5 backs who will set the Rugby World Cup alight

You’ve met the world’s best forwards, now put your shades on to meet the flash fellas.

YESTERDAY, WE BROUGHT you the ugly mugs who will decide who wins what at the World Cup next month. Here are the guys who’ll determine by how much (and make it enjoyable for the rest of us who don’t call the bottom of a ruck home).

Aaron Smith

With all due respect to Conor Murray and Ruan Pienaar, New Zealand’s diminutive distributor is the world’s best scrum-half at present.

Aaron Smith (we’ll get into the habit of calling him by his full name due to the three non-related Smiths likely to start in a black jersey) provides his back-line with service on a silver platter and gives his forwards plenty of respite with a clever and varied kicking game. But it’s his explosive pace that makes him a cut above other nines. That awesome acceleration ensures defensive pillars don’t get a moment’s piece..

George North

Arguably the most powerful winger in international rugby, George North is a threat every team has to come up with a specialised plan for.

Rugby Union - 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour - Second Test - Australia v British and Irish Lions - Etihad Stadium PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In 2011, he was just a 19-year-old setting a new record as youngest try-scorer at the World Cup. This year, after a troublesome six months, he is in his prime and itching to unleash his power, speed and athleticism on the rugby field.

Unfortunately, the concussion problems he has endured this season are still not fully behind North. The Northampton wing has yet to formally complete his return to play protocols and has been ruled out of Wales’ opening warm-up Test with Ireland. That said, the coaching staff have expressed hope that he will be fit for the return meeting in Dublin at the end of the month.

Willie Le Roux

While Bryan Habana remains a major factor in South Africa’s wide channels, his try-scoring threat and eye for an intercept are of lesser importance than Le Roux (who set up this try for the Toulon man against Wales in 2014).

Le Roux Kick

Le Roux is a different threat to the other back three stars on this list. He can count on his acceleration and pace to help him make breaks, sure. On top of his physical prowess, the 25-year-old’s brain and skill-set make him a thrilling player to watch in full flight.

Whether calmly executing difficult actions under severe pressure, stepping in to act as playmaker to relieve the out-half or showing off his deft touches with the boot at full pelt, Le Roux’s eye for space (or, just as good, flat-footed defenders) make him the perfect gamebreaker to compliment the Springboks’ battering rams up front.

George Ford

It may have come by accident, or maybe just sooner than they expected, but England found the spark to add to all that weaponry they have lying around when Owen Farrell missed the Six Nations through injury.

Farrell is a better distributor than most give him credit for, but in Ford England now have a truly exceptional playmaker capable of strike-running and finishing as well as delivering inviting passes for more powerful carriers.

Irish Flukey / YouTube

Israel Folau

Though he appears meek enough in the above still where he’s being carried along by George North, Australia’s fantastic fullback is anything but with the ball in hand.

Argentina Australia Rugby Championship AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Perhaps the most gifted all-round athlete in the entire  game, the 6′ 5″ 103 kg Folau is a threat from anywhere on the field. His background in Aussie Rules is testament to his abilities in the air and his distribution after breaking through gaps is a try-scoring recipe that the Wallabies hope to taste again and again and again this autumn.

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