The finest players in the world sometimes don’t quite manage to produce their best on the biggest stage of all.
Others seem fired up by the global attention, playing in ways they never could for their club to become one of the Rugby World Cup Greatest Players.
Here are 20…
Rugby World Cup Greatest Players:
20. Michael Jones (New Zealand)
Arguably the best No. 7 to ever play the game, Michael Jones seemed to save his best for World Cups. In 1987 he burst onto the scene and was arguably the best player at the tournament. He was a skilful player, while also possessing the abilities required by an openside flanker, making for a deadly combination.
19. Brian Lima (Samoa)
Lima’s contribution to Samoan rugby was perhaps greater than that of any player to their respective country. He appeared in five World Cups (1991-2007), reaching the quarterfinals twice, toppling some top opposition along the way. Without a doubt one of the Rugby World Cup Greatest Players.
18. John Kirwan (New Zealand)
Kirwan was to the 1987 tournament what Campese was to the 1991 tournament. It was here that the speedster cemented his name not just amongst World Cup greats, but amongst all-time greats, proving to be at times virtually unstoppable.
17. Matt Burke (Australia)
The Aussie was considered one of the best fullbacks and goal kickers of his era, and these skills were on full display for the world to marvel in during the 1999 Rugby World Cup final. While hardly a classic match it was one in which Burke’s goal kicking, positional play and defense were phenomenal.
16. Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)
If you were building an ideal midfielder, it would most likely end up being something like Ma’a Nonu. Big, strong, explosive, with a great support game and rock solid on defence are the key to Nonu’s game, and all these attributes were on show in both his Rugby World Cup finals in 2011 and 2015.