Take a look at who has made it into the top ten of our 100 Best Players In The World list

The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 10-4

10 Tadhg Furlong

Infinite Respect: Furlong is feared by all who face him (Getty Images)

Age 26 (14.11.92) Position Prop

The legend goes that during his time with Ireland U20 this normally restrained tighthead suggested that, so often was his defence highlighted in analysis, he should be called ‘Jukebox’ – because the hits keep coming. Now one of the most respected forwards on the planet, Furlong is feared in the tight and revered for deft handling in the loose.

9 Viliame Mata

Big unit: The man mountain carries like no other (Getty Images)

Age 27 (22.10.91) Position No 8

John Barclay’s seen a lot in his time but he’s been blown away by his Edinburgh team-mate and master offloader: “I don’t know any player who carries the ball as well as him in traffic. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet, that’s the scary thing.”

8 Finn Russell

Pulses Racing: He can set the field on fire with his vision and creativity (Getty Images)

Age 26 (23 September 1992) Position Fly-half

He’s one of the top ten players in the world because every time he gets the ball you know he can do serious damage. He’s such a threat because his skill-set is ridiculous. His running threat is immense and defences can’t take their eyes off him for a second. He can chip, grubber and punt the ball to space, and his distribution off both hands has ripped world-class defences apart. He also makes good calls on intercepts and when he’s the other side of the defensive line, if he doesn’t finish the try he doesn’t die with the ball and helps set up another wave.

7 Ben Smith

Relied Upon: Smith plays a key role in the All Black back-line (Getty Images)

Age 33 (1.6.86) Position Back three

On the very rare occasions he makes a mistake, you can feel the rugby world gasp. He turns similes on their head: fixed structures should be described as being as steady as Smith.

A half-back for a chunk of his teens, it wasn’t until Otago’s NPC coaches put ‘Bender’ at 15 that things clicked. With a whole field in front of him, his computer-like brain started deciphering things. It would still take a few years before the whole country saw how Smith’s ball-gathering, line-picking, field-covering work was perfect for the All Blacks. But he got there.

He is not the biggest, the brashest or the most physical of characters – The Alternative Commentary Collective affectionately named him ‘Ben from accounts’. But it is for his resilience and his brilliantly efficient play that he is described as one of the great 15s.

He has been moved to the wing to accommodate other talents, but his maturity and intrinsic leadership skills make him invaluable to the ABs. “He’s a special person,” Steve Hansen says.

6 Owen Farrell

Pivotal Figure: Farrell is key to England’s World Cup chances (Getty Images)

Age 27 (24 September 1991) Position Fly-half

The Saracen had a brilliant beginning to the Six Nations in a dominant display against Ireland but was strangely ragged against Wales and particularly Scotland, where his game disintegrated in front of our eyes in a surreal second half. Typical of the man, he bounced back and became a European champion for the third time when beating Leinster in Newcastle.

Farrell was controlled and tactically supreme that day. His constant involvement and moment of pure class in giving the scoring pass to Sean Maitland for Sarries’ opening try was utterly critical to the outcome.

“Owen makes decisions and executes unbelievably well,” says Danny Cipriani. “He’s a diligent athlete. The way he looks at things – and the way he drives things – is meticulous.”

As he leads England into the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he must address his tendency to go shoulder-first into tackles because his country will not go far without him.

In an eventful year on the pitch, he became a dad off it. If Tommy fancies a career in rugby, he won’t be lacking in advice from his father and grandfather!

5 Liam Williams

No Mistakes: Liam Williams has become one of the finest backs in the world (Getty Images)

Age 28 (9.4.91) Position Back three

The world’s best player in the view of Giselle Mather, who cites his try-saving tackle-jackal on Garry Ringrose in the Heineken Cup final as Exhibit A. “He’s a modern-day JPR Williams, a cult hero,” Sam Warburton says of the fearless, feisty full-back.

4 Brodie Retallick

Unlike Any Other: Retallick’s skills are unmatched in the lock position (Getty Images)

Age 28 (31.5.91) Position Lock

No lock in world rugby has Retallick’s range of skills. Who else could sell an audacious dummy from 40m out and canter in as he did against the Wallabies last August? It was voted Try of the Year. A beast in contact and set-piece – look how he destroyed England’s lineout last autumn – his offloading and handling in the wide channels sets him apart.

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