The perfect No 7 is a player of many talents, able to support and carry in attack yet tackle ceaselessly and be first on the scene to secure possession at the breakdown. You will push the boundaries of legality and so need the stealth of a cat burglar as you flit around the field stealing the ball without attracting the referee’s attention. Although one of the smaller forwards, you should have terrific strength over the ball – and you must never stop! Opensides often make good captains as they are at the heart of the action – there are several great leaders in our list.

Richie McCaw of New Zealand

Major teams: Crusaders, Canterbury Country: New Zealand
 Test span: 2001-15 Test caps: 148 (141 starts) Test points: 135 (27T) Even before he’d made a national age-grade team though, Richie McCaw…

George Smith grapples with New Zealand

Major teams: Brumbies, Toulon, Suntory Goliath, Stade Français, Lyon, Wasps Position: Openside flanker Country: Australia 
Test span: 2000-13 Test caps: 111 (93 starts) Test points: 45 (9T) In the wake…

Ireland's Fergus Slattery representing the Lions

Major teams: University College Dublin, Blackrock College
 Country: Ireland Test span: 1970-84 Ireland caps: 61 (61 starts) Lions caps: 4 (4 starts) Test points: 12 (3T) With an all-court game…

Michael Jones of New Zealand

Major teams: Auckland, Blues Countries: Western Samoa, New Zealand
 Test span: 1986-98 Western Samoa caps: One (one start) New Zealand caps: 55 (54 starts) Test points: 56 (13T) John Hart’s…

Wavell Wakefield of England

Major teams: Harlequins, Leicester Position: Openside flanker Country: England Test span: 1920-27 Test caps: 31 (31 starts) Test points: 18 (6T) Nowadays administrators devise the laws and players just play,…

Thierry Dusautoir of France

Major teams: Bordeaux-Begles, Colomiers, Biarritz, Toulouse Country: France
Test span: 2006-2015 France caps: 80 (79 starts) Test points: 30 (6T) Two World Cup ties against New Zealand with a combined total…