next gen

Tana Umaga's nephew and more players to watch out for at the U20 World Cup

Here are five non-Irish players we’re looking forward to seeing in action from tomorrrow.

TOMORROW, THE WORLD Rugby U20 Championship gets under way in Georgia. By now, you might be aware of some of the Irish stars we’ve featured recently, so here are a few players from rival nations who we’re looking forward to seeing in action.

Zach Mercer

Eddie Jones has taken Grand Slam winning flankers Tom and Ben Curry under his wing for the tour to Argentina, but the driving force of the England U20 pack has been left at his post.

The powerful number eight, who played 12 times for Bath this season, gives his side a constant source of go-forward ball and is an excellent organiser around set-piece.

Zach Mercer James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Thomas Umaga-Jensen

To answer your first question, yes he is related to some other notable Kiwi athletes. The powerful number 12′s twin brother Peter is unavailable for this tour but is on the books with the Hurricanes. His older sister Soraya is a basketball international. His cousin Jacob is in the England squad… oh yeah, and his uncle Tana was All Black captain too.

Though also capable of playing fullback, Umaga-Jensen is a formidable presence in midfield, but also has the handling skills and eye for a gap to make him fit the bill of a ‘second five-eighth’. He is part of the Highlanders’ academy, so has not been able to form a midfield partner with his outside centre twin in some time.

Tiaan Falcon

Another Baby Black, and why not.

Ireland will have to contend with a sharpshooter at number 10 when they meet New Zealand in the pool stage. Part of the Wellington Hurricanes setup, there’s no shortage of talent ahead of him in the senior ranks, but he will get every chance to show his distribution skills and threat with ball in hand in Georgia.

Zain Davids

A veteran of the Baby Boks’ run to fourth-place in last year’s tournament, Davids will be older, stronger and faster when he returns to the South Africa back row.

Mariano Romanini and Zain Davids Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The SARU have been putting Davids’ power to use across the codes. He has already had a successful season having helped the BlitzBokke to take the sevens World Series title.

Reece Hewat

With reigning champions England alongside them in Pool A, Australia will need all the strength they can muster. A former schoolboy captain, Hewat can deliver just that from number eight.

The Queensland Reds has suffered an unfortunate run of injuries, but his mobile power can deliver just the sort of gain-lines that the green and gold thrive on.

Who else are you looking forward to getting a good look at over the next few weeks?

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