Six Nations 2014: Four Stars To Dominate This Year's Championship

Know nothing about rugby but are revelling in the chance to spend a few extra hours in the pub? Here's a rundown of the players guaranteed to make an impact...
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Know nothing about rugby but are revelling in the chance to spend a few extra hours in the pub? Here's a rundown of the players guaranteed to make an impact...

Jack Nowell (England)

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England's lack of flair players has been a constant source of annoyance for home fans and amusement to pretty much everyone else for some time. Since the days of Jason Robinson skipping tackles from full back and Ben Cohen touching down in the corners, England have really struggled to produce or incorporate any real stand-out players capable of producing something magical out wide.

With Chris Ashton swan-diving himself out of the squad after an Autumn series most aptly summed up with a photo of some horse manure and rising star Christian Wade on the injury scrap heap, Stuart Lancaster has had to tap into the relatively untested pool of wingers the Aviva Premiership has to offer.

So, step forward Jack Nowell. The Exeter youngster has been in sparkling form this season and has been praised for his performances on the big stage by Lancaster. Despite running in only two tries in 16 games, the 20-year-old's attitude both on the pitch and in training, his obvious raw talent, as well as his commitment to sporting a very 80's bleach blonde mullet, have all counted towards the 15-stone full-back being handed his international debut at right-wing against France on Friday.

George North (Wales)

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In order to spice things up somewhat, we decided against picking two-time Six Nations player of the tournament and Lions man of the series, Leigh Halfpenny, as Wales' key man.

(But yes, we can already see you going red in the face at the fact that picking North is hardly a bold left-field decision. But when you realise that the Northern Hemisphere's finest attacking player is still sitting pretty at the age of TWENTY BLOODY ONE, you have to give credit where it's due.)

The winger has already set about carrying on his sterling work from his Lions tour last summer with an emphatic start to life at Northampton, so much so that the Saints have recently announced that they are to name their new state-of-the-art stand after the Welshman with the unveiling of plans for the new 'North Stand'. (This is a joke – A bad one, but a joke nonetheless).

The Youngster from Kings Lynn continues to show experience and knowledge of the game well beyond his years, and it would be a very foolish/drunk man to bet against North adding a sizeable amount of test career points to his already impressive 85 in the coming weeks.

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Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

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Despite having been around since the game of rugby was invented back in 1823, Ireland's baby-faced fly-half has only recently begun to live up to the hype at the grand old age of 28.

Having to fill the legendary boots of Ronan O'Gara has always appeared to be too much of a daunting task for the Dubliner, with many writing Sexton off just a few years into his test career.

After a terrible world cup, in which the fly-half came in for a mountain of criticism,and a disappointing 2013 Six Nations, a fantastic showing  during the Lions tour of Australia this summer saw Sexton claim the coveted number ten jersey as his own in convincing fashion, scoring a try in the final test against Australia in Sydney usurping the raw talents of coaches son Owen Farrell in the process.

With progress like that, he might even find the strength to conjure up a smile.

Wesley Fofana (France)

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France are the Manchester United of Rugby Union: A very good organisation going through a quite frankly hilarious passage of on-field uncertainty. But just as United have a new saviour in Juan Mata who looks set to change their fortunes, France have a lumbering beacon of hope weighing in at approximately eight Spanish footballers.

Wesley Fofana has been making waves for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14, and is arguably one of the hottest properties in World Rugby not that anyone other than the French teams would be able to afford him.

The 14-stone centre marked his debut with a try in France's victory over Italy last time round. Fofana then managed to add to his tally in each of the next three matches, writing his name into the history books as one of the few to ever achieve such a feat.

Despite France's woes, Fofana made it into the IRPA World XI for 2013, a testament to his own ability, and the 26 year old looks set to single-handedly drive his team forward in this year's tournament to avoid a second consecutive last place finish.

Honourable mentions: Leigh Halfpenny, Billy Vunipola, Stuart Hogg, Toby Faletau, Sergio Parisse and Brian O'Driscoll.

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