Some unexpected and incredible results in the recent Round of the Rugby World Cup has made things very interesting heading into the final week of the pool stages. Tries aplenty, some massive hits, and the game’s biggest stars were all show in the first couple games, but it’s do-or-die time now, so we’ve picked seven key players that you should keep your eye on for Week 4:
DTH van der Merwe (Canada)
Canada aim to end their World Cup campaign on a high note with victory against Romania at Leicester City Stadium on Tuesday, and Canada’s speedy wing DTH van der Merwe, who has proved to be a breakout star in the tournament so far, will be looking to add some more tries to his tally. His sheer pace and line-breaking ability can’t be overlooked, and the the Romanians will need to close down this elusive paceman before it’s too late.
Frans Malherbe (South Africa)
Stormers front-rower Frans Malherbe gets his opportunity to start at tighthead prop for the Springboks. Malherbe has proved himself to be strong and steady in the scrum, and his work in the set-pieces is notable too. The 24-year-old has the chance to cement himself as a possible starter in the later stages of the tournament by delivering a consistent and noteworthy performance against the USA, whose scrum is also growing in stature with every game.
Vereniki Goneva (Fiji)
Fiji haven’t hit their potential in this Rugby World Cup, falling to the bigger nations of England, Wales, and Australia in their pool. However, they have the chance to showcase their brilliant abilities as they take on Uruguay in their final game. Outside centre Vereniki Goneva has been extremely quiet, which is strange given his mercurial nature to tear defences apart. Up against a weaker side, Fiji’s star should be able to unleash his bamboozling footwork and power on the unsuspecting Uruguayan defence.
Shalom Suniula (USA)
The USA have opted to switch out usual flyhalf Alan MacGinty (who has been superb) for Shalom Suniula. A regular star in the USA Sevens team, Suniula is a dangerous runner with some impressive passing capabilities and a sidestep that could anyone. With nothing on the line, the Eagles clearly want to play a more expansive running game against the Boks and Suniula is the man to get things going at No. 10. Keep an eye out for him.
Jacques Burger (Namibia)
There’s few who come harder than Namibian captain Jacques Burger. The frizzy-haired tackling machine will want Namibia’s World Cup campaign to go out with a bang, and he’s the player that will inspire those around him to do so. He racked up some impressive defensive stats against much bigger nations in Pool C, and he will be on the warpath with his bone-rattling hits and powerful carries against the equally physical Georgians. There’s going to be some big collisions in this game.
Telusa Veainu (Tonga)
Tonga’s primary strike weapon has been winger Telusa Veainu, who has also provided some great assists himself too. Veainu is extremely fast and sticks on the outside nicely, providing defenders something to chase. Tonga will throw everything they’ve got at the All Blacks and provide the physicality up front, but will undoubtedly stick to their running and offloading game-plan that has proven fruitful, and hopefully, Veainu will be on the end of a few of those breaks.
Sam Warburton (Wales)
Wales have a titanic clash against them on Saturday as the two dominant teams in Pool A go head-to-head. Captain Sam Warburton will be an instrumental part of the surge against Australia, who will prove a difficult match with the likes of David Pocock and Michael Hooper attacking the breakdown. Warburton will need to stand up and produce an immense performance against the two dynamic Aussie loose forwards.