The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
The Premiership’s form full-back, Brown, 27, started the first of England’s three-Test tour of South Africa over the summer while he started the last two autumn internationals on the left wing.
The second of those, England’s breath-taking victory over New Zealand, saw Brown excel, making memorable breaks through the usual water-tight All Blacks defence.
Provided Brown can hold down a starting berth for England’s opener with Scotland, Brown should pick up from where he left off, especially considering his red-hot form for Quins of late.
FRANCE – MAXIME MACHENAUD
With Morgan Parra and Dimitri Yachvili, France are not short of talented scrum-halves but Maxime Machenaud is set to make a big impact on his RBS 6 Nations debut after playing a leading role in 2012.
Part of an experimental squad that went to Argentina, the Racing scrum-half stood out in combination with IRB World Player of the Year nominee Frederic Michalak.
The 24-year-old kept his place for France’s November Tests, starting in impressive wins over Australia and the Pumas before coming off the bench as Les Bleus completed a clean sweep against Samoa.
With Parra also looking in prime form, expect a titanic battle for a starting spot, but Machenaud’s domestic performances, in particular in Racing’s shock win at Toulon at the start of the month, could well earn him the nod and the chance to reveal himself to the wider European public.
IRELAND – DONNACHA RYAN
Donnacha Ryan has been waiting in the wings for longer than most rugby players’ international careers last.
The 29-year-old second row’s one mistake was to come from Munster, the heartland of Ireland’s second-row.
With Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan for company it is little surprise that Ryan, now 29, has had to bide his time for both club and country, although he did start in Ireland’s last two games in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations.
But the lock is more than making up for it now with a string of superb performances, returning from the tour to New Zealand as one of the few players with reputation enhanced.
The 23-cap man then followed that up with two starts against South Africa and Argentina this autumn, the latter earning him the man of the match award as he looks more and more a contender for a British & Irish Lions spot.
ITALY – LORENZO CITTADINI
For the best part of a decade Carlos Nieto and Martin Castrogiovanni have had the Italian tighthead jersey exclusively to themselves, with the Azzurri set-piece their most consistent weapon.
With Nieto now retired from international rugby, and Castrogiovanni more veteran than young buck, Treviso No.3 Cittadini has taken great leaps to becoming the next great Azzurri front row.
He featured in all three of their autumn internationals, where encouraging displays against Australia and New Zealand were founded on an impressive scrum.
And heading into the RBS 6 Nations he looks set to prove that Castrogiovanni is not the only world class tighthead at the Azzurri’s disposal.
SCOTLAND – RYAN GRANT
Grant is one of the few players to have played for three of Scotland’s professional teams, having started out at the now defunct Border Reivers before heading to Edinburgh and then finally finding his feet at Glasgow.
The 27-year-old’s recent form for the Warriors – helping them to the Celtic League semi-finals last season – earned him his first cap last summer, having been in Scotland’s provisional squad for the 2011 World Cup.
He made an immediate impact on the international stage, helping Scotland to a famous win in Australia on his debut before following that up with impressive performances in wins over Fiji and Samoa.
He kept his place in two autumn internationals against New Zealand and South Africa and his presence in the scrum against the Springboks was palpable.
A good RBS 6 Nations showing could well see Grant on the plane to Australia this summer as part of the British & Irish Lions touring party.
WALES – JUSTIN TIPURIC
A specialist openside flanker, Justin Tipuric has been in stellar form for the Ospreys for the last 18 months and has been heralded by teammate Joe Bearman as ‘the best No.7 in Britain’.
The 23-year-old has been limited to just ten appearances for Wales however with skipper Sam Warburton – just a year older – standing in his way.
Not even he has been able to resist Tipuric’s form however and during the autumn internationals he was handed his chance against Samoa, picked at the expense of his skipper.
A genuine athlete, Tipuric has pace to burn and his prowess at the breakdown makes him the envy of most other rugby-playing nations.