All the great hookers have caused damage in the loose – yet not at the expense of the set-piece basics that constitute the core part of their role. Ideally, the No 2 will scrummage as effectively as a prop, throw into line outs with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, and serve as a fourth loose forward in open play. Some will win regular turnovers at the breakdown, others carry and offload like a No 8. If you can also get on the score-sheet occasionally – Keith Wood averaged a try almost every four games – then you have the complete package.

Keith Wood prepares to throw in at the line out

Major teams: Harlequins, Munster Country: Ireland Test span: 1994-2003 Ireland caps: 58 (55 starts) Lions caps: 5 (5 starts) Test points: 75 (15T) Brought up in Killaloe, County Clare, where…

Brian Moore charges forward

Major teams: Nottingham, Harlequins, Richmond Country: England Test span: 1987-95 England caps: 64 (63 starts) Lions caps: 5 (5 starts) Test points: 4 (1T) By definition, elite athletes require a…

Bismarck du Plessis taking on the NZ defence

Major teams: Free State Cheetahs, Natal, Sharks, Montpellier 

 Country: South Africa
 Test span: 2007-2015 South Africa caps 79 (50 starts)
 Test points: 55 (11T) Stuck behind the sizeable figure…

Raphael Ibanez on the charge

Major teams: Dax, Perpignan, Castres, Saracens, Wasps Country: France 
Test span: 1996-2007 France caps: 98 (75 starts) Test points: 40 (8T) He took over the France captaincy at the start…

Argentina's Mario Ledesma

Major teams: Curupatyi, Narbonne, Castres, Clermont
 Country: Argentina

 Test span: 1996-2011
 Argentina caps: 84 (67 starts)

 Test points: 15 (3 tries) Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu might seem an odd choice…

Colin Deans of Scotland

Major teams: Hawick Country: Scotland
 Test span: 1978-87 Scotland caps: 52 (52 starts) Test points: 10 (2T) Although Deans had much to celebrate in his career, he was denied the…

Bobby Windsor hacks a kick up field

Major teams: Cross Keys, Cardiff, Pontypool Country: Wales Test span: 1973-79 Wales caps: 28 (28 starts) Lions caps: 5 (5 starts) Test points: 4 (1T) He says he was always…

Bryn Meredith lunges for the ball

Major teams: London Welsh, Newport Country: Wales Test span: 1954-62 Wales caps: 34 (34 starts) Lions caps: 8 (8 starts) Test points: 12 (4T) Meredith had a long distinguished career…

Peter Wheeler of England

Major teams: Leicester 

 

Country: England
 Test span: 1975-84
 England caps: 48 (48 starts) 

Lions caps: 7 (7 starts) 
Test points: 0 Adopting the role of chief executive at Leicester…