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Six Nations stars of the tournament: Big names shine in thrilling competition

After an intriguing Super Saturday, the 2023 Six Nations finished with Ireland securing a much-deserved Grand Slam in Dublin.

As the dust settles on the latest chapter on rugby's greatest championship, here's a look at this year's best performers and stars to look out for at the 2023 World Cup.

Van der Flier key to Irish success

A former world player of the year who will most likely be in the running for the accolade again in 2023, Josh van der Flier showed why he’s regarded as one of the best forwards on the planet.

The Leinster star shone throughout the tournament but his performance at Murrayfield in a 22-7 win over Scotland might well go down as his best of the competition.

With Ireland losing both their hookers to injury, flanker van der Flier was tasked with throwing in at the lineout and did a remarkable job.

Hitting his mark under pressure, van der Flier typified Ireland’s ability to cope with whatever challenges came their way.

Ireland justified their position at the top of the world rankings and, with van der Flier looking set to star for Andy Farrell’s side in France, they are 4/1 to win the World Cup this year.

Magnificent Dupont just getting better

All of the superlatives have already been used up to describe Antoine Dupont, with the France scrum-half enjoying another standout tournament for Les Bleus.

With individual brilliance to unlock defences, Dupont will be another serious contender for world player of the year.

His form was deserving of a Six Nations title but France’s defeat in Dublin proved to be the difference between themselves and an outstanding Ireland side.

France will still have high hopes for the World Cup this year and are the 11/4 favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time in their history.

The little general was the mastermind behind France’s best performance of the tournament and possibly their best in Six Nations history, as they inflicted England’s heaviest home defeat at Twickenham in round four.

That 53-10 win in London will go down in French rugby folklore and skipper Dupont once again showed why he is spoken of in the same breath as Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter as a rugby superstar.

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Jones rediscovers Scotland form

Having previously fallen out of favour with Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, Huw Jones has made the No.13 jersey his own once again after a tremendous tournament.

Jones got off to a great start with the Scots’ opening try of the competition in a Calcutta Cup victory against the English at Twickenham.

Scoring a brace of tries in Paris, before going over against Ireland, Jones bagged himself four tries for the tournament, with only Damian Penaud scoring more.

Jones has had his critics in the past for the defensive side of his game but it’s an area he has improved greatly.

If the British & Irish Lions side was named tomorrow, it would be hard to argue against Jones being the starting outside centre.

Hansen loving life with Ireland

Only making his Ireland debut last year, Mack Hansen has emerged as a top-class winger for his adopted country.

With James Lowe also impressing on the other flank, Ireland boast two of the best wingers in the Six Nations and the pair enjoyed some excellent performances.

Hansen was another instrumental figure in Ireland’s win in Edinburgh which earned him a third player-of-the-match performance in eight Six Nations games.

Scoring three tries in the championship this season, the Connacht star continues to show he is more than capable at Test level.

At 89kgs there were some concerns Hansen would be slightly too lightweight for international rugby but he has silenced those doubters.

Hansen has shown he is more than capable with the ball in hand and even at the breakdown, as he showed to great effect at Murrayfield.

The 24-year-old likes to get involved with the play as much as possible and that’s a trait Farrell likes to see from his wingers.

Hansen’s rise in international rugby has been a steep one and it will be interesting to see how he fares on the biggest stage of all at the World Cup later this year. Ireland find themselves in a tough pool, as they face South Africa, Scotland, Tonga and Romania.

The Six Nations champions are 5/6 to top Pool B, with the Springboks at 5/4 and the Scots at 7/1.

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