RaboDirect Pro12: Five Young Players to Watch

31 Aug

The World Cup in New Zealand may be grabbing the headlines, but there will be plenty of rugby to watch on these shores over the coming months. So with the RaboDirect Pro 12 (formerly the Magners League) kicking off on Friday, The XV has decided to cast its eyes over five young players hoping to make an impression when the regions’ international players are away.

1. Macauley Cook (Lock, Blues)

Macauley Cook. Photo: Huw Evans

Will become Cardiff RFC’s youngest ever captain this season at just 19 years old. The imposing lock is used to the extra responsibility, however, as he skippered Wales Under-20s during this year’s Six Nations. A forceful runner and tackler with an excellent work rate and obvious leadership qualities, a real prospect.

2. Hanno Dirksen (Winger, Ospreys)

Qualifies for South Africa and the USA, but will be eligible to play for Wales in 12 months. Caught the eye with two well-taken tries in the recent friendly win against Russia, and his desire to play for Wales could soon see him in Warren Gatland’s plans. Powerful, pacey and a natural finisher, should get plenty of game time at the Ospreys this season.

3. Rhodri Williams (Scrum-half, Scarlets)

Rhodri Williams. Photo: Huw Evans

The latest off the Llanelli conveyor belt of scrum-halves, Williams is building himself a fine reputation with both his club Llandovery and his region. Quick, sharp and a crisp passer of the ball, Williams has represented Wales Under-18s and could find more opportunities to impress at Parc y Scarlets this season with Tavis Knoyle at the World Cup and Martin Roberts leaving for Northampton.

4. Harry Robinson (Winger, Blues)

Harry Robinson. Photo: Huw Evans

Still just 18, this explosive winger has caused a stir in his young career to date. Whether it has been in a starting role for the Wales Under-20s or from the bench with the Blues, the diminutive figure has left many players in his wake with his jinking, elusive running style. Should relish his chance to shine with Leigh Halfpenny at the World Cup.

5. Ashley Beck (Centre, Ospreys)

The Ospreys' Ashley Beck takes on Aironi. Photo: Huw Evans

His smooth handling skills complement the more rugged likes of Andrew Bishop in the Ospreys’ midfield, and such deftness could soon feature on an international stage. Has a keen an eye for the try line, and a peripheral vision which brings others into the game. At 21 years old, the rangy centre appears to be realising some of his considerable potential.

4 Responses to “RaboDirect Pro12: Five Young Players to Watch”

  1. GC August 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Steffan Jones should be included too. Strong runner who scored a lovely try against Cardiff B last season. Can also play fly half and is a reliable kicker. Like Faletau, he was picked up from Filton College in Brizzle, which shows that the Drags need to work harder on developing facilities for young players to thrive.

  2. GC August 31, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Also Rhodri Jones the Scarlets prop impressed for the U20s. Could be a big season for him with Iestyn Thomas approaching the end of his career.

    • Daf Pritchard August 31, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      Interesting additions to the list. Thanks. The Scarlets could certainly do with some more steel in the pack. And it’s well-documented how much the Blues are yearning for a new fly-half. Not to put pressure on young Steffan Jones, of course…

  3. Rhodri September 1, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Erm…what about Matthew Morgan?

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