The race to the finish line: Who will end up top try scorer in the Rugby World Cup?
A profile of the leading candidates to set the 2015 tournament alight by finishing top of the try scoring charts and leading their country to glory
Points win rugby matches no matter what form they come in, but nothing gets the crowd off their seats quite like a sensational try.
From electric runners to powerful poachers - the 2015 Rugby World Cup will feature all of the very best finishers in the game.
Here's our look at the players set to shine for all of the tournament's leading nations.
Given New Zealand’s status as tournament favourites and their kind pool containing the likes of Georgia and Namibia, it is hardly surprising that it is All Blacks who make up five of the top six favourites.
At the top of that list priced at 9/2 is Julian Savea.
With 30 tries in 35 Tests, the 25-year-old winger is officially the most fearsome finisher in world rugby.
Having scored two international hat-tricks during his career as well as seven braces, expect him to make hay throughout the tournament. The two players vying to fill the spot on the opposite wing for New Zealand are also highly fancied to keep the scoreboard busy.
The inclusion of Waisake Naholo in the Kiwis’ squad was a surprise to many given that he cracked his fibula on debut just two months ago.
However, having made a miraculous recovery after returning to his native Fiji for traditional treatment that involved wrapping his leg in kawakawarau leaves, he is now 11/1 to round off the fairytale story by finishing as top try scorer.
To do so, he will need to be selected ahead of Nehe Milner-Skudder, who currently holds the jersey.
The Hurricanes winger caused a storm when he filled the vacant berth later in the Rugby Championship, scoring two tries on debut against Australia to force his way into the World Cup squad.
The 24-year-old more than makes up for his lack of physicality with his deceptive footwork and languid running style – and is 10/1 to finish at the top of the charts.
The old rugby saying goes that it is the forwards who create the chances and the backs that put them away.
Good news, then, for England - who currently boast one of their most exciting back lines in recent memory.
Centre Jonathan Joseph has caused quite a stir since his reintroduction to the international set-up with five tries in seven matches during this calendar year – and he is 25/1 to prove the star man of this World Cup. Also at 25/1 is Joseph’s club mate Anthony Watson, with the Bath winger scoring four tries in his last three matches for England at Twickenham that showcased all his vast array of talents.
Making a late dash into the reckoning is another winger in Jonny May, who has hit form at just the right time with two tries in three warm-up matches and is 33/1 to extend that streak throughout the tournament.
South Africa and Australia
Each with two World Cup titles to their name and as third and fourth favourites respectively, South Africa and Australia both have the potential to go far in the tournament – that is if they don’t end up meeting in the quarter-finals.
Should such a scenario arise, then the quality of their firepower will likely decide which of the two progresses.
In Bryan Habana, the Springboks have one of the most accomplished finishers in the game with 10 Rugby World Cup tries already to his name across two tournaments.
Just five short of Jonah Lomu’s all-time record, Habana is 11/1 to add another sizeable haul to his collection.
Another threat in the Boks’ back three is Willie le Roux, who has nine tries in 26 starts and is 18/1 to improve that record even further at the World Cup. Another full-back priced at 18/1 is Australia’s Israel Folau – one of the most exciting runners in the game with an international tally of 18 tries at better than one every other game.
A dark horse for the title at 28/1 is Wallaby winger Henry Speight.
Despite being yet to get off the mark for his country, Speight looks to have secured a starting spot in Michael Cheika’s exciting side and has the attributes to finish with aplomb.
Best of the rest
For Wales, George North remains the youngest try scorer in World Cup history following his exploits in 2011 - and with 23 tries in his 51 caps the 23-year-old is 25/1 to claim yet another record in 2015.
With Ireland sharing a pool with both Romania and Canada, tries ought to be relatively easy to come by for Tommy Bowe.
Already with 28 to his name – including two at the 2011 World Cup before Ireland were eliminated at the quarter-final stage – the Ulsterman is 33/1 to outscore everybody this time around. France’s primary threat comes in Toulouse winger Yoann Huget, who showed exactly what he is capable of with a storming try against England in the warm-ups and is 33/1 to produce more of the same.
An outside bet is Argentina’s Juan Imhoff, who stole the headlines in August with a hat-trick away to South Africa in Durban – the Pumas first ever victory over the Springboks.
It was a result that underlined the South Americans’ continued progress since finishing third at the 2007 World Cup, and Imhoff – priced at 80/1 – will be crucial to their hopes if they are to replicate such exploits.