Five southern hemisphere players to watch in autumn internationals

The southern hemisphere teams make their usual trek up north at the end of their domestic season for the autumn internationals.

New Zealand and England currently lead the World Rugby rankings, chased by a pack of six teams who are all involved in Test matches over the next month.

Here we look at five touring players who will potentially light up the stadiums in the coming weeks.

Josua Tuisova (Fiji)

The flying Fijian is certainly a danger man with ball in hand and one to watch this autumn. The 23-year-old is a relative newcomer to international rugby, but has been prominent in the Top 14 and Champions Cup in recent times.

Ireland vs Fiji

November 18, 2017, 5:15pm

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The outside back is physically imposing and has a great turn of pace, and his explosive power and hand-off means he is a real threat in open play and a menace to the opposition defence.

Fijian coach John McKee has named a strong touring party of local and overseas players for the games against Italy, Ireland and Canada, and will be looking for some good results to create some continuity with an eye on the 2019 World Cup.

The strong running Tuisova should be a key part of the squad in Japan and will be hoping to cement a starting place on this tour – expect some fireworks from the Fijian.

Handre Pollard (South Africa)

The Bulls fly-half will be hoping to put his two injury-interrupted seasons behind him on this end of year tour. Elton Jantjies has been wearing the Springbok No 10 jersey while Pollard has been out, but the Lions No 10 hasn’t quite made the position his own.

Ireland vs South Africa

November 11, 2017, 5:15pm

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Former Under 20 World Cup winner Pollard has been selected by Allister Coetzee without much game time, due in part to the inconsistency of Jantjies as well as confirmation of Pollard’s quality.

The 22-cap Springbok is exceptional from a game management point of view, and has an all-round game to match. Pollard’s kicking from hand is fantastic, and his kicking from the tee is also consistent and important to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Standing at 97 kilograms, the pivot attacks the advantage line at will, which is key in getting the burly South African forwards on the front foot and a big part of the Springboks game plan.

A general who controls the game is something that the Springboks desperately need in order to become consistent performers on the international stage as they look to take on Ireland, France, Italy and Wales in the autumn.

Reece Hodge (Australia)

Reece Hodge is proving to be a handy utility back with some scintillating performances in a variety of positions for the Wallabies this season.

England vs Australia

November 18, 2017, 2:55pm

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Hodge, who plays centre or full-back for the Melbourne Rebels, has recently been utilized at wing at international level, and the former Australian Schoolboys representative played fly-half against Japan on Saturday due to regular No 10 Bernard Foley withdrawing through illness. He kicked 18 points with a flawless performance from the tee.

The rangy Rebel has a booming boot from both hand and the kicking tee, and is an astute reader of the game.

Hodge scored a try as well as two penalty kicks, the second being a massive 55-metre effort, in the recent Bledisloe Cup victory over the All Blacks.

He also registered two tries against Argentina in the last game of the Rugby Championship. It’s plain to see the utility back is fast becoming a match-winner and a vital member of this young Australian squad.

Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina)

The well-travelled Pumas full-back has become a permanent fixture in the back three for the South American side.

While the form of Argentina seems to have dipped in the Rugby Championship, the same cannot be said of the performances of Tuculet – the 28-year-old is playing some of the best rugby of his career at present.

England vs Argentina

November 11, 2017, 2:00pm

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The Jaguares’ Tuculet has a good turn of pace and enters the backline from the No 15 spot with regularity; the Argentine game plan has developed into a ball-in-hand approach which has suited the free-flowing running of Tuculet.

The full-back knows his way to the try line as was demonstrated recently in the June Tests where he scored tries in both games against England. He will be hoping to notch up his 50th cap on the upcoming tour of the northern hemisphere.

Argentina have a tough tour where they play England first up, followed by Italy, and lastly Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

Tim Nanai-Williams (Samoa)

Nanai-Williams’ Super Rugby form has been impressive for some time, and he will be hoping to replicate it on the international stage this November as he aims to make the No 15 jersey his own on the end-of-year tour.

The cousin of All Black Sonny Bill Williams is an elusive runner with pace to burn, and has all the flicks, tricks and steps to be the ultimate game-breaker. However, it is from a leadership point of view where he could provide the most value with Samoan rugby having some off-field financial issues. Focus will be paramount for the Islanders in getting the required results.

Samoa will be looking to improve on their 2017 record where they have lost to Tonga, Fiji and Wales after a one-sided loss to New Zealand.

Their opening Test is at Murrayfield against Scotland, followed by a fixture against Romania, before finishing off the tour with the daunting prospect of England at Twickenham.

An in-form Nanai-Williams could be worth the ticket price on his own.