Rainbow Cup: three players to watch

Rainbow Cup: three players to watch

The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup starts this weekend, with Edinburgh Rugby opening their campaign at home to Zebre on Friday night.

With the squad's younger stars and academy prospects expected to be given game time during the tournament, we look at three players to keep an eye on ahead of the big kick-off.

Charlie Savala

The Scottish qualified stand-off made his Edinburgh Rugby debut away to Cardiff Blues earlier this season and enjoyed an impressive first outing for the capital club.

Although Savala left the field early in the second-half with an injury, there was plenty to like about the stand-off's game, especially considering his lack of experience in union, coming from a league background in his native Australia.

Savala - who qualifies for Scotland through his Ayr-born father - was part of the Sydney Rooster's set-up, and that league style of play was definitely noticeable during the playmaker's debut in the Welsh capital.

With a flat 'rugby league-style' of pass and an eye for a neat chip over the top, Savala's attacking threats will have opposition defences on the constant look out.

Supporters will be eager to see Savala in action in the coming weeks, and the stand-off will no doubt be desperate to feature at BT Murrayfield.

Ben Muncaster

A bruising ball-carrier with all the physical attributes to make the step up to senior level, 19-year-old back-row Ben Muncaster will be another Academy prospect eager for game time in the coming weeks.

A product of North Berwick RFC, Muncaster joins teammates Chris Dean, Lewis Carmichael and Roan Frostwick in hailing from East Lothian town, while the back-row continued his development at Rugby School, where he earned a scholarship at an early age and impressed enough to be picked up by Leicester Tigers.

The back-row has represented Scotland at both U18 and U19 levels and was only recently invited to train with the national squad having impressed in Edinburgh Rugby's 'A' game victory over Glasgow Warriors in February.

With plenty of back-row competition already in the capital squad, Muncaster doesn't have to look far for inspiration with the likes of Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie and Bill Mata paving the way for the next generation of Burgh ball carriers.

Mesu Kunavula

If you were to ask Edinburgh Rugby supporters who they have been most impressed by in recent weeks, no doubt most of them would tell you Mesu Kunavula.

The Fijian international back-row was in scintillating form in the final fixtures of the regular PRO14 season, and was perhaps unfortunate not to pick up Player of the Match in the defeat to Dragons at the Principality Stadium.

Kunavula made a staggering 25 carries - most in the game - beat nine defenders and grabbed his first try for the club to cap off an excellent performance in the Welsh capital.

The back-row will have a real opportunity to continue that form in the upcoming Rainbow Cup and opposition defences will have now seen first hand the type of impact up front and destruction in defence that Kunavula is capable of.

At just 25-years-old, the Fijian still has plenty of time to develop his game that is heavily influenced by his strong 7s background, but the signs are all there; Kunavula is a star in the making.

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