Six Nations 2014: Surprise Stars Who Must Maintain Momentum

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Chris Henry of Ireland looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on February 2, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

The Six Nations championship is one of rugby's great equalisers, where those names billed as the best and brightest can often crumble under pressure of shouldering their country's dreams.

However, that platform has a flip side, providing some of the competition's lesser-known participants with an opportunity to impress on Europe's biggest stages in the Northern Hemisphere's premier international contest.

Read on for a breakdown of those names whom some may not have thought would star quite so brightly but have gripped the opportunity afforded to them and controlled it with relative comfort two weeks into the campaign.

All statistics come courtesy of

Chris Henry, Ireland

With Sean O'Brien currently absent through injury, there was some concern over who would plug the void left at open-side in Joe Schmidt's squad.

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Luckily, Ulster's Chris Henry has been a force all on his own, arguably one of the best players of the tournament thus far and holding a very astute account of his own talents on the flank.

In fact, we'll revise that talk of O'Brien's injury, given what Rugby World's Charlie Morgan had to say about Henry's great graft:

The breakdown tactician has been a bother to every side he's come up against, making a collective 21 tackles in his two games against Scotland and Wales, not to mention scoring the first try of his team's 26-3 thumping of the reigning champions.

Luther Burrell, England

Regardless of how reliable he might be on the club scale with Northampton Saints, Luther Burrell nonetheless had an air of enigma about him coming into this year's Six Nations.

With no previous international experience to speak of, England's centre conundrum could have easily continued were Burrell the latest to crumble under the weight of a national team jersey, but it's been far from the case.

Scoring on his debut, a 26-24 loss at the Stade de France, the 26-year-old got off to a flying start under Stuart Lancaster, only made to look even better by the fact that he followed that up with another important try against Week 2 opponents Scotland.

If England are to indeed salvage any attempts at challenging for 2014's Six Nations title, Burrell could be the most vital part of their chain, his well-timed lines and fluid passing currently keeping the team afloat.ย 

Michele Campagnaro, Italy

Admittedly, Michele Campagnaro is included on this list almost entirely due to a rampaging display in Week 1 against the Welsh, but what a thrilling performance it was from the 20-year-old.

Clocking up more than 100 carrying metres and scoring two tries in his first Six Nations appearance, Campagnaro was a marvel at the Millennium Stadium, of which ex-England centre Will Greenwood certainly took note:

If the Azzurri are to have any hope of changing their fortunes, which currently see them yet to claim a point in the competition, Jacques Brunel will need all his aspiring starlets up to the task of their more senior adversaries.

Campagnaro has already shown that despite his age, he's well able to tussle with the bruising veterans of the continent, even if a 30-10 thrashing at the hands of France in Week 2 speaks somewhat more negatively of his impact.