Ten Players to Watch at the Rugby World Cup

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess plays in the England v Ireland match at Twickenham Stadium, London on September 5, 2015. Henry Browne/Reuters

The 2015 Rugby World Cup starts on Friday, lasting until the final on October 31. 20 international teams from across the world take part. This will be the eighth time teams will compete for the Webb Ellis Cup.

Every four years the World Cup witnesses a number of standouts who comes to define the tournament: Jonah Lomu in 1995, Jonny Wilkinson in 2003 and Bryan Habana in 2007.

Here, Newsweek looks at 10 players that have the potential to provide something special at this year's world cup.

Sam Burgess

Burgess, 26 (pictured above), made the move from Rugby League only nine months ago, but has impressed England coach Stuart Lancaster enough for a start in the World Cup opening game against Fiji. No one can deny that the center is a strong and skillful tackler. He is worth a watch to see if he can prove those who labeled his call-up a gamble wrong.

Nehe Milner-Skudder
New Zealand All Blacks' Nehe Milner-Skudder scores his first try during his Bledisloe Cup rugby match against Australia's Wallabies in Sydney August 8, 2015. David Gray/Reuters

Nehe Milner Skudder

The 24-year-old New Zealand fullback is already being backed by many to score the most tries at this year's tournament, despite only having appeared twice before for the All-Blacks. The rookie, who can also play on the wing, will join a very experienced New Zealand squad who are favourites ahead of England to win the tournament.

Leone Nakarawa
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (L) tackles Fiji's Leone Nakarawa during their Rugby World Cup Pool D match at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton October 2, 2011. Nigel Marple/Reuters

Leone Nakarawa

The big Fijian—standing 6ft6in tall—will be ready to face England at the tournament's opener on Friday night. Nakarawa, 27, who plays club rugby for the Glasgow Warriors in second-row, stood out at this year's Guinness Pro12 final when his club were victorious over Munster. The strong all-rounder could cause an upset against rivals in the so-called group of death.

Jesse Kriel
South Africa's Jesse Kriel (2nd R) runs to score a try against the New Zealand All Blacks during their Rugby Championship match at Emirates Airline Park Stadium in Johannesburg July 25, 2015. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Jesse Kriel

South African Kriel, 21, seared his name into the minds of many rugby fans after scoring an exquisite try against Australia earlier this summer after only being on the pitch for two minutes. The young Springbok will make use of his speed, agility and ball-handling at the tournament.

George North
Wales' George North runs with the ball to score a try against Italy during their Six Nations Rugby Union match at the Olympic stadium in Rome, March 21, 2015. Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

George North

With 51 Wales appearances to his name, the 23-year-old will be hoping to help carry his team far at the World Cup. North is whippet-quick—his 40-metre sprint time comes just 0.32 seconds short of Olympic sprinter, Usain Bolt.

Israel Folau
Australia's Wallabies' Israel Folau (C) is tackled by New Zealand's All Blacks' Julian Savea (L) and Ben Smith during their Bledisloe Cup rugby match in Sydney August 8, 2015. David Gray/Reuters

Israel Folau

Another former League player, Australian fullback Folau has provided some great moments in Rugby Union since 2012. He is likely to shine in attack, as he has proven his play in this position to be formidable.

Henry Slade
Henry Slade (2nd L) of England surges past Juan Martin Hernandez (L) of the Barbarians to score a try during their rugby match at Twickenham in London, June 1, 2014. Andrew Winning/Reuters

Henry Slade

A wildcard choice, 22-year-old Slade was a shock call-up to the England squad announced at the end of August. The young centre has impressed at his club, Exeter, and will hope to continue in his role as a dynamic playmaker when he gets the chance.

Gael Fickou
Gael Fickou of France is taken by two Italy players, March 15, 2015. Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Gael Fickou

His athleticism has been compared to Kiwi legend Sonny Bill Williams. Following this sizable comparison, the 21-year-old Frenchman will hope to assert himself at the World Cup.

Stuart Hogg
Scotland's Stuart Hogg scores a try against Wales during their Six Nations rugby union match at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland, February 15, 2015. Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Stuart Hogg

The fullback had a strong Six Nations tournament earlier this year, covering the most ground and beating the most defenders, despite Scotland coming second to last. Hogg will be hoping to silence any speculation that the Scots don't have a chance to progress through the group stages at a tournament being staged so close to home.

Scott Sio
Australia's Wallabies lock James Horwill (C) reacts with teammates including Scott Sio (R) after a controversial try by Tevita Kuridrani was allowed, giving them a last minute win against South Africa's Springboks in their Rugby championship match in Brisbane, July 18, 2015. Jason Reed/Reuters

Scott Sio

Australian coaches have been training the prop over the last few months so he can provide cover as a hooker in the Wallabies squad. Keep an eye out for 23-year-old Sio as he makes impact in and out of his usual position.