The unprecedented 2020 Autumn Nations Cup will kicks off on Friday (Nov. 13) when Wales takes on Ireland.
On full display this November will be six of the world’s best teams – plus Italy and Georgia – and no shortage of earth-shattering talent. Whether it’s the Flying Fijians and their offloads, the electric Frenchmen with all their speed, or the all-around power and skill from the English, we’re going to be treated to a bevy of special tries, hits, and passes over the next four weeks.
Each of the eight teams – England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Fiji, Italy, and Georgia – will be bringing their strongest rosters, which means we’ll get to watch some of the very best players on the planet get after it for four matches.
Here are the players to keep an eye on as they compete to take home the title:
Tom Curry | England - Flanker
Curry broke out in a massive way in 2019 as a 21-year-old stalwart in England’s vaunted back row. Whether he’s lining up at 6, 7, or 8, it doesn’t matter; Tom Curry stifles an opposition attack better than any player on the planet.
There is nobody better over the ball than the long, powerful Curry, and his open-field skill with ball in hand is the cherry on top of his all-around defensive prowess.
Expect to see Curry make a nuisance of himself this autumn in the Nations Cup.
Antoine Dupont | France – Scrumhalf
Antoine Dupont is the best player in the world right now. Period. The dynamite French halfback is changing the way the game is being played and is showing us all that a scrumhalf can be both technically and physically brilliant.
Dupont and his partner Romain Ntamack are steering a lethal French ship at the moment, and any time those two are on the field you simply cannot take your eyes away for a moment.
Expect to see Dupont getting on the end of some brilliant French tries in the next month.
James Ryan | Ireland - Lock
Ireland may be seeing somewhat of a changing in the guard, but one guy who won’t be going anywhere is big lock James Ryan. Ryan may only be 24, but he’s already reeled in 28 caps and a Six Nations Grand Slam for Ireland, and for Leinster a Champions Cup and three Pro14 titles.
Ryan’s immense work rate, tackling, and set piece ability have been at the heart of his teams’ run of successes.
Expect James Ryan to power that Ireland engine room once again as they look to get back to the top of European rugby.
Stuart Hogg | Scotland - Fullback
With both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings facing injury, the Scottish backline will rely even more heavily on its talismanic fullback Stuart Hogg.
Hogg experienced European Cup and Premiership success in his first year with new club Exeter, and he hopes to continue ringing in the trophies – this time for his country. He’s long been one of the world’s most electric back three players, beating defenders in his sleep. What he’s added over the years, however, is a kind of game management and decision-making that might have eluded him in his youth.
Expect to see Hogg orchestrating picturesque counter attacks and providing staunch defense in the back for Scotland in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Louis Rees-Zammit | Wales - Wing
When will we see the lightning quick feet of young Rees-Zammit light up the international stage? Outside pressure from fans and media has to weighing down on Wales boss Wayne Pivac, as the Kiwi continues to make the 19-year-old winger wait his turn.
There may not have been a more exciting young player in the premiership this season than Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit. All eyes will be on the teenager if he finally scores that coveted first start in the red Wales shirt.
Expect to see the fastest man in the Six Nations carve up the scene when he gets his shot this autumn.
Semi Radradra | Fiji - Center
In possibly the best bit of news over the past week, it was announced by the Bristol Bears that their superstar center Semi Radradra would recover from his hamstring injury to be match fit for the Autumn Nations Cup.
Radradra has perhaps the most compelling case as the best center in the world in 2020, and his talents seem to have no boundaries. The big Fijian can outpace, outpower, and outstep his defenders, but what sets him apart is his incredible passing ability. Radradra always times his passes to perfection, and in the event he does take contact, he offloads as well as any player in the world.
Expect to see this human highlight reel shredding hopeless defenders throughout the Autumn Nations Cup.
Jake Polledri | Italy - Flanker
English-born, Italian-capped flanker Jake Polledri is a master of busting tackles. The Gloucester forward was a breakout in the Premiership this year, and has all the makings of the next Italian great.
Polledri will face some tough sledding in the Autumn Nations Cup with matches against France, Scotland, and Fiji, but he will certainly deliver on his goods. The big man is fast, strong, and very balanced, and is exactly the guy Italy will need to get them moving forward with ball-in-hand.
Expect to see the truck-stick and the dancing feet on full display over the next four weeks for the Italians.
Watch Jake Polledri & Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup on FloRugby!
Vasil Lobzhanidze | Georgia – Scrumhalf
Georgia is generally renowned for its ferocious scrum, but heading into the Autumn Nations Cup, all eyes should be on the little guy behind it. Brive halfback Vasil Lobzhanidze is a firecracker for the Georgians who has a really good ability to push the pace and deliver incisive passes.
The ANC is a prime opportunity for Georgia to make a claim that they do belong in the Six Nations, and crucial to that will be the performance of young Lobzhanidze.