7. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa/Toulon)
What they said: “Has the physical edge and abrasiveness you expect from a South African second row, while he’s a real lineout technician at 6ft 8ins tall. But he also possesses startling pace and is comfortable with ball in hand.”
Out thoughts: We’d actually have Lood de Jager in the top ten rather than Etzebeth.
6. Antoine Dupont (France)
What they said: “He is the classic livewire French scrum-half and you give him space at your peril, such is his running ability in broken play. Take your eye off him and he’s gone.”
Out thoughts: An incredible talent, but we’re not sure he’d be above Faf de Klerk in our ranking. We don’t like to use the term ‘golden boy’ too much, but for the 23-year-old we will make an exception. A superstar in the making.
5. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand/Blues)
What they said: “Not many people can lay claim to being among the very best in two positions, but that’s the case with Barrett who has proved himself to be equally accomplished at both fly-half and full-back, lighting games up with his individual brilliance.”
Out thoughts: The playmaker is now third on the All Blacks all-time Test points-scoring list. With devastating speed, a laser-like boot and smart game management, Beauden Barrett has been in electrifying form for the All Blacks in recent seasons, winning back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year Awards in 2016 and 2017.
4. Maro Itoje (England/Saracens)
What they said: “Just the full package, with the ability to wrap himself around opponents at the maul and around the ball at the breakdown, while also leaping at the lineout, rampaging upfield as a carrier and scything down anything that moves.”
Out thoughts: The best English player since Jonny Wilkinson. The 25-year-old is almost. the perfect player. A future England or Lions captain? Why not?