Rugby Union

Ten players who should be playing in the Rugby World Cup

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France and Racing 92 scrum-half, Maxime Machenaud has had a good season and is secure as the number one scrum-half for his club, despite the presence of veteran international Mike Phillips.

Furthermore, he can kick for goal and is a dynamic leader. Machenaud misses out to the petit général Morgan Parra, South African import Rory Kockott and Toulon ace Sébastien Tillous-Borde.

Tillous-Borde is likely to be the starting scrum-half, partnering club mate Frédéric Michalak.


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Australian fly-half Berrick Barnes has been harshly overlooked by coach Micheal Cheika, who has changed the eligibility rules. Now, only overseas veterans with 60 caps or more can play for Australia, aside from those that play club rugby in Australia.

However, he has already bent those rules to accommodate lock Kane Douglas, who has only sixteen caps and currently plays for Leinster (he has signed for Queensland Reds after the World Cup).

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Barnes is currently playing for Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan. But the 51 cap veteran could have come in to fill the gap of fly-half and goal-kicker. A position currently being filled by Quade Cooper or Bernard Foley, both of whom are struggling with form and goal kicking.

New Zealand centre Ryan Crotty has been Mr Consistent for the entire Super 15 season. However, Crotty’s position has been a competitive field for New Zealand.

Maar Nonu and Conrad Smith may well have found the fountain of youth, such has been their form and energy leading up to the World Cup.

Young gun Malaki Fekitoa has also been in sterling form. Sonny Bill Williams, however, has been in more indifferent form, not making the big breaks or creating as much as he has in previous seasons. Crotty is unfortunate to lose out to Williams.

Form counts for nothing

Dave Attwood is a big bruiser of a lock who has been in fantastic form for both Bath and England. He carried well in the Six Nations and was a defensive stalwart.

He loses out to returning veterans Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury, along with Lock partner George Kruis. Lauchbury has recently returned from injury and does not look fit, unlike Attwood, who has given several robust performances in the warm-up period.

Italian lock Marco Bortalami, an elder statesmen of the Azzurri, may well be missed for his leadership and blockbusting tackles. With 111 caps and the honour of being Italy’s youngest ever captain, Bortalami was an unexpected rejection. Problems with indiscipline and fitness may well be the reason for his oversight.

Australian scrum-half Nick White was a key substitute against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship final, scoring a try, converting it and kicking a penalty.

He brings a massive boot, goal kicking options and a swift service. Questions have been asked about his ability to handle pressure, but he was the form Australian scrum-half coming into the World Cup.

It was a shock that he was left out following a bout of poor form from both Nick Phipps and Will Genia. Genia has also had several injury problems recently.

Injury problems

All Black fullback Israel Dagg has had injury problems during the last season, with Tom Taylor filling in for several games.

He was given his chances during the warm-up period. However, Steve Hanson opted for three fly-half’s who are versatile and the in-form Ben Smith and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

England fly-half Danny Cipriani may have had a slight brush with the law that came to nothing, but in the warm-up matches he was involved in, Cipriani looked like England’s best play, even when out of position at centre or fullback.

It seems totally unfair Cipriani is not going to be involved in the World Cup, as his presence was the catalyst that got England going forward with purpose in both matches against France. To be frank, he should be starting for England.


Wales utility back James Hook can honestly do nothing else to get the Wales coaches to pick him, but they seem hell bent on him not playing for Wales in the World Cup.

He was given a chance in the first warm-up match against Ireland, but the odds were heavily stacked against him. With an inexperienced back line, a young pack going backwards and an out of form Mike Phillips at scrum-half, who seemed determined to slow the tempo, it’s no surprise Hook didn’t make a huge impact.

It seems the man that Graham Henry called the 'Welsh Dan Carter', is constantly facing an uphill struggle to be selected by the management. Either by being put in a weak side or playing in a position he is unaccustomed to.

When Leigh Halfpenny was injured, he was tipped by ex-players and pundits to come back in. When Eli Walker then became injured, Wales chose to call in another number eight rather than cover a shallow backline.

The Scotland flanker John Barclay, in the same manner as James Hook, is an unbelievably talented and experienced player who is given the bare minimum of opportunities to prove his worth.

He was a try scorer and key player in the victory against Italy. However, Vern Cotter decided to go with New Zealand Flanker John Hardie, who is currently contracted to the SRU with only two caps to his name.

Barclay will be well within his rights to feel bitter as he could be playing no better and yet he is still left in the international wilderness.

Are there any players you cant think of that DON'T deserve to be at the World Cup but are? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below

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Rugby Union
Six Nations
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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