Breakout Players: Backs

Ollie Lawrence England Italy
The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is the perfect platform for players to make a big impact on the international stage.

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is the perfect platform for players to make a big impact on the international stage.

Several stars have put their hands up over the last two weeks, eager to cement their place in their nation’s starting XV.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the breakout backs from rounds one and two of Rugby’s Greatest Championship.

Stuart McCloskey

Ireland centre Stuart McCloskey has been starring for Ulster for several years, but over the last two weeks has truly introduced himself on the international stage.

Despite being 30 years old, McCloskey still only has 11 caps to his name, but he has been a consistent performer in Andy Farrell’s back line so far, making nine carries and eight tackles in Ireland’s Round 1 win against Wales.

He backed that up with another strong display against France, showing he can go toe-to-toe with some of the best backs the northern hemisphere has to offer.

His age means he may not fit the profile of a traditional ‘breakout star’, but few players have made a bigger splash than McCloskey in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Ollie Lawrence

Ollie Lawrence has been a powerhouse for Worcester Warriors and Bath Rugby for some time but failed to cement himself in Eddie Jones’ starting XV since making his international debut.

Not any more though.

The centre made a brief cameo against Scotland, but he showed what he can do in England’s win against Italy in Round 2.

He was a constant threat at Twickenham, highlighting his power as he knocked Tommaso Allan into next week during one of his 11 carries.

He made 83 metres with the ball and was also solid in defence, making eight hits during the game.

With four games left to play in Rugby’s Greatest Championship, fans can expect to see a lot more of Lawrence.

Ben White

Ben White only had nine caps to his name heading into the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, well behind Ali Price in Scotland’s scrum-half pecking order.

However, the London Irish star has been sensational for Gregor Townsend’s team in the opening two rounds of the Championship.

He scored against England in Round 1, slipping through the tackle of Ben Curry before stepping Freddie Steward to get over.

And he was brilliant against Wales, setting a lightning-fast tempo that the likes of Finn Russell and Duhan van der Merwe thrived off.

Ethan Dumortier

Ireland against France was a game of the highest quality, and despite only having two caps to his name, Ethan Dumortier looked right at home.

The 22-year-old winger caused havoc throughout the game, showing off his evasiveness with the ball as well as his ridiculous pace.

Dumortier’s balance is unbelievable, and he has the skillset to bamboozle even the best defenders.

The winger also scored in Round 1, expertly collecting Romain Ntamack’s cross-field kick.

Rio Dyer

Wales have struggled in the opening two rounds of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, but Rio Dyer has shown what Warren Gatland’s second stint as head coach could hold.

The winger has looked threatening every time the ball has been put in his hands.

He made the second-most metres of any Wales player in the Round 1 defeat against Ireland.

Dyer followed that up with a solid display against Scotland, registering another 90 metres with the ball in hand.

Wales’ young stars have been one of the big positives of rounds one and two, and Dyer is leading the way.

Tommaso Menoncello

At just 20 years old, Tommaso Menoncello has a bright future ahead of him.

The young winger has shown he has an enviable all-around game in the first two rounds of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

He was solid against France, doing well to make 38 metres across five carries against an aggressive Shaun Edwards defence.

And then he put on an impressive display against England, making seven tackles.

He was also a threat every time he got the ball, gaining 33 metres in just three carries and has a bright future as a key Italy player.

Long-term, the only question is whether he plays on the wing or in the centres.