Continuing on in our top 10 series, this time we take a look at the 10 best locks in rugby right now and rank them based on current form.
10. Will Skelton
The giant Waratahs lock has had a breakthrough season in Super Rugby which has resulted in him earning his first caps for the Wallabies. Although far from the finished product, if Skelton can improve his fitness then it looks likely he will be a starter for the Wallabies for years to come as he combines his size and strength with a deftness you would not expect from such a big man.
9. Paul O’Connell
O’Connell is one of the wiliest operators in rugby these days using every trick in the book to help give his team the advantage. The kind of player who leaves nothing out on the pitch every time he plays, he leads from the front and constantly displays his leadership skills. Still one of the most fearsome locks in world rugby.
8. Alun-Wyn Jones
Jones has been one of the key men in the Welsh pack over the past couple of years combining his abrasive style of play with lineout skills and leadership to lead by example. Although maybe not quite the force he was a couple of years ago he’s still one of the best in his position and will be key to Welsh hopes in the World Cup.
7. Courtney Lawes
After a couple of mixed seasons, Lawes finally seems to have got his head down and is now looking like one of the most complete locks in world rugby. We’ve always known about his powerful style of play resulting in plenty of huge hits, but he has reigned that in slightly to improve his discipline whilst also building the lineout side of his game.
6. Bakkies Botha
Bakkies Botha may be getting on a bit now, but his move to Toulon seems to have reinvigorated him. Possibly the most aggressive player on the planet, he is a fearsome opponent and certainly isn’t afraid of a confrontation. Although he may not have the legs he used to he still makes plenty of impact during the game time he has for club and country.
5. Joe Launchbury
Joe Launchbury seems to be able to just keep going, no matter who he’s playing against. He works fantastically well as an additional back row player getting involved in the breakdowns and providing a ball carrying option. With plenty of years still ahead of him, his partnership with Lawes looks like one of the best in the game right now.
4. Victor Matfield
It’s amazing to think that last year Matfield wasn’t even playing rugby having retired from the game. It is a testament to him as a player that not only has he returned to playing, he has been recalled into the Springboks squad this year and doesn’t look at all out of place. He is such a great all rounder that any team would be glad to have him involved.
3. Sam Whitelock
Sam Whitelock makes up one half of the most impressive second row combination in world rugby today. His flourishing partnership with Brodie Rettalick has become the cornerstone of the All Blacks pack with Whitelock providing the subtlety to Rettalick’s brutality. A wiley lineout operator, Whitelock keeps the All Blacks machine ticking over during set pieces.
2. Eben Etzebeth
It’s unbelievable to think that Etzebeth is still so young given his style of play. Seemingly the natural successor to Bakkie Botha, his abrasive style of play gets in opponents faces and doesn’t back down, no matter what. His knockdown of Bismarck du Plessis just goes to show what a powerful operator he is.
1. Brodie Rettalick
Rettalick has been a monumental find for the All Blacks, providing them with a constant go forward option. His partnership with Sam Whitelock in the second row is flourishing thanks to the pair complementing one anothers skills so well. It seems that no matter what the job Rettalick is always up for it, both in attack and defence.
Who do you think is the best lock in the world right now?