Five to watch
We pick out five players to watch in this season's RBS 6 Nations championship:
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JOE LAUNCHBURY (England, lock)
The dynamic Wasps lock made his international breakthrough during England's autumn campaign and made such an impact that he was named man of the series and suddenly found himself being talked of as a Lion. The hype is justified.
TIM VISSER (Scotland, wing)
The flying Dutchman made his debut against Fiji in June immediately after qualifying for Scotland. He has been in the leading try-scorer in the RaboDirect PRO12 for the last three seasons. This is his first Six Nations campaign.
LEIGH HALFPENNY (Wales, full-back)
The Welsh squad may be off form and ravaged by injury but Halfpenny is their shining light. He was Wales' best player in 2012 and has the opportunity to nail down the Lions full-back jersey during the Six Nations.
CRAIG GILROY (Ireland, wing)
The Ulsterman announced himself on the international stage in scintillating fashion against Argentina in the autumn. Gilroy has pace, footwork and an eye for the tryline that will illuminate the Six Nations.
LOUIS PICAMOLES (France, number eight)
France are blessed with formidable back row options but the pick at present is Toulouse number eight Picamoles, a powerful runner and ferocious ball-carrier who was outstanding in their autumn campaign.