Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 80 to 71. Compiled at the end of 2017, take a look at who makes the cut

75 Nepo Laulala

Comeback: Dogged by horrific injuries, Laulala’s return to rugby has been inspired (Getty Images)

Country New Zealand Date of Birth 6.11.91 Position Prop

In 2016 Laulala ruptured three knee ligaments, tore his quad muscle off the bone and was told he would never play again. His battle back has inspired. With Charlie Faumuina in Europe and Owen Franks injured, he has anchored the Kiwis’ scrum and his doggedness is a key trait now.

74 George North

Mighty man: North has waned in his play in the past couple of years mainly due to injuries (Getty)

Country Wales Date of Birth 13.4.92 Position Wing

North’s star has waned since 2013, when he was superb for the Lions, and he was out of sorts in New Zealand last summer. Yet the bullocking wing looked rejuvenated this season, with three tries in six games before a knee injury saw him crocked again. A proven finisher, he has plundered 32 tries in 72 Tests and it will be good to see him back at full bore.

73 Jamie George

All-rounder: Jamie George impresses in the tight and the loose (Getty Images)

Country England Date of Birth 20.10.90 Position Hooker

He’s shown commendable patience, making his first England start against Samoa after 19 appearances off the bench. The 2017 Lions Test hooker has an all-court game and a throwing accuracy in the mid-nineties, and his stellar Saracens form has yielded European Cup and Premiership titles.

72 Kelly Brazier

Calm head: In all forms of the game, Brazier rarely makes a bad decision (Getty Images)

Country New Zealand Date of Birth 28.10.89 Position Centre

No matter the code, when play gets frenetic, Brazier’s calm head sets her apart. So while she can step off both feet and burn in from distance, she can also deliver a neat cross-field kick and slot goals – she has 192 points for her country. Expect the XVs World Cup winner to play just as big a role for New Zealand in Sevens World Cup year too.

71 Kane Hames

Anchor: Hames has anchored the All Blacks scrum immensely in 2017 (Getty Images)

Country New Zealand Date of Birth 28.8.88 Position Prop

Joe Moody’s injury gave Hames an All Blacks opportunity that he’s seized with both hands – just ask the Pumas tightheads who he sent skywards. A qualified referee who’s worked as a development officer at Bay of Plenty RFU, he was part of an NZ pack that had a 98% scrum efficiency in 2017.

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