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The Five Best Number 8s In World Rugby At Present

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Lucas Noguera of Argentina (R) and Santiago Cordero of Argentina (L) attempt to stop Billy Vunipola of England during the Old Mutual Wealth Series match between England and Argentina at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Number 8 is one of the most important positions on the field tactically, as the players who feature there are often the link between the forwards and the backs, and are used as a team’s ball carrier when go-forward is needed.

Here we take a look at the five best players in the position today.

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5. Facundo Isa (Argentina)

Isa has been one of the standout players for an ever-improving Argentina side, and the 23-year-old is going at a serious rate of improvement, quickly establishing himself as one of the best in the business.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 12: Facundo Isa of Argentina collects a high ball under pressure from George North of Wales during the International Match between Wales and Argentina at Principality Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

The Jaguares loose forward has a fantastic carrying and offloading ability. His 66 carries throughout the November internationals is more than any of his rivals on this list, but he is yet to properly establish himself consistently on the world stage. However, as the youngest player to make the top five watch this space.

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4. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Consistently one of Ireland’s best players, and the veteran of two Lions tours looks set to make a third as he was nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year. His game is incredibly varied, having a prominent role for Ireland both in attack and defence.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 19: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland (L) attempts to run past Ardie Savea of New Zealand (R) during the International match between Ireland and New Zealand All Blacks at Aviva Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With 96 international caps, he is the second most experienced player on this list and has constantly been an outstanding performer for Ireland since his debut in 2006.

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3. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

The son of former Tongan international Kili, Taulupe Faletau has firmly established himself on the world stage. He may have been out injured for the majority of the November internationals, but Faletau is without doubt one of the finest No. 8s in the game.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Taulupe Faletau of Wales wins a line out during the international match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The Bath man is probably the favourite to start in the Lions tour next year with Warren Gatland as coach, and has an all round game that caused the All Blacks some headaches during the summer.

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2. Billy Vunipola (England)

England’s go-to man has been exceptional this November, and will be severely missed against Australia having been injured against Argentina.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Billy Vunipola of England runs with the ball during the Old Mutual Wealth Series match between England and Argentina at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The 32 times England international was born in Tonga and raised in Wales, but has fended off challenges from Ben Morgan and Thomas Waldrom to become England’s undisputed best number 8, and this season has taken his game to another level.

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1. Kieran Read (New Zealand)

When you’re captain of perhaps the most successful sports team in the world, a lot is expected of you, and Kieran Read is the epitome of what a number 8 should be.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 19: Kieran Read of the All Blacks makes a break during the international rugby match between Ireland and the New Zealand All Blacks at Aviva Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

A class act in attack and unrelenting in defence, the All Black skipper was voted World Rugby (IRB at the time) Player of the Year in 2013. The Crusaders man is virtually irreplaceable for the Kiwis and, as the most capped player on this list, he certainly deserves the title of best No. 8 in world rugby.

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Disagree with this list? Feel free to leave comments and suggestions on our Facebook page.

Oscar Reilly, Pundit Arena

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Author: 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.