Four players to light up the autumn: Maro Itoje can be the man to fire up England while Malcolm Marx is a one man army for South Africa at hooker
- Preparations for the World Cup ramp up in November’s autumn internationals
- England face four tough home games at Twickenham starting with South Africa
- Grand Slam winners Ireland, meanwhile will be looking to put down a marker too
- Sportsmail’s Clive Woodward picks four players to watch over the next month
- England’s Maro Itoje could be the man to fire up a severely depleted pack
The countdown to the World Cup in Japan is on, with a host of top rugby nations in action next month for the autumn internationals.
England’s credentials will come under serious scrutiny when they face the likes of South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham, while Grand Slam winners Ireland will also be looking to put down a marker against southern Hemisphere opposition.
Sportsmail columnist Clive Woodward names four players to watch during the upcoming Tests.
England’s Maro Itoje (pictured) could be the man to fire up a severely depleted pack
MARO ITOJE (lock/back row, England)
Age 23 Caps 22
Beginning to light it up again with Saracens, this time at blindside wing forward which is where I hope Eddie Jones starts him. He’s the man to fire up the England pack in Billy Vunipola’s absence.
An injury crisis means Itoje will carry more responsibility during the autumn internationals
BRODIE RETALLICK (lock, New Zealand)
Age 27 Caps 72
Magnificent lock, great athlete, intimidating physical presence and superb all-round skills. You will notice that New Zealand’s rare defeats often coincide with his absence!
New Zealand rarely lose when towering lock Brodie Retallick (centre) is in action
MALCOLM MARX (hooker, South Africa)
Age 24 Caps 20
A one man army at hooker with the strength and scrummaging power of John Smit and the pace and footballing ability of Schalk Brits. Not just the best hooker in the world, one of the best forwards full-stop.
Malcolm Marx is a force of nature for South Africa from hooker and one of the best in the world
ISRAEL FOLAU (full-back, Australia)
Age 29 Caps 70
Was on fire last year, much quieter this year and sometimes a forlorn figure on the wing.
At his best he is a sensational full-back, which is where I want to see him operating in November.
At his best, Australia’s Israel Folau (front) is a sensational full-back on the international stage
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