Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content for www.prorugbyclub.com to help players excel on and off the field.Read more exclusive columns
Six Nations: Players to Watch
Nick McCashin 31 Jan 2017 Getty Images
Murray has an opportunity to nail a British and Irish Lions jersey with a strong Six Nations campaign. He is a solid player and smart organiser. His passing game is top class and possesses an accurate box kick. He has knocked up a half century of Tests and has really developed into a pivotal player for Ireland. Should Jonny Sexton have more injury concerns Conor will be called upon to play a bigger role in directing Ireland around the field. 53 caps.
Position: Number Eight
A lot can be said about an outstanding game here and there but when you backup performance after performance people start noticing. Young has been in outstanding form for his club side Wasps and should make his Test debut during the Six Nations campaign. Young will provide some spark to the Wales back row and could be a bolter for the Lions if he continues his club form onto the international stage.
Position: Loose forward
Debut: Yet to debut
The battle for the Lions number eight jersey will be tightly contested and Faletau has the chance to put his hand up during the Six Nations. His recent performances against South Africa would suggest he is in the fold but a niggling medial ligament knee has been a concern over the last few weeks. Depending on the extent of the damage to his knee we may not see him until the second round of games. If he misses more than one game his performances will need to be superb.
Position: Number Eight
The young centre will need to step up and take more responsibility if Wesley Fofana is still injured. Gael is still only 22 but a massive talent and has the ability to be a dangerous attacking player. He is definitely a French player to watch now and for the future.
Picamoles is the second most experienced French Six Nations player with 22 appearances. He will play an important role with many of the squad having little or no Six Nations experience. The challenge will be repeating his strong performances for club Northampton Saints on the international stage.
Position: Loose Forward
He has been mentioned a lot in recent weeks about his work rate for club side Glasgow and recent form in the Autumn Tests. His statistics across recent internationals is something to be admired. Gray made 101 tackles without missing one in the 2016 Six Nations and 2016 November Tests. The towering Scotsman is one to watch because he has developed into a strong leader in the Scotland pack and is only 22 years of age. Despite his young age, he is already being touted as a potential future captain for the British and Irish Lions. His lineout work will be an important element to help keep Finn Russell on the front foot.
Russell is an important player for the Scotland side. He is a fly half that can play closer to the line and offer a potent attacking threat. Expect him to also be called upon late in the game for goal kicking duties. Let’s hope he can stay injury free during the Six Nations campaign and put his hand up for selection for the Lions.
Position: First five-eighth
I have mentioned Ali Price in a previous article about being a bolter for the Lions series. Although unlikely to get a start ahead of Greg Laidlaw, he will provide something off the bench. Price will offer an attacking threat from half back late in the game. He has developed a solid partnership with Finn Russell at Glasgow so expect no disruption there. Look out for a few breaks late in the game.
Brown always seems to perform in the Six Nations and regularly picks up a man of the match prize. He rarely makes mistakes and is a solid option if you are looking for a points scoring fullback in your fantasy rugby team. At 31 he is like a fine wine who is getting better with age.
We will probably see Sinckler add some late impact from the bench during the Six Nations however. He is a powerful runner and his influence from the bench could be crucial to help England finish games. Definitely a player for the future should he get enough game time and experience at the highest level.
Parisse is a fantastic player and loyal servant for Italy. He steps up every Six Nations to match it with the best in the northern hemisphere. This year he will be called upon as an important leader and mentor for rising talent Federico Ruzza. Each team in the Six Nations will need a number of players with experience. Sergio provides valuable experience with over 100 caps for his country.
Position: Number Eight
Campagnaro has been unlucky with injury over the last few seasons but provides power, pace and rugby intelligence for Italy in the midfield. He will be growing in confidence after performing at club level for Exeter. Head coach Conor O’Shea has helped Italy improve and picking players like Campagnaro is providing a promising future for Italy.
Are you heading to NZ for the #NZLionsSeries17? Check out our list of 15 things to do in the country!
READ: https://t.co/FOj9KCRfS8 pic.twitter.com/9YvDh6UvJA— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) January 24, 2017