Since there is no French Top 14 or English Premiership Final Whistle will take a week off punting but writes an interesting piece on some youngsters to have a look at in the coming months, Final Whistle will be back next week to cover the Aviva English Premiership.
Five Youngsters to Keep an Eye On In 2018
With not much domestic European Rugby on the go this weekend – there’s only the Anglo-Welsh Cup and a couple of Pro D2 games taking place – I finally have a bit of time to conjure up that ‘Youngsters to Watch’ piece I promised you all early last month.
Below, I will take a look at five youngsters who I think will make a big impact in 2018 whether it be for club or country.
1 – Jordan Larmour (Leinster/Ireland)
Larmour may have been excluded from the Irish squad for their opening Six Nations fixture against France, but the Leinster man will certainly make an impact for the Irishmen as soon as he gets a chance to don the famous green jersey.
The talented utility back has been tearing it up for Leinster in the Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. His devastating turn of pace and his exceedingly happy feet have seen he become something of a YouTube sensation. I reckon the20-year-old will be Ireland’s first choice fullback come the end of November.
2 – Damien Willemse (Stormers/South Africa Under 20s)
Arguably South Africa’s most exciting prospect, young Damien will face a trial by fire this year as he is currently the only fit and available recognised ten in the Stormers Super Rugby squad. The youngster enjoyed a solid eight or so months last year, starring in the Baby Boks run to the Under 20 Championship semi-finals and making a decent start to life in Super Rugby. He did go off the boil during the Currie Cup and was moved to fullback with Rob du Preez taking over the fly-half duties during the latter part of Province’s title run.
Willemse has great vision, a lethal sidestep as well as a slick set of hands. The only real concern is his lack of physicality which was often exposed by the heavier centres in the Currie Cup. While not as adverse to a tackle as fellow starlet Curwin Bosch, Willemse will have to spend some time in the gym to ensure he packs more of a punch on defence.
3 – Stephen Perofeta (Blues/ New Zealand Under 20s)
Perofeta is another young man who will have the weight of the world on his shoulders when Super Rugby kicks off as he’s likely to get a lot more game time with Blues off-season recruit Otere Black suffering a season-ending injury.
There’s hope that this young man can give the Blues something special like Auckland legend Carlos Spencer did. He certainly has the range of passing to emulate ‘King Carlos’ although his decision making will need a lot of work in order for him to be the heir apparent to the Spencer thrown.
4 – Mathieu Jalibert (Bordeaux Begles/France)
France are placing a massive amount of faith in young Jalibert giving him a start in their Six Nations opener against Ireland. I can see why they’ve done it though as Jalibert has certainly caught my eye over the past twelve months.
The youngster enjoyed a solid Under 20 Championship campaign and has followed that up with some highly impressive performances for the Bordeaux Begles in the Top 14. He’s an attacking fly-half with a great eye for a gap. He also has a solid kicking game.
5 – Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes/New Zealand)
The most exciting prospect in world rugby, Asafo Aumua, is set to take Super Rugby by storm this year. The hooker enjoyed a marvellous 2017 with his freakish displays in both the Under 20 Championship and Mitre 10 Cup seeing him added to the All Blacks end of the year touring squad.
The big man has a blistering set of wheels – check out his YouTube videos and you’ll see what I mean. He also doesn’t shirk from his core duties as a hooker as he has a great lineout feed and is a solid scrummager. My money is on this young man being named the IRB’s Young Player of the Year.