Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 40-31. Take a look at who makes the cut

The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 40-31

40 Peter O’Mahony

Warrior Mentality: O’Mahoney puts his body on the line in every match (Getty Images)

Age 29 (17.9.89) Position Back-row

Described by Joe Schmidt as an “absolute warrior”, Ireland’s O’Mahony is someone you want beside you in the trenches. A brilliant line-out technician – he topped this year’s Six Nations stats by a mile with 32 takes – he is also rated by Sean Holley as the best European jackler of modern times behind Sam Warburton.

39 Codie Taylor

His Own: Taylor has wrestled the starting hooker spot off Dane Coles (Getty Images)

Age 28 (31.3.91) Position Hooker

Had to bide his time behind Dane Coles but is the man in possession of the All Black No 2 jersey. Hugely consistent, strong in all the basics, and forever popping up with game-changing moments at critical times, Taylor has taken his chance.

38 Cian Healy

Wrecking Ball: Healy batters through lines with ferocity like no other (Getty Images)

Age 31 (7.10.87) Position Prop

Talk about a renaissance man. In 2015, a serious nerve problem in his arm meant Healy had signed papers to retire. But he said: “Once there is a glimmer of hope you have to chase it.” He has rebounded, hard, since changing his mind. There are few in Europe as stoic in defence or as willing to handle in heavy traffic.

37 Josh Navidi

Stat Stuffer: Navidi is a regular feature at the top of statistics like tackling and turnovers (Getty Images)

Age 28 (30.12.90) Position Back-row

Good things come to those who wait, and the dreadlocked dreadnought has been blasting expectations from the back row since he returned to Test rugby for Wales after a four-year hiatus in 2017. Since then, the Cardiff Blue has been near undroppable.

36 Tom Curry

Revelation: Curry has been outstanding in the seven jersey for club and country (Getty Images)

Age 21 (16.6.98) Position Back-row

Along with twin brother Ben, he’s shown a maturity that belies his tender years. The Sale and England openside is a destructive, muscular breakdown pilferer who has levers like a JCB and is immovable over the ball, with similar characteristics to David Pocock. And nobody surpassed his 86 tackles in this year’s Six Nations.

35 Johnny Sexton

World Cup Pressure: Sexton will be looking for tournament glory in Japan (Getty Images)

Age 33 (11.7.85) Position Fly-half

In 2018 he played in a Slam, a series win in Australia and a first victory over New Zealand in Dublin. With Leinster doing the double, he was crowned World Player of the Year. This year he has fallen short of such heady heights but will likely show his class in Japan.

34 Sarah Bern

Unknown Potential: Bern is incredibly dynamic for a prop (Getty Images)

Age 21 (10.7.97) Position Prop

Scrummaging is every prop’s bread and butter, but Bern enhances hers with peanut butter, jelly and much more besides. She can sidestep like a wing, pick the running lines of a centre and has a decent pass. And she’s only 21 – the potential for this very modern front-rower is huge.

33 Pieter-Steph du Toit

Utility Man: Du Toit can play lock or in the back-row (Getty Images)

Age 26 (20 August 1992) Position Back-row

There isn’t a player with a bigger engine or heart in the game. The sight of a sobbing Du Toit after the Springboks beat the All Blacks in Wellington in 2018 was one of the images of the year. No one, on a day when many players had the game of their lives, did more than Du Toit to secure the famous win. He made 28 tackles and covered every blade of grass at the Cake Tin at least twice. It was one of the modern game’s seminal displays and one that ended the angst over Du Toit’s best position.

Having started his professional career as a lock, Du Toit’s first few forays in the No 7 jersey (blindside flank in SA) were promising but undermined by errors big and small.

However, Boks coach Rassie Erasmus persevered, believing that his natural athleticism, high work-rate and indefatigable spirit would eventually translate into a rare gem in the back row. The confidence Erasmus showed in Du Toit has paid off and he is now the next name on the team sheet after Siya Kolisi.

The Stormers started using him exclusively as a blindside flank this year and despite their collective struggles, Du Toit has been the best No 7 out of any South African franchise in 2019.

At 6ft 7in, he is an immense lineout threat too, which should give SA a solid set-piece at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The Boks have found a natural heir to Juan Smith.

32 Josh Adams

Moving Up: Adams seems to be getting better and better (Getty Images)

Age 24 (21.4.95) Position Wing

He’s enjoyed a stellar trajectory in the past 18 months. Now a Wales regular, he crossed for tries against Italy, England and Scotland in the Six Nations and is moving to Cardiff Blues after four years at Worcester having scored 38 tries in 64 games.

31 Portia Woodman

Done it All: Woodman has won everything in a stellar career (Getty Images)

Age 27 (12.7.91) Position Wing

Shockingly, Woodman – all-time top try-scorer in women’s sevens, a World Cup winner who once scored eight in a game – thinks of herself a novice. As the ex-netballer says: “I still consider myself one of the newbies because I have so much more to learn and to give.” She will be a star of the Olympics.

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