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7 newcomers to watch out for in the 2016 Six Nations

Ulster and Ireland’s Stuart McCloskey, plus other young players to keep an eye on.

Updated at 11.46

1. Virimi Vakatawa (France)

France Rugby Six Nations Source: Christophe Ena

THE FIJIAN-BORN 23-year-old, who can play wing or centre, was previously a star of the French sevens team. The player was named in France’s Six Nations squad by Guy Noves, despite his last appearance in XVs rugby coming in December 2013 for former club Racing 92, so it will be interesting to see whether the coach’s big gamble pays off.

2. Stuart McCloskey (Ireland)

Saracens v Ulster Rugby - European Champions Cup - Pool One - Allianz Park Source: Paul Harding

The 23-year-old has impressed since making his debut for Ulster in 2014, and his performances have left many suggesting he is worthy of a starting spot in Joe Schmidt’s side in the coming weeks. Given that he’s 6 foot 4 inches in height and weighs almost 17 stone, coping with the physicality of international rugby certainly won’t be a problem for the youngster.

3. Maro Itoje (England)

Maro Itoje file photo Source: Paul Harding

England’s Man of the Tournament at the 2014 U20 Six Nations, the 21-year-old who can play lock or flanker has been a promising prospect for some time, having represented his country at various underage levels, and may well get the nod to make his senior debut in the coming weeks. Outside of rugby, he is undertaking a degree in politics and is a big poetry fan.

4. Jonathan Danty (France)

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Jonathan Danty Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 23-year-old centre has been a revelation at times for Stade Français in the Top 14 and so naturally, big things are expected from Danty, who could thrive in the absence of the similarly physically imposing Mathieu Bastareaud.

5. Hallam Amos (Wales)

Britain Rugby WCup Wales Uruguay Source: Alastair Grant

The 21-year-old winger/fullback already has five caps for Wales, but is still relatively inexperienced at international level. The Newport Gwent Dragons starlet even featured for Warren Gatland’s side at the World Cup, but his tournament ended prematurely, as he was taken off injured against England.

6. CJ Stander (Ireland)

CJ Stander Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 25-year-old South Africa-born back-row has been a bright spark for Munster this season and is consequently in strong contention to make his Ireland debut sooner rather than later.

7. Sam Hidalgo Clyne (Scotland)

Rugby Union - 2015 RBS Six Nations - Scotland v Italy - Murrayfield Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The 22-year-old scrum-half, who was born in Spain, has already earned eight caps for Scotland and was on the fringes of their squad for last year’s Six Nations. The player has also been hugely impressive for Edinburgh, scoring over 200 points since his debut in 2011. As a result, Scotland’s captain and current first-choice scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will certainly be looking over his shoulders in the coming weeks.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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