Rugby World Cup
Players who will light up 2019 Rugby World Cup
Tom Hamilton
November 3, 2015
Are New Zealand the best team ever?

With the dust barely settled on the Rugby World Cup, we have taken the bold step of predicting which players we will be talking about in four years' time when Japan 2019 rolls around.

15 Liam Williams (Wales)

Liam Williams
Liam Williams© Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Wales fullback-come-winger has had a wretched run of injuries but if he manages to wrap himself in cotton wool over the next few seasons, he will establish himself as one of the world's finest players.

14 Santiago Cordero (Argentina)

© Stu Forster/Getty Images

Before the first ball of the World Cup was kicked in anger, Cordero was the Pumas' fifth-choice winger. But his three tries and especially his performance against Ireland saw him emerge as one of the stars of the tournament. His potential is frightening.

13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa)

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Again another who can play across the backline and has already filled in at fullback for the Springboks. Heyneke Meyer sees his long-term future at outside centre and with more game time in the No.13 shirt, Kriel will only improve.

12 Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand)

Malakai Fekitoa
Malakai Fekitoa© Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

With the great Ma'a Nonu hanging up his All Black boots, Fekitoa is the heir apparent to the No.12 jersey. He was included in their squad for the World Cup just gone but found his gametime limited due to the sizeable presence of Nonu. Steve Hansen namechecked him as a potential star of the future, though, and he will be targeting that first choice spot. Wales' Owen Watkin is also worth keeping an eye on as is New Zealand's Rieko Ioane.

11 Tevita Li (New Zealand)

© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

New Zealand are blessed with an abundance of riches on the flanks. Their three wingers in this World Cup - Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea and Waiseke Naholo - should all be around in 2019 but Li could join them. He scored six tries in the 2015 Junior World Championships and is a star in waiting.

10 George Ford (England)

George Ford versus Scotland
George Ford versus Scotland© David Rogers, Getty Images

He possesses a box of tricks that few other No.10s in the world can boast. He is only 22 but should be England's first-choice fly-half from now through to the 2019 tournament. New Zealand's Lima Sopoaga will also only get better.

9 Vasil Lobzhanidze (Georgia)

Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze
Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze© Stu Forster/Getty Images

He now holds the honour of being the youngest player to ever appear in a World Cup. Georgia are renowned for boasting a fearsome pack of forwards but this scrum-half bucks the trend and will only grow in ability as the years tick on.

1 Titi Lamositele (USA)

Titi Lamositele
Titi Lamositele© Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

The USA Eagles prop can cover either side of the front-row. He is perhaps the hottest prospect in the USA team's ranks and as the game continues to develop in the States, so too will talents like Lamositele. He is currently on Saracens' books. Future Springbok Thomas du Toit should also feature in the 2019 competition.

2 Julian Montoya (Argentina)

© (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)

With Argentina now boasting a Super Rugby franchise, the younger players in their team will all get to play some of the world's best talent week in, week out. Montoya played in all seven of the Pumas' matches in the recent World Cup and has all the attributes to be a fantastic hooker.

3 Paul Hill (England)

Paul Hill
Paul Hill© Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Now at Northampton Saints, Hill is regarded as a star tight-head of the future. Under the tutelage of Dorian West at the Saints his technique will improve and he is already on the England radar having shone in the age grades.

4 Iain Henderson (Ireland)

© Michael Steele/Getty Images

The Ulster lock will be 27 in the next World Cup and looks to be the man who will step into the sizeable void left by Paul O'Connell. He was one of their stars of the past World Cup and his stock will only rise. The same goes for South Africa's Lood de Jager who came of age in England.

5 Maro Itoje (England)

Maro Itoje celebrates
Maro Itoje celebrates© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It is a rare occurrence to sit down with a young player and the conversation starts on the various intricacies of African politics and then turns to poetry. Itoje was included in England's 51-man squad ahead of the World Cup but was one of the first to get culled. He is mooted as an England captain in waiting and you can bet your mortgage he will be in the 2019 mix. Argentina's Matias Alemanno is also worthy of note.

6 Sekou Macalou (France)


The back-rower is the favourite to step into the ageing shoes of Yannick Nyanga and Thierry Dusautoir. He had an impressive Junior World Championships last summer and will push on at Stade Francais this season.

7 Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

© (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Even the great Richie McCaw is unlikely to manage four more years in the All Black seven jersey and while Sam Cane is the incumbent, Ardie Savea will also surely feature in the Kiwi's 2019 group. He is the younger brother of Julian and boasts similar pace. England are also very excited about Harlequins' Jack Clifford as a future Test openside.

8 Akira Ioane (New Zealand)

© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Like the Saveas, the Ioanes could also have two brothers in the 2019 World Cup squad. Akira is the older brother of Rieko but is a pacey back-rower with a grounding in Sevens. He has been capped by the NZ Maoris and should prosper under the wing of Kieran Read.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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