Timo Swiel, (age 19, fly-half /fullback), Western Province, Vodacom Cup
Timo Swiel’s youtube montage alone is enough to elicit grand prognostications for his future rugby career. Blessed with pace, vision and poise, Swiel is a mouth-watering prospect. His performances on tape suggest that Swiel has the flair of a Kurtley Beale and the explosion of a Christian Cullen – extremely high praise that the Scout rarely gives. Swiel was considered unlucky not to make the initial Stormers squad for the Super Rugby season but the Vodacom Cup seems the perfect platform for him to showcase his talents. English fans should also take note; whispers from the African continent suggest that Swiel will reject a place in the Springboks under-20 side in order to maintain his English eligibility.
Santiago Cordero, (age 19, fullback), Pampas XV, Vodacom Cup
Cordero caught the eye with a number of scintillating performances at last year’s Junior World Championship which were made all the more impressive when one considered that Cordero was only 18 at the time. He then performed outstandingly at the Gold Coast sevens which resulted in a call up to the Argentinian national side for their European tour at the end of last year. Cordero is the most exciting Argentinian talent since Hernandez was making a similar impact more than a decade ago. He has incredible speed and a great step but does seem quite undersized (at the moment) for the rigors of international rugby. He is one of the main reasons hardcore rugby fans should keep an eye on the Vodacom Cup this year.
Yoshikazu Fujita, (age 19, wing), Waseda University, Japan University Competition
Fujita burst onto the international scene in style by bagging himself 6 tries against a clearly overmatched UAE side. Fujita honed his skills at St Bede’s College’s international rugby academy in Christchurch New Zealand where he set the Crusaders region schools competition alight. Eddie Jones has been quick to point out that Fujita is far from the finished article and he does need to work on improving his high-end speed. However, natural rugby talent like Fujita’s is rare and even rarer for Japan, so he is likely to be a name we hear a lot more of in the future.
Tevita Li, (age 17, wing) Blues development, New Zealand development league
Tevita Li is already making a name for himself with exceptional performances in all forms of the game. He was supremely impressive at the New Zealand national sevens in January but his young age ruled him out for New Zealand selection on the sevens tour. In the meantime, the 17-year-old Li has to make do with playing for the Blues development team and by the looks of his first game against the Crusaders development side, he has taken to it like a duck to water. Li’s size and finishing ability are extraordinary for someone his age and the fact he is still probably two years away from representing New Zealand at the under 20 World Championships reinforces the ‘freak of nature’ Li is.
Marco Mama, (age 21, backrow) Bristol, RFU Championship
The Zimbabwean has been a revelation for Bristol in the two seasons he has been playing there, making himself a lynchpin in their quest to reach the Aviva Premiership. According to the Bristol faithful, Mama has consistently shown a good aptitude at the core tasks of an openside flanker (he has also played no.8), such as high work-rate and fetching ability, but has also developed an attacking game which has manifested itself in a number of tries and line-breaks. It would seem that Mama’s future lies beyond the second tier of English rugby, whether this is with Bristol or somewhere else, only time will tell.