Planet Rugby

November Tests: Ten to Watch

30th October 2013 10:59

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Louw Jane Yarde

Finishers: Jane and Yarde

With the November Internationals commencing this weekend, we've picked out ten players to look out for over the next month.

Looking through the list, amongst the pack of rising young talents are a returning World Cup winner and a Springbok regarded as one of the best in the world in his position.

20 Test matches will take place over the course of November, so read on to find out who we're backing to impress.

You can see images of our ten selections here.

Pablo Matera (Argentina)

Argentina's rising star in the back row, Matera first caught our attention at the 2012 Junior World Champs in South Africa. In our scouting report at the time we noted that, at 1.94m, Matera is one of those invaluable big men who can add an extra line-out option and the Pumitas were using him as more of a third lock than a scavenger at the rucks. We obviously weren't the only ones watching as, after a sterling debut in the Rugby Championship where he started all eight matches, Leicester were quick to sign him up with Tigers boss Richard Cockerill calling him "one of the best young forwards in world rugby." Still only 20, Matera has a lot to learn, but he is a nature ball carrier and talented athlete. With the Pumas' traditional game plan revolving around the set pieces, he is likely to become a key player for them in coming years.

Tevita Kuridrani (Australia)

Following two excellent seasons with the Brumbies in Super Rugby, Kuridrani made the step up to Test rugby earlier this year under Ewen McKenzie. The Fijian-born outside centre though has particuarly stood out in his last two matches for the Wallabies - in the 54-17 win over Argentina and the 33-41 loss to New Zealand. Over the course of those two matches, Kuridrani made a combined 210 metres, four clean breaks, four offloads and beat eight defenders. He also both scored a try and provided an assist against the All Blacks. Elusive, rapid and incredibly exciting to watch, Kuridrani is set for a big European tour in the 13 shirt for Australia, starting at Twickenham.

Marland Yarde (England)

England's bright new hope on the wing is 21 and full of confidence, after confirming his presence at Test level with two tries on debut against a weakened Pumas side. Still, the London Irish flyer made three clean breaks and beat six defenders through a combination of his trademark pace, but under-appreciated power. The mental boost of that tour has only sent Yarde to greater heights, as he currently has six tries in six matches for Irish this season - including four in the Aviva Premiership. England have not had a solution on the left wing for some time, arguably since Mark Cueto was at his peak, but Yarde can crack the algorithm. With his all-round game, only a touch of patience will be required to see how he performs at Test level.

Jonathan Pélissié (France)

One of the revelations in the Top 14 this season, Pélissié has been a points machine for Montpellier since making the move from Grenoble, with whom he won the ProD2 last year. The 25-year-old has scored 66 points, including three tries in just five starts for Montpellier. 31 of those points came in an eye-catching performance against Clermont that put his name firmly on the list of rising stars in France. France has an overabundance of quality scrum-halves at the moment and it required a bit of bad fortune for Maxime Machenuad to provide Pélissié with his first call up but we reckon that given half the chance, he could become a regular member of the Bleus setup.

Chris Henry (Ireland)

The Ulster flanker has been in fine form in the early rounds of RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup. Featuring primarily at openside, Henry has excelled around the breakdown with his physicality and ball-winning faculty, particularly in tight games where his capacity to win penalties has proved decisive. He is also a formidable carrying option; often influential for the province in the loose in getting them on the front foot. Facing physical opponents including Samoa and New Zealand, Henry will need to carry that strength and dynamism into the test-match arena.

Cory Jane (New Zealand)

Was playing some exceptional rugby before ruptured knee ligaments ruled him out for ten months. Now 30 years of age, Jane was selected to win his 44th Test cap against Australia, but had to withdraw due to injury. That setback will only mean he kicks on during November. Jane is a quality defender - particularly under the high ball - and attacking threat with ball in hand so is set to continue his reemergence into that deadly back-three alongside Israel Dagg and Julian Savea, with Ben Smith at 13. It says a lot that only two ITM Cup games led to his All Blacks recall.

Jack Lam (Samoa)

While he has not been a regular starter at the Hurricanes, Lam has been superb for the Wellington franchise for a few years now when given time on the field. Not the biggest openside flanker but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in guts, speed and power. Samoa possess excellent back-row talent and we can't wait to see the likes of Faifili Levave, Taiasina Tuifua, Maurie Faasavalu and Ofisa Treviranus facing Ireland, the French Barbarians and Georgia. Livewire Lam though is our one to watch and we expect him to cause that trio of opponents problems.

Chris Fusaro (Scotland)

The feisty Glasgow Warriors flanker would almost certainly have made appeared on the international stage prior to now had he not been blighted by such a poor run of injuries. With Ross Rennie sidelined again, Fusaro is the out-and-out openside many Scots fans have been calling for, and his performances for the Warriors in the opening salvos of the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup have been nothing short of outstanding. His stature may count against him when the monstrous Springbok pack touch down in Edinburgh, but he is set to be given a chance to transfer his scintillating club form to the navy blue national jersey.

Francois Louw (South Africa)

Openside flanker Francois Louw seldom plays a bad game for his country and has become one of the stalwarts in the side since Heyneke Meyer took over the reins in 2012. Louw's main strength is his prowess at the breakdown where his ball poaching skills has elevated him to be amongst game's top scavengers. He also enjoys the physical side of the game and is not afraid to put his body on the line for the Bok cause. Louw has also emerged as one of the leaders in the Springbok pack and he has thrived as Bath's captain in the Premiership.

Scott Williams (Wales)

The absence of Jamie Roberts was feared to be a sizeable blow to the Welsh midfield but the recent solid form of Scarlets centre Williams in both the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup has instead given the country a feeling of optimism going into November. Williams is forming what is arguably the strongest centre partnership in the Pro12, alongside Jonathan Davies, and we fully expect these two men to shine in the upcoming months. Watch Williams' dynamic running cause plenty of problems as when he spots a gap, few can stop him at source. A very underrated player.

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