Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Five players to watch

Leinsters Brian O'Driscoll scores a try against Biarritz during the Amlin Challenge Cup, Semi Final at the RDS, Dublin, Ireland.
Northampton Saints George North during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingsholm Stadium, Northampton.
Stuart Hogg, Glasgow Warriors

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL, LEINSTER

Haunted by the unscripted ending to his fourth and final British and Irish Lions, one of Europe's greatest players of any era will be desperate to ensure his farewell season is memorable for the right reasons. The 34-year-centre is still capable of moments of genius.

GEORGE NORTH, NORTHAMPTON

The marquee signing of last summer saw the Lions superstar join Northampton and his arrival has given them a genuine chance of winning the Heineken Cup. North has made an impressive start to life at Franklin's Gardens and the bulldozing wing thrives on the big stage.

BILLY VUNIPOLA, SARACENS

Saracens have begun the Aviva Premiership like a freight train and Vunipola has been at the forefront of their power-game. Still only 20, the rampaging back row has been arguing a very strong case to be England's starting number eight this autumn.

STUART HOGG, GLASGOW

Made a strong start to the Lions tour but suffered following his move to fly-half from full-back. A different proposition in the number 15 jersey, however, where his speed and agility make him a dangerous counter-attacker who thrives in broken play.

JONATHAN PELISSIE, MONTPELLIER

Arguably the star of the Top 14 so far with his 31-point haul against Clermont and a headline-grabbing turn against Toulouse propelling the 25-year-old French scrum-half into Test contention for the autumn. Lightning quick and creative, he offers a threat all over the pitch.

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