and has again proven his class as a player and person.
Most Exciting: One of the best strike runners in the competition, Israel Folau will punish any loose kicks or sloppy defences. His past in Aussie rules football has given him the edge under the high ball and he has international caps in rugby league.
Coach:                  Warren Gatland
Captain:                Sam Warburton
Most Valuable Player:  In Pool A the battle at the breakdown and the set pieces will be vital. In Alun Wyn Jones, Wales have a master of both. A strong line out jumper, a battler at the ruck and a leader of men; Jones will be vital.
Most Exciting: Whilst some of the nation fell into mourning with the injury of Leigh Halfpenny, the rest remembered that Liam Williams was waiting in the wings. A counter attacker of the highest order, Williams will be chomping at the bit to test himself against the likes of Brown and Folau.
Coach:                  John McKee
Captain:                Akapusi Qera
Most Valuable Player: It's easy to say Nemani Nadolo is a player to keep your eye on, but at 6'5" and 19 stone 12, he is pretty difficult to miss on the wing. Don't let his size deceive you though, this lad can shift. He has 15 tries to his names in just 20 caps. Oh, and he's not adverse to place kicking either.
Most Exciting: A scrum half with pace to burn and energy by the buckets, Nikola Matawalu has terrified Pro 12 defences scoring 9 tries in his first season at Glasgow. He'll be at Bath on his return from World Cup duty.
Coach:                  Pablo Lemoine
Captain:                Santiago Vilaseca
Most Valuable Player: Uruguay's powerful pack have created plenty of penalties and fly half Felipe Berchesi is adept at dispatching them. His kicking is a huge part of why they have qualified.
Most Exciting: Agustin Ormaechea is a scrum half with the ability to snipe around the fringes and an eye for the try line. He is also the son of Diego Ormaechea, Uruguay's greatest player and the oldest man to feature at the World Cup.

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