This week we turn our attention in our ones to watch series to the men in the No.9 jersey and there’s a dazzling array of talent among the five scrum-halves we have picked out in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Pool 1: Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)
Springbok Reinach certainly made his mark in the Gallagher Premiership last season, with no player scoring more than his 12 tries to help Northampton return to the Heineken Champions Cup after a season away.
The 29-year-old reads the game brilliantly in both attack and defence, with many of his tries coming from deep following interceptions.
Pool 2: Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks)
Another South African international No. 9 who is expected to catch the eye this season is De Klerk. The diminutive scrum-half is as wily as they come, causing all sorts of problems around opposition rucks and mauls.
De Klerk produced man-of-the-match displays in Sale’s victories over Perpignan in Round 1 and Connacht Rugby in the quarter-finals of last season’s Challenge Cup.
Pool 3: John Cooney (Ulster Rugby)
Cooney is a former Champions Cup winner with Leinster Rugby, whose debut in the competition came in the 2012 final. Since then, he has made appearances in European rugby for fellow Irish provinces Ulster and Connacht Rugby.
Cooney’s partnership with Billy Burns helped Ulster reach the quarter-finals last season, when the Ireland international registered 41 points.
Pool 4: Conor Murray (Munster Rugby)
An imposing scrum-half with world-class credentials, Murray is always a threat when he puts on the red jersey of Munster, with his sniping runs and pinpoint box-kicks as sharp as ever.
Still only 30 years old, the Ireland international will be keen to add to his 52 appearances in the competition and help his province reach their first final since 2008.
Pool 5: Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)
Dupont had his breakthrough season last term as he played an integral role in Toulouse’s journey to the last four. The French international was named man of the match three times, which included his two-try performance in the quarter-final victory over TOP 14 rivals Racing 92
The former Castres scrum-half is not a traditional No. 9. He enjoys plenty of ball in hand, executes numerous offloads and boasts running stats that a full-back would be proud of.