Advertisement

11 young internationals who came through the U20 RWC in recent years

Remember the names of the players you see in action this month.

Iain Henderson (Ireland)

Iain Henderson Source: Cathal Noonan

One of the shining lights in the 2012 tournament, Iain Henderson made a huge impression in a young Ireland squad that also contained Tadhg Furlong, Stuart Olding, JJ Hanrahan and Kieran Marmion.

The Ulster lock cum flanker powered over for a crucial try as Mike Ruddock’s men stunned host nation South Africa with a hard-fought 23-19 during the pool stages in Stellenbosch. Henderson’s physical displays continued to earn plaudits as Ireland defeated England to finish a respectable fifth in the competition. The 24-year-old has become a key member of the Ulster and Ireland packs.

Handre Pollard (South Africa)

South AfricaÕs Handre Pollard Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Currently sidelined with ruptured knee ligaments, Handre Pollard went from U20s star to Springbok starter in the space of one season. The Blue Bulls fly-half played a starring role for the Baby Boks during their U20 Championship winning campaign in 2012 and would go on to feature in the next two tournaments.

Just eight days after playing in South Africa’s 21-20 defeat by England in the 2014 final, Pollard won his first Springbok cap against Scotland at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Pollard cemented his role in the No 10 shirt during the subsequent Rugby Championship campaign with his superb performance in the Boks’ 27-25 victory against the All Blacks in Johannesburg the high point.

The 22-year-old has won 20 caps and was South Africa’s first-choice fly-half throughout last year’s World Cup, finishing with 93 points.

Jesse Kriel (South Africa)

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - South Africa Captain's Run - Olympic Stadium Source: Adam Davy

Another Blue Bulls star, Jesse Kriel took the 2014 edition by storm. The outside centre bagged a brace of tries in the final but it was not enough as Maro Itoje’s England side clinched a tense contest in Auckland.

Kriel has broken into the Boks’ set-up over the past 12 months and has built up a solid midfield partnership with Stormers centre Damian de Allende.

Julian Savea (New Zealand)

Britain Rugby WCup Top Tries Source: AP/Press Association Images

Savea lit up the 2010 edition of the tournament as a star-studded New Zealand outfit clinched the title with a 62-17 demolition of Australia in the final. Savea was a force of nature throughout the competition and was subsequently named 2010 Young Player of the Year. The ‘Bus’ scored a hat-trick on his Test debut against Ireland in June 2012. The Hurricanes powerhouse has been terrorising opposition defences ever since.

Sam Cane (New Zealand)

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Semi Final - South Africa v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium Source: Mike Egerton

2011 was a vintage year for New Zealand at U20 level. Sam Cane was just one of several stars who helped the Baby Blacks secure a thrilling 33-22 victory against an equally precocious England side in the final. Waikato Chiefs openside Cane formed a powerful backrow with Hurricanes flanker Brad Shields and Highlanders No 8 Luke Whitelock throughout the tournament.

He was central to the Chiefs’ back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013. The 24-year-old has become a key member of the All Blacks squad and is part of their senior leadership team. Looks set to emerge from Richie McCaw’s shadow as New Zealand’s premier No 7 in the coming months.

Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

Britain Rugby WCup New Zealand Australia Source: Tim Ireland

Operated at full-back during the 2011 U20 World Championship tournament as Gareth Anscombe, who has since played Test rugby for Wales, was selected at fly-half in a backline that also included Munster centre Francis Saili, Ulster-bound full-back Charles Piutau and Highlanders star Lima Sopoaga.

The Hurricanes fly-half scored a crucial late try to seal a thrilling victory against England in the final. He would repeat the trick for the All Blacks against Australia in last October’s World Cup final. The Taranaki-born No 10 has formed a potent half-back partnership with TJ Perenara at the Hurricanes and has developed into a lethal impact sub for the All Blacks.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

Michael Hooper (Australia)

Britain Rugby WCup Argentina Australia Source: AP/Press Association Images

Before he was making a nuisance of himself at the bottom of every ruck for the Wallabies, Michael Hooper was a standout player at underage level.

Having made his Super Rugby debut with the Brumibes in 2010, Hooper led a Junior Wallabies outfit, coached by David Nucifora, to third place at the 2011 U20 World Championship and was named player of the tournament after a number of high octane displays which would become his trademark at Test level.

Maro Itoje (England)

Racing 92 v Saracens - European Champions Cup - Final - Parc Olympique Lyonnais Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Maro Itoje’s has enjoyed an exponential rise through the ranks since guiding England to the U20 Championship title in 2014. A natural born leader, the Saracens lock was instrumental as England claimed back-to-back titles with a tense 21-20 win against the Baby Boks in Auckland.

Itoje went on to captain Saracens’ second string to LV= Cup glory during the 2014 season before breaking into the starting XV this term. Has formed a powerful second row partnership with George Kruis at club and Test level and was rewarded for his stellar club form by Eddie Jones and starred in England’s Grand Slam-winning campaign.

Jack Nowell (England)

Exeter Chiefs v Worcester Warriors - Aviva Premiership - Exeter Chiefs Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Exeter Chiefs winger played a starring role in the 2013 edition of the competition as England clinched a maiden U20 world title with a 23-15 victory against Wales in the final. Nowell, who scored a crucial try in the finale, was just one of several future England stars in action with Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Clifford all graduating to Test level.

The 23-year-old helped the Chiefs to their first ever Premiership final last month – Rob Baxter’s side losing out to Saracens – and was a key member of the England outfit that claimed their first Grand Slam since 2003 earlier this season.

Mark Bennett (Scotland)

Mark Bennett Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

A hugely talented centre who is targeting a spot in the Team GB rugby sevens team for the Rio Olympics, Mark Bennett played for Scotland at three consecutive U20 World Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Bennett, who had a stint playing under Vern Cotter at Clermont in 2011, is just one of several established Test stars who cut his teeth at U20 level. The 16-times capped Glasgow Warriors midfielder played alongside Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Finn Russell during his time in the U20s set-up.

Michele Campagnaro (Italy)

Rugby Union - 2015 RBS Six Nations - Italy v Ireland - Stadio Olympico Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Having impressed for the Azzurri at the 2012 tournament, Michele Campagnaro made an immediate impact at Test level in 2014. The elusive centre scored two tries as Italy suffered a narrow Six Nations defeat at the hands of Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Campagnaro has been virtually ever-present in Italy’s backline since then and featured in all four pool stage games at last year’s World Cup, including the narrow loss to Ireland.

Capped 18 times for Italy, the 22-year-old completed a switch from Bennetton Treviso to Exeter Chiefs last season but his appearances have been limited due to the presence of Henry Slade, Sam Hill and former Ulster centre Ian Whitten.

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

Six Nations searching for new title sponsor after RBS confirm split

Munster Rugby announce forecasted deficit of €1.9 million

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (2)