"The guy is just a freak" - 6 to watch at the Rugby World Cup
"He's one of the guys that could be a star at the World Cup."
The 2019 World Cup is upon us and we will all be raving about established pros and rising stars over the coming weeks and months.
Ireland get their World Cup campaign underway against Scotland, on Sunday, while the stand-out game of the weekend is surely New Zealand versus South Africa.
Ahead of the tournament launch, Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery got together for a big World Cup preview as part of a Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby special.
During the show [from 48:00] the lads named five players to watch while there was a shout-out for an Irish star too.
"Bill Mata is one of the guys that could be a star at the World Cup because he's going to get ball, all the time," says Jerry Flannery. "Because he's playing at 8, he's going to get ball off the base of the scrum, he's going to be used for all their restarts and he's going to be running it back, because the guy is just a freak."
The former Munster and Ireland star also name-checked six of Viliame 'Bill' Mata's Fijian teammates - Semi Radradra, Levani Botia, Josua Tuisova, Leone Nakarawa, Nikola Matawalu and Ben Volavola.
"When you are prepping for a team," says Flannery, "there are usually one or two guys you really look out for, but Fiji have about nine of them.
"And it's just whether they can come together, be aligned and be fit enough, and whether they can actually manage games. Because they can break a game open. It's funny because when I watched them against Japan, they actually scored two maul tries... but the Japanese played at a tempo that Fiji couldn't live with."
The other players Trimble and Flannery spoke about were Australian centre Samu Kerevi and the English trio of Manu Tuilagi, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Closer to home, the likes of Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose and Jacob Stockdale were all mentioned as potential game-breakers. During James Lowe's visit to the House of Rugby studio, there was an interesting chat about Joey Carbery, who will hope to be involved against either the Scots or Japan.
On the involvement of his former Leinster teammate in Japan, Lowe said:
"I so hope he can come back and be world-class again. "I do wish the best for him, even though he ran West to Munster!"
Flannery loves the idea of Carbery being used as a second ball-player in the backline, even if he can be sprung from the bench to change up Ireland's attacking style. "He was phenomenal against Italy (in August)," Flannery declares. "His ability to move across the line and just drop the ball... his transfer time on his passes and kicks is class."
"Working with Joey," he adds, "we'd be coming up with mates and saying, 'This is something the opposition are doing here and we're seeing that if we stretch them across the line here, and their tail-gunner shoots out, this option could be on'. Some players will look at it and think that's their only option - they only see the negative - but Joey's not like that. He sees everything."
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The latest episode sees Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look ahead to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.