This year’s Champions Cup competition will be as hotly contested as ever. Many of the teams throughout the European leagues are currently playing to a very high standard, so the level of competition is sure to be fierce. It’s the players though that make any tournament exciting. Here are five players to watch over the course of this season’s elite European club tournament:
Players to watch
The young Leinster back has been a vital player in the Irish side’s successful start to the season. His late try against Edinburgh clinched the win for the Dublin-based club, and more recently he made a try-saving tackle on Munster’s Keith Earls in the Irish derby. This was a tackle which could have turned the course of the game if it had not been made, but Carbery is already showing a knack for making his biggest plays in the biggest moments of a game. The young New Zealand born player will only get better, and this is an ideal stage for him to shine.
The ever electric Charles Piutau is always one to watch when he’s on the pitch. The Kiwi is a threat from deep, with the ability to attack the line and make metres that others cannot with his dazzling footwork. Despite Ulster not having the greatest start to the season and Piutau only scoring once, any team that comes up against him will have to be aware of his presence. This was proven in Ulster’s first game of the campaign where a two-minute burst of Piutau’s skills was enough to beat Wasps.
The Saracens and England lock got his first, of what I’m sure will be many calls ups, to the British & Irish Lions squad as they toured New Zealand over the summer. Despite only being 22-years-old, Itoje rose to the challenge no matter who he has faced, and he has played some fantastic rugby against the best players in the world. Itoje is versatile, being able to play both in the second row and at flanker – excelling at both. The Saracen’s strength when carrying the ball and abilities in the line-out make him a force to be reckoned with around the park.
The 18-year-old Harlequin is one of the most exciting players in world rugby right now. Despite only just being out of school, he is already the London club’s first choice no. 10. Additionally, he is the Aviva Premiership’s leading points scorer. Due to his obvious talent, Smith was called into the England training camp so that Eddie Jones and his staff could get a closer look at his abilities. The wonderkid has a bright future ahead of him, expect his stock to rise in the forthcoming years.
The 22-year-old Fijian is a try scoring machine. Raka has scored an impressive 17 tries in 25 appearances for Clermont, with 5 of those tries coming in the last 3 games. Raka, in my eyes, is the best of the Fijian wingers that seem to dominate out wide in the Top 14 this season. It is amazing how many of the Pacific Islanders are playing in France, but few have the size, speed, and finishing ability that Raka has shown. Any defence that faces Raka will be looking to channel play to the other side of the field because he is almost unstoppable one-on-one.
Who else do you think will shine over the course of this tournament? Let us know below!
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