The new season is a chance for the northern hemisphere’s best centres to dazzle fans with their pace, power and skill.
The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is just around the corner, and the Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Top 14 and United Rugby Championship are already underway.
So, with that in mind let’s take a look at the centres that are set to stun fans in the latest instalment of Rugby’s Greatest Championship and beyond.
1. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
At 29 years old and with 60 international caps to his name, Robbie Henshaw is at the peak of his powers.
The Leinster star enjoyed a sensational summer with Ireland, helping Andy Farrell’s side to a 2-1 series win over the All Blacks, their first-ever in New Zealand.
The inside centre was a threat in attack, playing 80 minutes at 12 in all three games and scoring a crucial try in the decisive third Test.
He’s also enjoyed an exciting start to his club campaign, playing 80 minutes in wins over Benetton Rugby and Ulster Rugby.
Leinster are currently top of the United Rugby Championship after three games, while Ireland are ranked first in the World Rugby Rankings.
And that is thanks, in part, to Henshaw and his exploits in both back lines.
2. Jonathan Danty (France)
Between injuries and retirements, France have seen their centre stocks thinned considerably so far this season but one man has maintained a remarkable level throughout.
La Rochelle powerhouse Jonathan Danty has established himself as one of the key men for Les Bleus, first during a summer tour to Australia in 2021 when many key men were rested, continuing in the role when the big guns returned.
As well as the obvious threat he poses with ball in hand, Danty is also among the very best in the world in his position at the breakdown, adding an important dimension to France’s game without the ball.
Impressive displays for La Rochelle to start the new Top 14 campaign have been a reminder of just how valuable a player he is, and why he will likely start alongside Gaël Fickou in the Autumn Nations Series.
3. Manu Tuilagi (England)
Manu Tuilagi is back and better than ever.
The Sale Sharks star has started every league game so far this season for his club after a spell on the sidelines through injury.
He has looked physically dominant as always, and now the inside centre is targeting a return to Eddie Jones’ starting XV with England.
Jones is used to having to work around Tuilagi’s fitness, with the 31-year-old’s last international appearance coming when he scored barely five minutes into victory over South Africa, only to be forced off immediately afterwards.
But England’s Australian head coach has also made it perfectly clear that when Tuilagi is fit, he plays.
And fans will be delighted at the prospect of having the human bulldozer back on the international stage.
4. Nick Tompkins (Wales)
Wales and Saracens’ Nick Tompkins spent 2022 solidifying himself as Wales’ first choice inside centre.
The back has been crucial to his club side’s resurgence in the Gallagher Premiership over the last 12 months, starting in last year’s final.
He’s started the domestic season well, scoring in his side’s opener against Harlequins.
Tompkins may have missed Rounds 2 and 3, but he made a rampaging return to the team in Saracens’ 51-18 win over defending champions Leicester Tigers.
The 27-year-old had a challenging summer with Wales, playing in all three Tests against South Africa.
Wayne Pivac’s side may have fallen to a 2-1 series defeat against the Springboks, but Tompkins can be proud of his three solid performances.
5. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
Garry Ringrose has partnered Henshaw at outside centre for both Leinster and Ireland this year.
Two years younger than his centre partner, Ringrose has 44 Ireland caps to his name after a history-making year with club and country.
He was Ireland’s best player as they lost against New Zealand in the first Test of the historic summer series.
And despite not scoring in Ireland’s two wins over the All Blacks, he provided a crucial attacking threat that created plenty of space and front foot ball for his teammates.
He has also been a key player for Leinster, and even showed his versatility last weekend by coming off the bench to star on the wing in a victory over the Sharks.
There was a case to include Gaël Fickou on this list, and possibly at the very top, but he only made his return from injury this weekend – doing so with a try. Young teammate Yoram Moefana is also in flying form and had a strong case. In Scotland, Sione Tuipulotu might be the pick of the multiple contenders for a starting role, while a third Ireland candidate, Stuart McCloskey, has started the season in remarkable form. The return from injury of George North has been particularly welcome, while Italy and Benetton star Juan Ignacio Brex has been key to the Italian side’s strong start to the United Rugby Championship. Last but not least, Owen Farrell has been largely playing at 10 for Saracens, but will be keen to show what he can do in the centres in the autumn in combination with Marcus Smith.