The perfect No 7 is a player of many talents, able to support and carry in attack yet tackle ceaselessly and be first on the scene to secure possession at the breakdown. You will push the boundaries of legality and so need the stealth of a cat burglar as you flit around the field stealing the ball without attracting the referee’s attention. Although one of the smaller forwards, you should have terrific strength over the ball – and you must never stop! Opensides often make good captains as they are at the heart of the action – there are several great leaders in our list.

George Smith grapples with New Zealand

George Smith became the youngest man to hit 100 Tests when starting against New Zealand aged 29 years and four days, no shock that the openside is now considered one…

Thierry Dusautoir of France

Thierry Dusautoir won the IRB Player of the Year award in 2011 - the same year as the All Blacks won the World Cup - such was the French openside's…

Richie McCaw of New Zealand

Richie McCaw is the greatest openside flanker of all time, the New Zealand captain won back-to-back World Cups

Ireland's Fergus Slattery representing the Lions

Major teams: University College Dublin, Blackrock College
 Country: Ireland Test span: 1970-84 Ireland caps: 61 (61 starts) Lions caps: 4 (4 starts) Test points: 12 (3T) With an all-court game…

Michael Jones of New Zealand

Major teams: Auckland, Blues Countries: Western Samoa, New Zealand
 Test span: 1986-98 Western Samoa caps: One (one start) New Zealand caps: 55 (54 starts) Test points: 56 (13T) John Hart’s…

Wavell Wakefield of England

Major teams: Harlequins, Leicester Position: Openside flanker Country: England Test span: 1920-27 Test caps: 31 (31 starts) Test points: 18 (6T) Nowadays administrators devise the laws and players just play,…