Avatar photo

By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter


RWC 2023: We pick five rookies to keep an eye on in France

Young Bok star Canan Moodie is one player who could become a household name at the World Cup.


There are always new stars that hit the headlines at global tournaments and this year should be no different at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, starting on Friday.

Here we select five men who could be household names, if not already, after the tournament.

Canan Moodie (South Africa)

The South African prospect has the makings of being a Test centurion for the Springboks.

Since he announced his arrival in Test rugby with a spectacular try against the Wallabies last year in the Rugby Championship, he’s gone on to great heights, becoming an almost regular in the Bok team.

Moodie’s huge build, pace on attack and ability to read the game make him one of the most exciting young players in world rugby. The Rugby World Cup in France presents a chance for him to show what he can do on the grand stage.

Tom Hooper (Australia)

Hooper is one of the young talented players Australian coach Eddie Jones is pinning his hopes on. The flanker has embraced the weight of expectation and is determined to do well in France.

He will be making his first appearance at a global showpiece and is expected to be the Wallabies’ starting No 6 at the World Cup.

Tom Hooper
Tom Hooper of the Wallabies. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

As a giant standing at 2.08m with tremendous carrying power, Hooper is a player in the same mould as 2019 Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit. With the qualities Hooper has, he can be one of the breakout stars in this year’s World Cup.

Lorenzo Cannone (Italy)

The Benetton number eight is highly rated by the Italian national team coach Kieran Crowly. The 22-year-old is a powerful runner with the ball in hand and has good passing skills.

The position Cannone plays in was defined by Italy’s great captain Sergio Parisse, who is considered one of the best to have played the sport. The Italian number eight jersey belonged to Parisse for a long time and now Cannone has the chance to make it his own.

The Rugby World Cup in France can kick-start Cannone’s stardom.

Lorenzo Canonne
Italian rugby star Lorenzo Cannone. Picture: Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images

Tebo Abzhandadze (Georgia)

Georgia is one of the teams to watch at this year’s Rugby World Cup as they have the potential to be a real surprise package. They have made incredible progress as a unit and have the potential to reach the quarterfinals.

Key to their aspirations in France will be their starting flyhalf Tebo Abzhandadze. The France-based flyhalf is well-rounded and will want to prove that he can do it at the highest level of the game, against somee of the best No 10s in the game.

A good World Cup for the 24-year-old will be dictating play for his side and scoring points that will help them in their quest for bigger things post-tournament.

Tebo Abzhandadze
Tebo Abzhandadze of Georgia has been a star since his U20 days. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Martin Bogado (Argentina)

Bogado made his debut for Los Pumas in their 24-13 loss to the Springboks at home in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match a few weeks ago. The audition was enough to see him sneak into Michael Cheika’s 33-man squad.

Cheika has put his faith in the exciting fullback who has Super Rugby Pacific experience with the Highlanders and the player will be relishing the prospect of representing his country in France.

Bogado will likely get some Rugby World Cup action in France when the efficient Emiliano Boffelli is rested in the pool stages. He will be one to watch in the coming weeks.

Martin Bogado
Martin Bogado plays for the Highlanders. Picture: Joe Allison/Getty Images

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits