Any writer or pundit will tell you, ruefully, that making predictions in print is a mug’s game, but sometimes, those predictions do come off.

Rugby World had a particularly good month of it in March 2008 when, in the Sidelines column, Mark Coughlan chose to spotlight ‘two future stars’, Daniel Biggar of Ospreys and Wales Under 20s, and one Joe Marler, of Harlequins and England Under 18s.

Even as far back as 2008, you tended to let Joe Marler speak for himself. Asked why he started out as a prop, his answer was, “I was the short, fat one basically…I still have a long way to go and I know things are going to get tough for me, but I’m really enjoying it.”

Of Biggar, the Welsh Under 20s coach Patrick Horgan argued, “He knows when to kick and when to run and Neil Jenkins has been working with him, so when he decides to kick, he certainly can.” Coughlan’s verdict was, “The conveyor belt of quality Welsh fly-halves has found another gem.”

Some 633 points scored in 112 internationals for Wales suggests that that opinion of Biggar, three times a Six Nations title winner, was a pretty shrewd one. Marler’s 92 England caps, three Six Nations titles and both silver and bronze medals at the World Cup isn’t too shabby either.

Read more about these coming young men of rugby union here.

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