Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 60 to 51. Take a look at who makes the cut

The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 60-51

60 Anton Lienert-Brown

Underrated: Anton Lienert-Brown is a lesser known star in Kiwi rugby (Getty Images)

Age 24 (15.4.95) Position Centre

One of the most underrated players in New Zealand rugby. Few can switch so seamlessly between 12 and 13, but that is just one element to Lienert-Brown. He is also deceptively quick, strong and produces scrambling try-saving moments. In what had been a struggling Chiefs team, he has often been the shining light – and could yet be a major factor for the All Blacks.

59 Henry Slade

Midfield Lynchpin: Slade has become huge for the Chiefs and England (Getty Images)

Age 26 (19.3.93) Position Centre

During the fallout of England’s 2015 World Cup failure, we demanded that henceforth Slade should be the first name on the team sheet. A broken leg and dented confidence slowed his progress, but the Exeter centre is now playing with an irresistible swagger.

His fizzing passes, flicked offloads and probing grubber kicks make him the yin to Owen Farrell’s yang, an extra set of ears and eyes in wider channels. “He can unlock stuff for England,” says ex-Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy. “The creativeness he brings balances out the structure and order of Farrell.”

Chiefs boss Rob Baxter thought Slade looked like a pipe cleaner the first time he saw him, but the player – a Type 1 diabetic – has become a defensive lynchpin with a deceptive turn of speed. He marked his first Six Nations start with a virtuoso two-try display in Dublin this year. Being installed as first-choice 13 since last year’s summer tour seems to have empowered him and he may go to the 2019 Rugby World Cup with the additional responsibility of being a back-up ten.

58 Gareth Anscombe

Starting 10: With his performances during the Six Nations Anscombe could have made the 10 shirt his own for Wales (Getty Images)

Age 28 (10.5.91) Position Fly-half

With a Christian name bestowed on him by a Welsh mother who idolised Gareth Edwards, the Kiwi-born pivot has enjoyed a stellar 12 months, inspiring Cardiff Blues to a Challenge Cup trophy in 2018 and playing a significant role in the red of Grand Slammers Wales in 2019. He’s an astute reader of the game, with a turn of pace and ability to play flat to the line.

57 Dan Biggar

Off the Bench: Biggar was a huge influence off the bench during Wales’ Grand Slam (Getty Images)

Age 29 (16.10.89) Position Fly-half

He spent a decade at the Ospreys, but it’s only by leaving Wales that fans have fully appreciated Biggar’s worth. An influential season at Northampton and a key part in Wales’ 12th Grand Slam have seen Biggar lauded. A model of composure, he’s integral to Warren Gatland’s 2019 Rugby World Cup plans.

56 Joe Moody

Modern Prop: Moody epitomises what the prop position has become (Getty Images)

Age 30 (18.9.88) Position Prop

Stop us if you’ve heard it: a player gets called up for the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup knockouts, plays an important role, goes on to win it. In 2015, that was Moody. Disciplinary lapses aside, the Crusader has become a fixture in the Kiwi scrum when fit, but it is his work all over that stands out. He is, as coach Steve Hansen calls him, “a good, mobile, athletic prop”.

55 Kendra Cocksedge

In Control: Cocksedge runs the show whenever she is on the pitch (Getty Images)

Age 30 (1.7.88) Position Scrum-half

After becoming the first woman to lift New Zealand’s Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year trophy in 2018, Cocksedge said her next goal was to win 50 caps. She should reach that milestone in San Diego in July as vice-captain of the Black Ferns team playing in the Women’s Super Series.

That tournament is a major fillip for NZ’s women, who have long struggled for an adequate Test programme. When they do get the chance to perform on the world stage, this nine dictates play.

Her pass has been described as “faultless” and she’s one of the world’s best goalkickers, having had many years to practise – her father built goalposts in their Taranaki backyard. Her greatest attribute is her game understanding, with team-mate Krysten Cottrell saying: “She knows the ins and outs of every play.

Not just her position but everyone else’s position. She has been in the rugby environment for such a long time, she can just take control of games and whatever she does she does it well.”

54 Siya Kolisi

Springbok Captain: Kolisi would be a popular winner at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (Getty Images)

Age 28 (16 June 1991) Position Back-row

The Springbok skipper’s rise from impoverished childhood to rugby star is well documented, which piles the pressure on the flanker. His season hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like, not least because of the demands on his time as the face of SA Rugby. Yet despite being pulled in a million directions since his ascent to becoming the first black Boks Test captain, he’s put in big performances for the Stormers and now looks to be coming to the boil at just the right time.

Although he is the Boks’ openside, he is not a traditional ‘fetcher’ but rather a powerful ball-carrier and strong defender. The Boks use Duane Vermeulen and Malcolm Marx as their primary jacklers, so it’s left to Kolisi to protect possession by cleaning rucks quickly and linking with the backs.

His leadership is now unchallenged and in the past year his calm head saw the Boks overcome two big deficits to beat England twice and also defeat the All Blacks in Wellington.

If he lifts the Webb Ellis Cup later this year, there’s unlikely to be a more popular winner for neutrals everywhere.

53 Will Genia

Rebel General: Genia has bounced back in Melbourne (Getty Images)

Age 31 (17.1.88) Position Scrum-half

After an eight-year, 114-appearance career with Queensland Reds, the scrum-half went to Stade Français in 2015 for two unsuccessful seasons. However, over the past two years he has bounced back wonderfully at the Rebels. Still a force in attack and still a hugely influential defender; the Wallabies need him now as much as ever.

52 Dane Coles

Dogged: Cales is returning from a series of injuries (Getty Images)

Age 32 (10.12.86) Position Hooker

The Rugby World Cup-winning All Black has been plagued by bad luck over the past two years, with concussion, Achilles and knee problems dogging the Hurricane. He’s lost his Test spot to Codie Taylor but such is the quality of this ball-playing quasi-centre that he remains an important figure.

51 Jerry Tuwai

Magical Fijian: Tuwai is must-see TV whenever he plays (Getty Images)

Age 30 (23.3.89) Position Sevens

“Every time he gets the ball something magical happens,” wrote Perry Baker of Jerry Tuwai last year. The Fijian general is one of the stars of the Sevens Series and a man who knows about hard work having grown up in poverty in the rough Suva suburb of Newtown. Be it stepping, sweeping or linking passes, the Olympic gold-medal winner is a must-watch talent.

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