|Rugby World Cup 2019|
|Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September-2 November|
|Coverage: Live commentary on every game on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, with live text commentary on selected games on the BBC Sport website and app|
If Japan 2019 is providing the stage, which players are going to step out of the chorus line to be the main protagonists?
Who are the bolters, the shooting stars, the headline-makers-to-be?
Chris Ashton and Danny Care, with 128 England caps between them, could easily have been contending for the prize roles.
Instead though they will be analysing the tournament as part of the Rugby Union Weekly team.
Before the big kick-off, the pair have picked out six players to watch, with Chris selecting a trio of fellow wings and Danny choosing a crop of stellar scrum-halves.
First, the gas merchants out wide….
Josua Tuisova – Fiji
Chris Ashton: “I played with him in Toulon in France and he was someone I went to every game.
“I knew with his off-loading game I would always get the ball back off him and have a chance to score. I would just move inside him and wait for him to bump three lads off and give me the ball.
“He is a man mountain. I have never seen someone with so much muscle strapped to them. Socks wouldn’t actually fit him. He had to cut them off and wear like tennis socks because he couldn’t get them over his calves.”
Danny Care: “He is up there with my favourite players to watch because he is not your typical rugby union player. He is fairly short, but just stacked.
“He reminds be a bit of Fiji legend Rupeni Caucaunibuca back in the day. He just gets the ball, causes carnage and likes to hurt people.”
Alivereti Raka – France
CA: “When I had the unfortunate time of playing against him, I ended up getting the nickname, ‘Mike Catt’. He ran over me about four times just like Jonah Lomu did to Catt at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
“He can run round you, over you, hand you off, chip it though your legs, you just don’t know what is coming.
“He has ripped up the Top 14 playing for Clermont and France have been using him in all the right places. It is really going to be good to see him go in international rugby.
“I think he is going to set this World Cup alight.”
DC: “He was just on fire against Saracens a couple of years back, scoring a hat-trick, and speaking to Jamie George afterwards he said that they had never experienced a player like it. They just couldn’t get hold of him.”
Jonny May – England
CA: “He has been England’s best finisher for a good few years now. Head coach Eddie Jones really likes him.
“He has not played loads in the warm-up games, but you can see that he is really keen and had lots of energy to get in the game.
“His aerial skills are excellent. He regains more box-kicks back than he loses and that is an invaluable asset for the way that England want to play the game.
“Jonny is a go-to man for Eddie Jones, who has put him in some of the leadership groups. I don’t know how comfortable Jonny is with that sort of thing though!”
DC: “It is mad to think about how he is in these leadership meetings when we both know how weird he is!
“We had a trip in Argentina two years ago with England and we made a rule that any bit of kit left around will go to auction on the bus. He loves his basic digital watch and it came up twice for auction.
“He paid £200 to get it back the first time, and then £250 on the second time. So we took £450 off him for a watch that was probably worth £20.”
And now Danny’s pick of the number nines…
Antoine Dupont – France
DC: “This 22-year-old has changed the way that France are playing. He backs himself, he is seriously quick, he is strong, he likes to score tries. I think if the French are to surprise people in this tournament, then he has a big part to play.
“I think he is a potential player of the tournament. He is special.”
CA: “I came across him a few times when I was playing in France and he is deceptively strong for his height.
“If he is caught, he usually manages to get an offload away to keep his team going forward. I am glad to see the French putting some trust in him.”
Aaron Smith – New Zealand
DC: “For me, Aaron Smith is probably the best scrum-half in the world at the moment.
“He makes New Zealand tick with his tempo, enthusiasm and energy. He is the heartbeat of that side. He has the best pass in world rugby as well. He absolutely fizzes it despite having quite small hands. It is a perfect spiral every time.
“In the loose, he runs those support lines as well to make the extra man and help himself to a fair few tries.”
CA: “That pass is sexy. Why is yours not that tight Danny?”
Faf de Klerk – South Africa
DC: “He is representing the small guys in world rugby, but he punches well above his weight.
“I love playing against him and watching him play. He is really feisty and likes getting stuck in. If South Africa are to go all the way, he will be pivotal.”
CA: “He is the biggest ball of energy that I have come across in a while.
“At Sale, in gym sessions he will cartwheel in, throw a ball at someone’s head, drop and do 10 press-ups.
“He is just constantly up and down, all day, non-stop. And he plays the same. He is just out of the box, coming rushing up into the defensive line, shutting down big forwards.
“He is a completely unusual nine and we are very lucky to have him.”