Young guns who fired at the RWC

Date published: August 6 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Jonah_Lomu_NZ_v_England_RWC_1995

The Rugby World Cup is not just a stage for greats to showcase their talents, it is also a place where stars are born.

Youngsters such as South Africa's Handre Pollard, England's Anthony Watson, Scotland's Jonny Gray, Japan's Yoshikazu Fujita and France's Gael Fickou will be among those aiming to make a name for themselves at this year's competition.

Here are 10 young players who starred on their World Cup debuts…

Gareth Rees (Canada) – RWC 1987
Rees, then aged 20, kicked 26 points from three games for minnows Canada in his first tournament. He would play in three more editions; scoring an overall 120 points in 12 of his 13 World Cup matches and was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.

Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) – RWC 1999
Twenty-year-old O'Driscoll played in all four of Ireland's matches at the 1999 tournament, where he touched down against United States and kicked a drop goal against Romania. 'BOD' would make three more editions and become Ireland's top try scorer with 46, including seven at the World Cup.

Brian Lima (Samoa) – RWC 1991
At 19 – the youngest player at the 1991 World Cup – Lima played in Samoa's 16-13 win over Wales and scored twice against Argentina. 'The Chiropractor' is the only player to feature at five World Cups and was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.

Francois Steyn (South Africa) – RWC 2007
Steyn holds the record for being the youngest player to score in and win a World Cup final – at 20 years and 159 days old – in the 2007 tournament, where he played in every game for the Springboks. Steyn scored one try and kicked 12 points, including a penalty in the final against England.

George North (Wales) – RWC 2011
North became the youngest try scorer – at 19 years and 166 days old – in World Cup history when he touched down twice against Namibia. He also scored against Fiji and played in all seven games of Wales' 2011 campaign, where they finished fourth.

Joe Roff (Australia) – RWC 1995
Roff first appeared for the Wallabies at the 1995 World Cup, where the winger – then aged 19 – scored three of his six tournament tries. Roff would go on to play in two World Cup finals; winning the first against France in 1999 and coming runners-up to England in 2003.

Dan Carter (New Zealand) – RWC 2003
Carter was 21 when he marked his arrival on the world stage by scoring two tries and kicking 38 points at the 2003 tournament. 'DC', who scored 42 and 21 points at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups respectively, would later establish himself as the highest Test points scorer and arguably the best fly-half in world rugby.

Jonny Wilkinson (England) – RWC 1999
Wilkinson scored one try and kicked 56 points in his debut World Cup at 20 years of age in 1999. He would later kick the winning drop goal against Australia in the 2003 final, become the only player to score points in two World Cup finals with six against South Africa in 2007. He is the tournament's record points scorer with 277 from his four appearances.

Joe Rokocoko (New Zealand) – RWC 2003
At just 20, Rokocoko scored six tries at his first World Cup in 2003. Rokocoko notched up a record-equalling 17 tries that year and was named International Rugby Players' Association Player of the Year for 2003. His All Blacks' Test record stands at 46 tries, including 11 at the World Cup, from 68 caps.

Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) – RWC 1995
Lomu took the rugby world by storm in 1995 with seven tries in five matches, including four against England, and became the youngest player to feature in a World Cup Final at 20 years and 43 days old. He then scored eight tries at the 1999 edition to make him the tournament's record try scorer with 15 in two World Cups!

By Aron Hegarty

COMMENTS