As ever, the debate over the best rugby players in the world is always going to be a contentious one. Rugby fans will always have their favourites, whether this be based on club or international loyalties. There will however be players who are loved and loathed in equal measure for their ability on the field. Here are the top 10 rugby players based on their form since the beginning of the 2014 season;
1. Israel Folau
Since Folau crossed-codes to join Union he has been an instant success at both club and international level. This season has been no different as he has helped lead the Waratahs to the top of the Super Rugby Championship and Australia to a 3-0 series win over France. He is without doubt one of the finest players in rugby right now.
2. Vereniki Goneva
The Fijian flyer was in sensational form for Leicester Tigers this season as he made sure his side didn’t feel the absence of Manu Tuilagi too keenly. Goneva finished as the Premierships top try scorer this season as he steam-rollered his way to the try line on 12 different occasions both on the wing and i the centres.
3. Nemani Nadolo
Despite having all the physical attributes of a forward, Nadolo has taken Super Rugby by storm this season. His form has helped lead the Crusaders to the top of the New Zealand conference whilst an impressive outing in the June internationals for Fiji only further heightened his stock in the world rugby order.
4. Michael Hooper
Hoopers season so far has culminated in taking over the Wallabies captaincy at just 22 years of age. It’s no coincidence that Hooper’s recent form has coincided with a solid international series for Australia and the Waratahs bossing the Super Rugby championship.
5. Matt Giteau
The former Wallaby seems to have rediscovered his love of the game since moving to the French south coast. The Toulon centre may have been over-shadowed somewhat by Jonny Wilkinson’s retirement from the game, however his form this season has led to calls for him to be reinstated into the Wallabies set-up.
6. Mike Brown
Brown may have ended the season on a bit of a downer, especially after a disappointing international series in June by his usual high standards. It is however impossible to overlook the impact he has had for both club and country this season as he currently seems to be in the form of his life.
7. Ben Smith
It seems like no matter where you play Ben Smith at the moment he is able to perform at the very best of his ability. His play from full back during the All Blacks three match test series against England proved that right now Smith is clearly one of the very best players in world rugby both in offence and defence.
8. Julian Savea
The All Blacks wing is currently one of the most deadly finishers in world rugby. Whether barging his way through swathes of defenders or finding space where seemingly there is none, he always finds a way to get over the try line. His absence from the first test this June was a big blow for the All Blacks.
9. Willie le Roux
Unfortunately the Cheetahs have had yet another disappointing season in Super Rugby, however le Roux has been one of few shining lights for the franchise. It was on the international stage however were he really shone as he became the beating heart of the Springboks attack.
10. Samu Manoa
Whilst America may currently be a fledgling force on the international stage, there is no doubting that some real talent is emerging from the country. Samu Manoa is one such player as his form in a whole range of positions for Northampton this season has helped them win the Premiership and Challenge Cup.
Who do you think is the best player in rugby right now?