Who will be the outstanding player at the World Cup? Posted about 5 years ago


Photo: Jeanfrancois Beausejour, Monaco

So who will be the outstanding player at the World Cup?

Yes, I know we have barely started, but it’s a bit too easy to call these things on the day after the final. So let’s try to make a few predictions now and see who lasts the distance.

When the tournament is over we will get all of our coach and player contributors to nominate their stand-out player. Anyone who agreed with their selection and has a good reason for their pick will go into the draw to win free coaching modules (there will be spot prizes for interesting selections and reasons!).

Here are a few early thoughts after the first week of tournament play. Very often, although not always, the leading player tends to be on the winning team. The romantic in me hopes that a Canadian or a Namibian might be the man in 2011, but I suspect it’s not going to happen.

Jerome Kaino has a chance of going the distance. He was outstanding against Tonga, just as he had been in the All Blacks first Tri Nations match against Australia. He hits hard, he is athletic and he gets New Zealand onto the front foot.

James Horwill keeps driving the Aussies. He was voted man of the match against Italy and has never played better. Horwill is proving to be some leader and we like him at The Rugby Site because he is one of those guys who is a ridiculous over achiever. He is not as skilful as many, but he is more intelligent and has plenty of ticker, intestinal fortitude, choose your language.

The at times ludicrous James O’Connor was also massively influential when he came on. He may have some growing up to do off the pitch, but he could just become one of the great Wallabies in the next few years. Digby Ioane also looked like a star, but he is out for a few games now with injury.

Sam Warburton, the Wales captain, had a terrific match against a very good South African back row. He would probably never make it on the veldt because of his size, but South Africa’s John Smit was hugely complimentary after the game. The Rugby Site contributor Bismarck du Plessis changed the match when he came on, but will he get enough playing time to make the final vote?

Romania’s loosehead prop Mariaita Lazar and their hooker Marius Tincu were both terrific against Scotland, but it is noticeable how many forwards have been in the mix so far. We have yet to see any centres really tear it up. Maybe Fiji will produce something on Saturday as they so often seem to at the World Cup.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Obvious is fine, but a few obscure mentions would also pique our interest. The minnows have been a feature of the World Cup so far and we want to feature them. So get nominating and enter your picks in the comments box below to be into win!

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Mark Reason has been a sports journalist for over 25 years. He currently works for Fairfax Media and will also be part of the Telegraph's World Cup team and a regular panellist on Radio New Zealand during the World Cup. He has covered every Rugby World Cup since 1991, the 2000 and 2008 Olympics, over 40 golf major championships, the FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a lot of other stuff he can't remember. Mark emigrated to New Zealand in 2010 having spent over 20 years covering sport for the Telegraph and Sunday Times in Britain.

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