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Top Five Young Rugby Players to Watch This Year

With the IRB Rugby World Cup this September, casts an eye on the players to look out for in what could be the biggest year for rugby yet.

With the IRB Rugby World Cup this September, casts an eye on the players to look out for in what could be the biggest year for rugby yet.

With the IRB Rugby World Cup on the horizon, television coverage increasing and more rugby being played than ever before, 2015 will be a landmark year for this relatively young professional sport.

Teamwork is the key to success in rugby, but there is plenty room for the individual to shine. We've picked out five young players to watch this year. Some will be making their professional debut; while many will play a crucial role in their nation's hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup this September.

Maro Itoje

Age: 20 Nation: England Club: Saracens Position: Flanker/Lock Height: 1.95m Weight: 110 kg

Maro Itoje caught the watchful eye of England Coach, Stuart Lancaster, aged 17 and has since developed into one of England's brightest prospects.

A natural leader, Itoje led the England U20's Squad to glory in the Junior World Cup, picking up many personal accolades along the way. In the 2014 U20s 6 Nations, Itoje scored a try in every game; the kind of impact many players dream of. This year he has led Saracens to glory in the LV= Cup as Captain.

He's yet to be called up to the senior squad but it seems only a matter of time. Don't be surprised to see him included in the extended England squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Cameron Skelton

Age: 19 Nation: Born in New Zealand, eligible for NZ, Australian and Samoan Rugby Club: Waikato Chiefs Position: Lock Height: 2.07m Weight: 153 kg

One of the most sought after young players in the world, Cameron Skelton (brother to Wallabies star Will Skelton) will soon be a recognisable figure and not just because of his stature.

He may not yet be the viral sensation of another young, impossibly big, up and coming rugby player but Cameron Skelton has a few years on the 'Tongan Thor' Taniela Tupou and a fair few inches.

Currently training with the Chiefs in New Zealand, Skelton will face some tough decisions as his career unfolds; the young giant is eligible for 3 World Cup contending teams. Will he play alongside his brother in an immense Australian pack, or will the lure of the All Blacks take him to NZ?

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne

Age: 21 Nation: Scotland Club: Edinburgh Rugby Position: Scrum Half Height: 1.75m Weight: 76kg

Positional Flexibility on the field is what makes the rising Scotland and Edinburgh Rugby star one to watch. The 21 year old is remarkably adept at playing a number of back positions that make him an easy choice for International duty. At Edinburgh Rugby he has shown his ability to kick under pressure, helping to secure a win against Connacht, and has shown flair and tenacity scoring 28 individual points against Bordeaux-Begles in the European Challenge Cup.

Hidalgo-Clyne was also a beneficiary of the prestigious John Macphail Scholarship; a fund that allows promising young Scottish players to hone their skills in New Zealand. Expect to see him making bigger waves come September.

Ardie Savea

Age: 21 Nation: New Zealand Club: Hurricanes points) Position: Openside Flanker Height: 1.9m Weight: 100 kg

Another man on the list with a famous older brother, Ardie Savea looks to be living up to the family reputation set by All Black Julian Savea. The younger brother ripped up the 7's and U20's scene, garnering the runner-up spot in the 2013 Junior Player of the Year awards, and is currently an impact sub for Super Rugby club Hurricanes.

His pace and ability to finish have made him a dangerous prospect and a favourite to be called up to the All Blacks. Potentially on the extended squad list for the Rugby World Cup but Savea will have his biggest season in Super Rugby yet in 2015.

Anthony Watson

Age: 21 Nation: England Club: Bath Position: Wing/Fullback Height: 1.88m Weight: 92 kg

Already making headlines in his first 6 Nations, Watson helped England record their impressive victory over Wales with a fantastic try. Watson is another player getting Stuart Lancaster excited, who described him as having, "all the physical attributes you need" in a player.

Currently playing at what is fast becoming the England recruiting ground, Bath, he was tipped for greatness when, in 2012, he achieved the 2nd Top Try Scorer position in the U20s 6 Nations. Now in 2015, Watson has earned his place in the England squad and barring injury will be on the team sheet for the Rugby World Cup.