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.

Richie McCaw of New Zealand

All Black Richie McCaw is the greatest openside flanker of all time and as captain won back-to-back World Cups

Rugby's Greatest: George Smith

Eddie Jones calls the Wallaby flanker the greatest player he has coached. George Smith was something special

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…

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…