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Which players in our Ones-To-Watch XV can take the 2015 Rugby World Cup by surprise?

10 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Which players in our Ones-To-Watch XV can take the 2015 Rugby World Cup by surprise?

Here's our selection of the best players from the smaller nations capable of causing an upset, who together we think could be quite a force...

The pool stages of the Rugby World Cup can often be accused of being a little predictable.

Yet every tournament to date has always featured sensational individual performances in a losing cause, shock victories for the underdogs and even the odd surprise inclusion in the quarter-final line-up.

Here’s our list of the players who could make a name for themselves during the coming weeks.

This is our 2015 Rugby World Cup Ones-To-Watch XV:

1. Mihai Lazar (ROM)

Standing at over 6ft 2in and weighing nearly 18 stone, few props in the world boast a physical frame as imposing as Lazar’s.

A French Top 14 champion with his club side Castres in 2013, Lazar is more than comfortable competing against the best players in Europe.

Having made three appearances at the 2011 World Cup – where he scored a try against Scotland – Lazar stands to earn his 50th cap during the 2015 pool stages.

2. Nicolas Klappenbach (URU)

Given that Uruguay’s last appearance in the Rugby World Cup came in 2003, it comes as no great surprise that not a single player in their 31-man squad has any major tournament experience.

Captain Nicolas Klappenbach will therefore have to be at his talismanic best for Los Teros as they enter the Pool of Death.

An accurate line-out thrower and a barrelling runner, his contribution will be vital in limiting the damage for the South Americans.

3. Martin Castrogiovanni (ITA)

Italy’s joint most-capped Test player, Wales’ Gethin Jenkins and New Zealand’s Tony Woodcock are the only prop forwards still playing the game with more international appearances to their name.

Famed for his bushy beard and flowing locks, Castrogiovanni has become a cult hero wherever he has played.

Named as the Premiership Player of the Year in the 2007, “Castro” has won four English league titles with Leicester Tigers and another in France with Toulon.

4. Samu Manoa (USA)

 Denied the chance to play in the 2011 World Cup due to contractual obligations with his former club Northampton Saints, Manoa will be straining at the leash to make a mark this time around.

Recently signed for European champions Toulon, the 6ft 7in forward – who plays most of his rugby at number eight – is famed for his bone-jarring hits both in attack and defence.samu-manoa5. Jamie Cudmore (CAN)

Having made his debut for Canada in 2002, this will be 37-year-old’s fourth World Cup representing the Maple Leafs.

Cudmore has spent the last decade playing in France’s Top 14 and helped Clermont Auvergne to their first ever domestic title in 2010.

Known for playing the game on the edge – the man ironically nicknamed “Cuddles” has developed a fearsome reputation playing in both the second and back row over the years.

6. Mamuka Gorgodze (GEO)

Gorgodze has made a hugely successful transition from lock to the back row while playing in France.

With good handling skills thanks to a background in basketball, the 6ft 5in bulldozer thrives on the physical aspect of the game.

Weighing in at nearly 19 stone, his surprising pace and rampaging runs have earned him the nickname “Gorgodzilla”.

With 24 tries, he is Georgia’s record try scorer – not bad for a forward.

7. Jacques Burger (NAM)

Namibia’s captain could stake a claim to be able to walk into any back row in the tournament – he is that good.

With two English Premiership titles to his name with Saracens, the tough-tackling flanker is famed for his fearless defending.

Named as one of the top-five players in the 2011 World Cup in a losing cause, Burger has long carried the Namibia team on his back.

8. Sergio Parisse (ITA)

Currently tied with Castrogiovanni as Italy’s most-capped player after making his Azzurri debut at the tender age of 18.

A stalwart for Stade Francais during the past 10 years, the Italy captain has long been considered one of the best number eights in the world.

Having scored three tries during three previous World Cup campaigns, Parisse is more than comfortable on the biggest stage of them all.ones-to-watch9. Fumiaki Tanaka (JAP)

Tanaka has long been considered one of Japan’s most influential players.

His performances in the 2011 World Cup were enough to earn him a contract with the New Zealand provincial side Otago before becoming the first ever Japanese player to play in the Super 15 after signing for the Highlanders in 2013.

Predominantly used as an understudy to Aaron Smith – the scrum-half in our All-Star XV – learning from the best has significantly improved his game.

10. Finn Russell (SCO)

Following more than 10 years of chopping and changing between specialists in other positions, in Finn Russell Scotland finally seem to have found a fly-half for the long haul.

Having burst onto the scene in guiding Glasgow to win their first ever Pro12 title, the 22-year-old has shown a maturity beyond his years that has helped to bring out the best in Scotland’s promising backline.

11. Ken Pisi (SAM)

The youngest of three Pisi brothers in the Samoa squad can often be found outside his sibling George, making the most of an understanding between the two that has been fomented first at North Harbour in their native New Zealand and now for Northampton.

A lightning fast winger who made his name playing Sevens, he loves to attack – clocking up more than a kilometre with ball in hand during his first season in England.

12. George Pisi (SAM)

Widely regarded as the most consistent centre in England since joining Northampton four years ago, the middle brother of the Pisi trio is a devastating attacker.

Named in the Premiership Dream Team after his first season in England, George already has 25 tries for the Saints to his name.

In a wide open pool, he looks certain to add to his international tally during his second World Cup.pisi-goneva13. Vereniki Goneva (FIJ)

As a powerful runner with silky skills, Goneva is cut from the same cloth as many of the Pacific Island flyers that have gone before him.

A key component in Leicester Tigers’ backline, he ended up as top Premiership try scorer for the 2013/14 season.

Having scored four tries on his Rugby World Cup debut in 2011, expect him to make an equally big impression this time around.

14. Fetu’u Vainikolo (TON)

With 14 tries in just 21 matches for Tonga, Vainikolo is a winger who knows how to finish.

Having signed for Oyonnax in the French Top 14 this summer, he has cut his teeth in the toughest leagues around the world for Otago, the Highlanders, Connacht and Exeter Chiefs.

With a World Cup try against Japan in 2011 already to his name, expect him to add to that tally this time around.

15. Stuart Hogg (SCO)

The star turn in a distinctively average Scotland side since making his debut in 2012, Stuart Hogg is one of the best backs in the Northern Hemipshere – as proven by his inclusion on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia.

Strong in the tackle and comfortable under the high ball, he also provides an incisive presence when joining the back line in attacking moves.

He is absolutely crucial to Scottish hopes.

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READ: Who makes the cut in our 2015 Rugby World Cup All-Star XV?