Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 50 to 41. Take a look at who makes the cut

The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 50-41

50 Jacob Stockdale

Finest Finisher: His try-scoring record speaks for itself… (Getty Images)

Age 23 (3.4.96) Position Wing

The Ulster wing’s impact has been electrifying. He ended his season at full-back but out wide is where he is most devastating. He has 14 tries in 19 Tests and an unerring ability to break tackles just when you think he is about to be hauled down. As good a finisher as Ireland has ever produced.

49 Duane Vermeulen

Springbok Thor: Vermeulen is an absolute beast (Getty Images)

Age 32 (3.7.86) Position No 8

The abrasive No 8 is not known as ‘Thor’ for his good looks; he is a defensive wall and breakdown menace. Returning to South Africa after a long stint in France, he’s been the Bulls’ best player this year. He still has the fitness and pace to thrive in the high-octane southern hemisphere game while also having the experience, guile and power to dominate Tests.

48 George Kruis

Fine Fettle: Kruis is in the form of his life at the moment (Getty Images)

Age 29 (22.2.90) Position Lock

First-choice No 4 for club and country, his tackle rate and technical ability at the set-piece are particular calling cards. He experienced a dip after the 2017 Lions tour, but he’s since hit career-best form and scooped a third Champions Cup winner’s medal with a Herculean display against Leinster.

47 Antoine Dupont

Dynamic Frenchman: Dupont will be crucial for French chances in Japan (Getty Images)

Age 22 (15.11.96) Position Scrum-half

Le petit general of a Toulouse side enjoying a renaissance, Dupont is comfortable playing in both half-back positions, where his eye for a gap, quick feet and low centre of gravity make him a menace in broken-field play. With improved game management, Dupont is capable of becoming one of the breakthrough acts at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

46 Jack Goodhue

Decisive Centre: Goodhue’s pressure decision making is his finest asset (Getty Images)

Age 24 (13.6.95) Position Centre

Anyone compared to Conrad Smith is in the world-class echelon of centres. The fact Goodhue finds himself there aged 24 speaks to his value for the Crusaders and All Blacks. He’s strong, sound in defence and a brilliant distributor, yet, like Smith, pressure decision-making is his greatest asset.

45 Damian Penaud

One for the Future: Penaud has taken to the French team beautifully (Getty Images)

Age 22 (25.9.96) Position Wing

If France are to ambush England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, you suspect Penaud’s role will be significant. The 6ft 4in, near-15st wing has been a shining light in a mediocre side, as his 2019 Six Nations stats reinforce. He featured in France’s top four for offloads, defenders beaten and turnovers won, as well as making the most metres (279), some of which came with his fine finish at Twickenham. In Rome, he saved les Bleus’ bacon with a match-winning tackle on Marco Zanon.

Penaud’s socks-down physicality comes at a price, because his lack of world-class pace can be exposed, but at 22 he’s a young man with his best years still ahead of him. The Clermont player is still a comparative novice on the wing, having won his first five caps at outside-centre, his foremost position.

His father, Alain, was a France fly-half in the Nineties and Brian O’Driscoll says: “For anyone that remembers his dad’s vintage, he’s like Jean-Baptiste Lafond and Philippe Saint-André, the sort of player we’ve not really seen in a French jersey for 20 years. Except this guy has another ten kilos on him. He has deftness of touch, a passing game, an offloading game, he brings physicality too. That’s why people purr when they watch him.”

44 Garry Ringrose

Only 24: Ringrose seems to have been around for donkeys years, and yet is still just 24 years old (Getty Images)

Age 24 (26.1.95) Position Centre

If comparisons to Brian O’Driscoll early in his career were a burden for Ringrose, he carried it well. So well, in fact, that his name already commands instant respect in its own right.

At 24, the centre is one of the world’s best attacking talents, possessing the slick footwork required to skip through traffic but also the pace synonymous with exhilarating outside breaks.

He can score breathtaking tries and often delivers when they are most needed, as with the opportunistic pounce from a chargedown by Leinster in this year’s Pro14 final. A superb chaser and catcher of high balls, he likes to fly up fast in defence, corralling opponents back towards his forwards. Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell says: “He’s got a feel for space. He knows when to put the pedal down and put pressure on at the right time.”

Central to champion sides at club and Test level, his confidence has soared and he’s able to ride bumps, like the four-on-two he blew in the Heineken Cup final. He’s growing into a leader.

43 Perry Baker

Need for Speed: Perry Baker is one of the most exciting sevens players in the world (Getty Images)

Age 32 (29 June 1986) Position Sevens

Welcome to wedlock. A broken jaw in Hamilton, just a few weeks after he got married, brought a spell on the sidelines for Baker and probably put paid to a hat-trick of World Sevens Player of the Year awards.

The American scorched his way to 94 World Series tries across the previous two seasons – despite missing the final three rounds last year – and scored the greatest solo sevens try in history with his mesmerising escapology and winding 100-metre dash against Fiji in Las Vegas.

Although most renowned for his ‘wheels’, Baker is brilliantly elusive, sometimes making defenders over-chase by threatening an outside break and then putting on the brakes, and a spring-heeled ball-winner from restarts.

His chip-and-chase, position flexibility and tackle technique – “I’m so quick to get ready to go into contact that I can hit in the wrong spot,” he told us with refreshing candour last year – have all developed, and you wonder just how good he might have been had he had a longer stab at it. The former American Footballer only turned pro five years ago.

As it is, the man they call ‘Speedstick’ is still one of the most exciting players on the planet. USA Sevens coach Mike Friday says: “The big thing about Perry is he wants to get better at all the things he’s not good at, which is a trait shared by box-office players in whatever sport. That’s what Perry has grown into.”

42 Mikheil Nariashvili

Dominant Prop: The big Georgian will head what should be a colossal scrum at the World Cup (Getty Images)

Age 29 (25.5.90) Position Prop

Georgia are spoilt for choice when it comes to props and this wily Montpellier loosehead is the best of the lot. He didn’t play in their recent Rugby Europe Championship triumph as Milton Haig blooded a few youngsters, but he will be central to their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign as they look to dominate at the scrum.

41 Leone Nakarawa

Fijian Leader: Nakarawa may have dropped down our list, but he remains a brilliant lock forward (Getty Images)

Age 31 (2.4.88) Position Lock

Magic hands. A rugby ball looks like a lemon in his giant mitts. And he flings it left and right with outstanding frequency. As well as being a master of the offload, he’s a nuisance at the lineout, whether for Racing 92 or Fiji, and a key leader for his country.