The Castle Lager Rugby Championship 2015: South Africa v New ZealandAt the moment, Bismarck du Plessis is head and shoulders above any other hooker in the world.

He had to wait for his chance to come, having to play behind South Africa captain John Smit despite it being widely accepted he was the better player, but when it came, he grabbed it with both hands.

Like any Springbok forward, du Plessis is very handy in the scrum and his lineout throwing is accurate, but it his work in the loose that sets him apart from the rest. His work at the breakdown means South Africa have the equivalent of four back-rows in their pack, he is comfortable with the ball and his tackling is first rate.

Although he won his first cap in 2007, it was only when Smit moved to across the front row to tighthead in 2008 that du Plessis, 31, made the hooker’s berth his own.

The Sharks No 2 played an integral part in South Africa’s 2-1 series triumph over the Lions in 2009 and, in recent years, has relished having his brother, Jannie du Plessis, alongside him as a regular in the Springbok front row.

His 73 Tests for South Africa have brought nine tries and it is easy to envisage him adding a few more in the World Cup.

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