In no particular order, here are the 10 most underrated rugby players currently gracing the international stage without much recognition. This is not to say they aren’t already seen as good players, more that they haven’t yet been fully recognised for their contributions on the biggest stage. It also does not suggest they are necessarily world beaters, more that they are undervalued by fans and coaches.
Fans around the world are aware of Dusautoir’s brilliance, but it seems that many people still don’t realise how important he is to the French team. When he is in the side they seem to gain a certain level of composure that they can so often lack which was evident as his recent return to the side coincided with an improvement in their results during November.
Harley has been in and out of the Scotland side over the last few years, struggling to hold down a place until recently despite a series of impressive performances. The problem for Harley seems to be that so much of the work he does goes unnoticed unlike his competitors for the position who are more likely to put in big hits or make runs out on the wings.
The importance of Toomua to the Wallabies backline has been noted by many, but has been somewhat overshadowed by the performance of his colleague Tevita Kuridrani. Toomua however brings a playmaking ability to an already impressive Australian backline that has brought the talent around him into games and allowed Bernard Foley to easily settle into the 10 jersey.
Fans around the world are aware of Kaino’s influence and ability, but may not realise just how good he is. Not only has he kept an impressive Liam Messam out of the All Blacks starting lineup, but he has also brought an impressive ball carrying ability to the side that they were perhaps missing during his stint in Japan.
The Welsh full back may still be suffering slightly for his moment of madness against the Springboks this year. However, when he has started for Wales recently he has been absolutely exceptional, especially when wearing the 15 shirt and will be challenging Leigh Halfpenny hard for a starting place when the World Cup kicks off.
England fans are aware of Launchbury’s talents, but many underestimate just how important he is to the side. His tireless work rate, tackles and turnovers were a huge loss for England during the recent international series and his potential absence for the Six Nations will be keenly felt by the England coaching staff.
Whilst the plaudits recently may have gone to Cian Healy and Jack McGrath for a series of impressive performances, Ross’ importance to Ireland has been somewhat underestimated. He has ensured that Ireland have had a top quality platform from which to work off, especially given the troubles their scrum was having not so long ago.
Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger may have been receiving the media praise during 2014, however Coetzee has been somewhat ignored amongst the applause. He has been a key man for the Springboks over the last couple of years, quietly and effectively going about his business, making hard yards and big tackles.
Campagnaro has been one of the most impressive centres in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 12 months, yet many rugby fans still won’t know his name. The Italian centre was pivotal in much of Italy’s best moments during the Six Nations and has continued his good form throughout 2014. He is definitely one to keep an eye on next year.
Fotuali’i is one of the best scrum halves in world rugby, and yet because he plays for Samoa he is regularly overlooked by the press when it comes to naming teams of the year. Fotuali’i is the key cog in the Samoan side, ensuring they are capable of competing with some of the top teams in the world and leading his team effectively at every opportunity.
Who do you think is rugby’s most underrated player?