- Players are bigger, faster, stronger - Moody
- See who Lewis has picked as his "four to watch" during the LV= Cup season
Photo: Pinnacle Photo Agency
Back in 2001 myself and my old Leicester Tigers team mate Benny Kay made our debuts for England… and two years later we both had Rugby World Cup winners' medals around our necks after an unforgettable victory in Sydney.
The same path to World Cup glory is available to every young player and that road to 2015 for some could start during this season’s LV= Cup.
Players are bigger, faster, stronger than they were 12 years ago so all the players know that a big performance in the LV= Cup could be just the springboard they need to bring them to the attention of England head coach Stuart Lancaster or one of his international colleagues.
You can see from Stuart’s recent selections that no one is guaranteed their place in the World Cup squad and that after seeing the squad he picked for the Autumn Internationals it is definitely based on form and not on reputation.
Photo: Pinnacle Photo Agency
I thoroughly enjoyed last season’s LV= Cup and if you look at the list of those players selected on the shortlist for LV= Breakthrough Player Award, you can see guys who could easily be playing for their country at the World Cup in 2015.
The eventual winner of last season’s LV= Breakthrough Player Award was Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell; a major prospect and has the ability to play either full back or wing. other contenders Tom Heathcote has already been recognised by Scotland, while Luke Wallace is a guy who clearly has the pedigree to play Test rugby.
It was very tough picking out four young players to watch, but in the end I came up with a quartet (below) who I believe could use this season’s LV= Cup as a platform to kick off an international career that could include a World Cup in two years’ time.
This season the LV= Cup has a big Friday night kick-off, with five matches on that first day, the pick of the bunch live on Sky Sports when the Leicester Tigers host Ospreys in the rerun of a past final.
I am particularly interested to see how Dafydd Howells fares in this season’s competition. Despite his age, Dafydd has all the attributes you would hope to see of a promising winger. He will be pitted against the next generation of Tigers, who will be keen to set down a marker at Welford Road in front of what is certain to be a big crowd.
The opening round of games sees some big matches, and will undoubtedly set the tournament up to be another cracker. It is a chance for silverware, so the cup mentality will be there from the off. I was very impressed with the matches I saw in the competition last season and especially the final, which was a fitting climax to a great tournament. This year the final will be at Sandy Park, Exeter, a stadium that will grace the Rugby World Cup in two years’ time, alongside some of the players on show this season.
Lewis Moody’s four LV= Cup players to watch
Luke Cowan-Dickie – Exeter Chiefs
Dafydd Howells – Ospreys
Charlie Walker – Harlequins
Owen Williams – Leicester Tigers