Following on from our recent article of discussion in which we outlined who we feel are the top five openside flankers in the game of rugby union at the moment’; now that the European rugby season has come to a conclusion, it is time to look on another aspect of the season just gone by.
To that end we will move away from the pack and have a look at the full-back position so as to ascertain who is atop the current pile when it comes to the ranking of the hierarchy.
Hogg has proven himself to be among the worlds premier full-backs over the last number of years with powerful performances in what must be said aren’t exactly world beater teams in the shape of Glasgow Warriors and Scotland.
However what we have seen is the quality of Hogg help enhance these teams into quality sides, from being the perennial wooden-spoon beneficiaries of the 6 Nations to one which looks for a result in every match played.
Hogg’s electrifying speed and insatiable attitude see him serve as a genuine threat whenever he has ball in hand while also being a fearless leader in defence, putting his body on the line time-and-time again. Hogg’s recent acceptance of the RBS 6 Nations Player of the Tournament award serves as testament to the Warrior’s quality.
Named as the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership Player of the Year, Goode was imperative in Saracens double winning season.
Providing an assured presence under pressure behind the backline, Goode serves as a considerable attacking threat what with his superior, instinctive tactical acumen coupled with his creative attacking arsenal.
While unfortunate to not have featured during England’s historic series whitewash of the Wallabies, many pundits are now calling for Goode’s inclusion into the first XV as Mike Brown has been putting in some unspectacular performances.
In the wake of the retirement of New Zealand’s greatest leaders in the form of the aforementioned Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, Ben Smith has stood up to the mantle to take on one of the main leadership roles within the Kiwi camp. His appointment as vice-captain serves as testament to this fact.
Smith’s value lies in the fact that while being a versatile player, which provides a sense of assurance and stability; from out-half to full-back Smith adapts to each role so well that he acts as another world class exponent in the All Black backline as if that had been his first and foremost position. The man just doesn’t have a weakness or blemish in his game.
Dagg’s recent return from the international wilderness to the All Blacks playing squad has served as a timely reminder of the man’s sheer quality and class.
Having been ousted for the position by Ben Smith last year due to a combination of factors such as injuries and a poor run of form, the 2016 Israel Dagg looks to have returned to the player of old. At the top of his game there are few players more dangerous in attack than the Crusader as he can literally create something out of nothing and serves as a constant threat to opposing teams what with his willingness to run first, kick second.
Dagg looks very much settled back into the mindset which saw him collate nearly fifty caps for his country before dropping off and should be central to Steve Hansen’s plans moving forward.
One of the most athletically gifted players in the game, a person of Folau’s speed, size, strength and stature could apply his arsenal to nearly any sport and still exude all the qualities of a world class talent.
While perhaps still prone to the odd error and frailties in defence, there is arguably no-one more clinical under the high ball or terrifying when in all-out attack mode.
While as of late he has been predisposed at centre for the Waratahs and with good effect, Folau’s test position remains firmly at fifteen as he utilises his imposing figure to terrify opposing defences.