May 31, 2012
Jonathan Joseph shone for England on Sunday - will he get his chance to impress in South Africa? © PA Photos
The June international window could serve as the launch pad for numer of Test careers with several fresh faces looking to make a name for themselves. There are no harder places to contest a Test series than the southern hemisphere and for some it will be the first time they pull on their national jersey. With this in mind, this week's Scrum Sevens runs the rule over seven uncapped players who we think will make the most of their opportunity.
Beauden Barrett - New Zealand
Although Dan Carter seems to have the fly-half spot sewn up, Barrett will take heart from the fact that DC has been moved to inside centre at times for the Crusaders this term. Barrett has been one of the standout half-backs on show in this year's Super Rugby competition, alongside team-mate TJ Perenera and together they destroyed the Melbourne Rebels at the weekend. He has progressed through the age groups, also turning out for New Zealand at Sevens level, but now he is solely focused on Test recognition. While Aaron Cruden is perhaps ahead of him in the rankings, Barrett's introduction to international life could not have got much better when he received news of who he was rooming with in the All Blacks camp - one Mr Carter.
Ashley Beck - Wales
We tipped him to make an impact for Wales ahead of the Six Nations but Jamie Roberts returned to fitness just in time. Now with Roberts sidelined and Jonathan Davies also struggling, it looks like Beck will definitely feature for Rob Howley's side at some point on their tour of Australia. He starred against Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 final on Sunday - scoring the Ospreys' first try - and is equally solid in defence. While Australia boast an impressive backline, Beck has already gone toe-to-toe with Europe's best so do not expect him to get stage fright on one of the southern hemisphere's biggest stages.
Eben Etzebeth - South Africa
Standing at 6'8", Etzebeth is a giant of a second-row, and he's just 20-years-old. This time last year he was playing University rugby but he has since made a name for himself with the Stormers. He is a powerful unit with good hands and with the likes of Victor Matfield retiring and Bakkies Botha over in Toulon, Etzebeth looks to be nailed on to start the first Test against England on June 9.
Jonathan Joseph - England
The London Irish centre made his England senior debut against the Barbarians on Sunday and excelled in his 30 minute cameo off the bench. While winger Chris Ashton took the headlines for his hat-trick, Joseph's performance received special praise from mentor Mike Catt who said: "He's put his hand up and we want competition in the squad. He's impressed and we'll have to look at selection". Manu Tuilagi looked out of sorts for Leicester in the Aviva Premiership final so do not bet against Joseph being a surprise name in the squad for England's first Test against the Springboks.
Eben Etzebeth plucks a high ball for the Stormers © PA Photos
Jesse Mogg - Australia
International rugby is about taking your chances if and when you get them. Injuries to James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale have potentially paved the way for Mogg to make his Test debut when the Wallabies tackle Scotland on June 5. Aged 22, Mogg was playing in Canberra's first grade competition for Wests last year and was even contemplating turning to another career other than rugby. But just a few months on and the talented fullback is considered one of the leading lights in an increasingly impressive Brumbies side and he has clearly benefitted from the coaching of Stephen Larkham. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has named a side laden with fresh faces and Mogg looks set to be one of those to benefit from the post-World Cup renaissance.
Tim Visser - Scotland
The flying Dutchman is on the verge of qualifying for Scotland on residency grounds and has been fast-tracked into Andy Robinson's squad in the hope he can add some much-needed fire-power. With an incredible try-scoring record for Edinburgh in the RaboDirect PRO12 - that has seen him touch down 43 times in 74 appearances - Visser will add an exciting dimension to an otherwise floundering side that went four games without crossing the whitewash last season. It will be hoped that Visser can keep the scoreboard ticking over but he will be absent for their Test against the Wallabies as his residency will not have kicked. However, expect him to be given the nod and make a significant impact against Samoa and Tonga.
Simon Zebo- Ireland
Ulster's Craig Gilroy can perhaps count himself unlucky to have not made the squad for the tour to New Zealand after scoring twice against the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, with Munster's Simon Zebo set to profit from his rival's misfortune. Zebo also scored against the Baa Baas and has been an impressive figure throughout this season for his Irish province. Blessed with blistering pace and a solid sidestep, Zebo may just be a bolter in the Ireland XV for their opening match against the All Blacks on June 9. He has already proved his enviable ability in the Heineken Cup with a hat-trick against Northampton so expect him to push on in New Zealand - if given the nod.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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