Everybody loves a player who can step round opponents in the blink of an eye and Jonathan Joseph, owner of some sharp footwork himself, names a few masters of the art
In a collision sport, those players who can evade opposition defenders with guile, deception and footwork that would put John Travolta to shame are few and far between. RW spoke to England’s hot-stepper in residence, Jonathan Joseph, who named his best steppers in the game, past and present…
Jason Robinson Caps 51 Tries 28
A rugby league legend with Wigan before switching codes, in six years Jason Robinson appeared in two World Cup finals, was a scorer in a Lions Test Series and lies fourth on England’s all-time top try-scorer list.
“Back in the day Jase had some blistering footwork. He was very explosive, which meant he could virtually bounce round players. He was very instinctive, and sometimes I don’t know if even he knew where he was heading, but he was a proven match-winner.”
Semesa Rokoduguni Caps: 1 Tries 0
One of the best finishers in the Aviva Premiership, Semesa Rokoduguni has 29 tries in 64 appearances for Bath and is currently touring with the England Saxons, where he scored a superb individual try last weekend.
“My Bath buddy, Roko, has great feet. He can bounce you, step you, run round you, or just run through you – he’s very powerful. He’s rapid too, and can step off both feet and sit defenders down. I’m glad I play with him because he’s extremely difficult to defend against.”
Quade Coooper Caps: 58 Tries: 8
Currently in Toulon, but rumoured to be heading back to the Queensland Reds, Quade Cooper’s offensive gifts have never been in doubt but currently finds himself out of the Test reckoning and in recent months failed to make the Olympic Sevens squad.
“There’s no doubt Quade Cooper can step. He’s all about the flair. If the old goosestep works he has defenders falling on their backsides. His flicks, twists and turns are perfect for the You Tube generation. Ridiculously gifted.”
Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand) Caps: 8 Tries: 8
The talented World Cup-winning wing from Taihape made his debut in 2015, and was scoring at the rate of a try a game. Nehe Milner-Skudder been cut down by injury for this Super Rugby season.
“Nehe burst onto the scene last year before the World Cup and he has a sensational right-foot step. He sets the defender, and disguises his step really well – there’s not much of a build up to it and then he changes pace so effortlessly. He’s brilliant to watch.”
Shane Williams Caps: 85 Tries: 58
A Welsh legend, he is fourth on the all-time international try-scoring list. A once-in-a-generation player, Williams played in three Lions tours and was a nominee for World Player of the Year in 2008.
“Shane retired just as I started to come through but he had real pace and an electric sidestep. I’m told he was a former gymnast, which meant he was extremely springy which helped when he was in one-on-one situations. He had a low centre of gravity, was hard to get hold of and his try record, shows he was a superb finisher.”
Jonathan Joseph was speaking ahead of the Laureus King Power Polo Cup and features in the current issue. For the latest Rugby World subscription offers click here