Home Rugby Analysis: The Top 5 Rugby Union Players Right Now All Wear New Zealand Black

Analysis: The Top 5 Rugby Union Players Right Now All Wear New Zealand Black

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand celebrates with teammate Julian Savea on his try during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at AMI Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

The 2016 All Blacks have broken records throughout the season as consistently as they have broken the hearts of opposition supporters.

As they march towards a world record number of consecutive wins, we wonder – do they currently have the top five best rugby players on the planet? And in what order would those players be?

Our top five players in the world are listed below:

1. Beauden Barrett

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand looks on during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at AMI Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

For sheer influence on games, no player can compare to the form Beauden Barrett has displayed this year. He is the leading points scorer in the Rugby Championship, and in the top three of all other attacking statistics (metres gained, defenders beaten, clean breaks). The fly-half has matured into his role and is playing with a confidence which makes freakish plays an every match occurrence.

2. Ben Smith

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Ben Smith of New Zealand makes a break during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Waikato Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Ben Smith’s form has been immaculate in 2016 whether it be as a wing or in his preferred full back role. Three tries and the highest metres gained, defenders beaten and clean breaks. Intelligent contributions, incisive incisions into the backline and an unstoppable combination with the other Smith on this list. He’s a very close second to Barrett in the top five.

3. Aaron Smith

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 25: Aaron Smith of New Zealand on the attack during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 25, 2016 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

Warren Gatland called him the best player in the world but some inconsistency in the Rugby Championship means he’s number three on our list. Bounced back to his best with an outstanding game against South Africa with his bullet passes, astute kicking and deceptive running game to the fore. The pace of the All Blacks’ play is built around Smith’s lightning deliveries from the breakdown.

4. Dane Coles

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Dane Coles of New Zealand competes for the ball against Martin Landajo of Argentina during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Waikato Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Happy hooker Coles has beaten nine defenders, made five clean breaks and, oh, set up three tries in his last game against Argentina. With the pace and skills of a midfielder, he efficiently performs all his core duties at scrum and line out time – the All Blacks have a 93% line out success rate in the Rugby Championship – and then adds touches in general play which have never been seen from a front rower. Ever.

5. Kieran Read

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Kieran Read of New Zealand is tackled by Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel of South Africa during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at AMI Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Just shades Jerome Kaino out of the top five, but Read’s industry and influence around the field must be recognised. Highest number of tackles for the All Blacks (41, tied with Sam Whitelock), and easily the highest number of line out catches (19) in the Championship. He might not be making the sensational offloads of previous seasons, but his leadership and control in key areas remain integral to the All Blacks’ success.

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What do you think?

Should any of England’s Roses such as Maro Itoje or Owen Farrell be in this esteemed lineup? Is young Argentinian buck Facundo Isa another contender? Should a resurgent Will Genia be included? Or have we neglected the talents of other All Blacks?

Join the conversation over on our Pundit Arena Rugby Facebook page.

Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena

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About The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.