Last week we ranked the world’s best 10 full-backs, and it caused more than its fair share of debate. We will keep the ball rolling this week with the world’s top 10 fly-halves, and as ever, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, or on the Pundit Arena Rugby Facebook page.
10. Francois Trinh-Duc
Trinh-Duc looks likely to be the 10 who will start for France at the World Cup, following the shock squad announcement that Camille Lopez has been dropped for the Les Blues warm-up games. The 28 year-old has been a victim of France’s eratic selection policy, but has consistently shown for Montpellier that he is a 10 of genuine class.
Having recovered from a broken leg this season, he returns to the fold, despite not having played for France for over a year, with rumours of a tense relationship with coach Philippe Saint-Andre. Trinh-Duc is France’s best fly-half available, and if given time, can provide much needed stability to this French side.
9. Morne Steyn
Steyn is still at the top of his game. Stade Francais’ march to the Top 14 title is a testament to that. Steyn kicked all twelve of the Parisians’ points in the final against Clermont.
Going forward with ball in hand, he may not be up there with others on this list, but impecible kicking, paired with rock solid defence ensures that he is a top quality 10.
8. Patrick Lambie
It’s hard to believe that Lambie is just 24 years of age, even though he already has 63 caps to his name. His versatility ensures that the emergence of Handré Pollard will not completely hinder Lambie’s international career.
Lambie is the type of 10 who can really hurt a team, and is one of the best in the business. Lambie has a role to play for South Africa this World Cup, and can help them surprise the rugby community.
7. Bernard Foley
Australia’s fly-half comes in at seventh on this list. Australia boast one of the strongest sets of outside backs in the world at present, and need a 10 who can harness them.
Foley’s winning kick in last year’s Super Rugby Final will live long in the memory, and shows that he has the nerve for the biggest stage. Having filled in for Quade Cooper last year for the Wallabies, he grew into his role, and has impressed for both Australia and the Waratahs since.
6. George Ford
Stuart Lancaster lost his patience with Owen Farrell, and has backed Ford for the World Cup. Going by the 22 year-old’s performances this season, the England coach has made an inspired choice.
Having put in impressive showings for both Bath and England this year, there is little wonder why there has been so much hype surrounding the youngster, and is growing in confidence by the game. With a solid kicking game, Ford’s attacking nous and game management are complimented ten-fold, and is fast becoming one of the top 10s in the Northern Hemisphere.
5. Dan Carter
Yes, Carter has had more than his fair share of injuries. And yes, the Crusaders missed the Super Rugby play-offs. But this was in spite of some impressive performances from Carter towards the end of the campaign.
However, at 33, is Carter the man to lead New Zealand at the World Cup? The oldest fly-half to appear in a World Cup Final was Stephen Larkham in 2003, at 29. But Carter is no ordinary 10. We all know what he is capable of, and this season, there have been glimpses of the Dan Carter that has dominated world rugby.
4. Aaron Cruden
With slim chances of making the World Cup due to an ACL injury, Cruden may struggle to return to the heights he has hit in the past. At his brilliant best, Cruden is arguably the best in the business at present, but with such a major injury, it is difficult to know how he will recover.
280 points in his 37 caps for New Zealand says it all, especially considering that few of those caps were a full 80 minutes. It would be a blow to the World Cup if Cruden does not make it.
3. Handré Pollard
Pollard burst onto the international landscape during last year’s Rugby Championship, single-handedly dismantling the All-Blacks in Johannesburg, resulting in the Kiwis’ first loss since 2012. At just 21, Pollard is going to lead the Springboks for years to come.
With superb running, kicking, and game-management, Pollard is a perfectly rounded out-half. He has the South Africa 10 shirt safely nailed down, and can concentrate fully on getting everything right for the World Cup.
2. Jonathan Sexton
Undoubtedly the top 10 in Northern Hemisphere rugby at present, Sexton has guided Ireland to back-to-back 6 Nations titles. Following a relatively unsuccessful stint at Racing Metro, the Dubliner returns to Leinster, where he won three Heineken Cups in four years.
The 29 year-old is hitting his peak at the right time with the World Cup just around the corner, and if he can stay fit and continue to deliver, there is no reason why Ireland cannot fulfill their dark-horses tag in the Autumn.
1. Beauden Barrett
Barrett is the complete 10, and should Steve Hansen select the 24 year-old as the starting 10 at the World Cup, the All-Blacks will be hard to stop. However, this is something Hansen appears reluctant to do, prefering that Barrett takes on an impact role.
Having recovered from a minor injury, he is back for the Hurricanes, and will be eager to bring them all the way this year. In Cruden, Slade, Carter, and Barrett, New Zealand boast an embarrassment of riches at 10. It is this writer’s opinion that Barrett should be at the top of this pile.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know!
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.
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