Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 90 to 81. Compiled at the end of 2017, take a look at who makes the cut
85 Michael Leitch
Country Japan Date of Birth 7.10.88 Position Back-row
How he still stands at the end of a game is a mystery. Leitch approaches collisions like a Terminator. He first moved to Japan as a teenager and is a proud member of their side. Having led Japan to that win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup and the recent draw against France in Paris, Leitch will go down in their rugby folklore.
84 Lenaig Corson
Country France Date of Birth 15.3.89 Position Lock
Even without the red, white and blue braids in her hair, Corson was easy to spot during France’s Women’s World Cup campaign because of her sheer number of involvements in the action.
The former heptathlete has been playing rugby for nearly ten years and was a deserving winner of Midi Olympique’s ‘Oscar’ for the best French women’s player in 2017. She’s a physically bruising lock and is always in the thick of things, just as she was when France picked up the bronze medal at WRWC 2017 and when the Barbarians played their first women’s fixture against Munster.
Corson is now fulfilling her potential, having developed a steely determination after missing out on selection for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. She is that rare breed of second-row who is as comfortable in the wide open spaces as she is in the tight exchanges.
This season it looks like she’ll be focusing more on the sevens circuit, which again goes to show her quality.
83 Vereniki Goneva
Caps 49 Country Fiji Age 33 (5.4.84) Position Wing
It’s four years since Goneva was named Players’ Player of the Year by the RPA when at Leicester, and he’s still a lethal runner. Dean Richards cited his “cutting edge” when signing him for Newcastle. The biggest metre-maker in last year’s Premiership, the Fijian is a sharp finisher with an eye for an intercept – the young Falcons talent is learning from the best.
82 Judicael Cancoriet
Country France Date of Birth 25.4.96 Position Back-row
This flanker is a newcomer to the Test scene – he made his France debut in November, starting all three games at blindside – but his all-action displays for Clermont regularly catch the eye. He joined them as a teen in 2015 from Massy and is now renowned for his work-rate, tackles and carries.
81 Sekope Kepu
Country Australia Date of Birth 5.2.86 Position Prop
Okay, his mindless red card last autumn in Scotland was worthy of disgust. But Kepu, told by Michael Cheika to return to Oz from Bordeaux in 2016, has been critical to the Wallabies’ scrummaging revival in recent years. Allan Alaalatoa is breathing down his neck but in recent wins over Argentina and the All Blacks, Kepu squeezed the Aussies forward.
We kick off our list of the 100…