Continuing on in our top 10 series, this time we take a look at the 10 best Number 8’s in rugby right now and rank them based on current form.
10. Wycliff Palu
Palu has had a solid season so far culminating in the Waratahs maiden Super Rugby title. This has ensured Palu will be wearing the Wallabies Number 8 shirt during the Rugby Championship and looks set to keep hold of it through until the World Cup if he can maintain his current form.
9. Jamie Heaslip
The Irish number 8 was a key member of his sides Six Nations triumph earlier this year and has continued on where he left off. A key leader both on and off the field with an athleticism that would see him make an excellent flanker, Heaslip leads from the front and helps get his side go forward at every opportunity.
8. Toby Faletau
The Welsh number 8 has been a key find by Warren Gatland as he continues to progress in his development. Despite not being particularly big for an 8, Faletau seems to have an impressive ability to break tackles and get over the gainline for his side. He also continues to be one of the shining stars in ad admittedly average Dragons side.
7. Damien Chouly
French Number 8 Damien Chouly has been one of the few positives from a dire year so far for the French. In both the Six Nations and June Internationals, Chouly managed to make a positive impact whilst many of those around him seemed happy to sit back and watch. If he can continue in his current vein of form then he could be key to French hopes in the World Cup.
6. Billy Vunipola
Vunipola has been a key man for England over the last 18 months, providing Stuart Lancaster’s side with some much needed go-forward in up-front. His move to Saracens last year seems to have been the making of Vunipola as he trimmed down and improved his fitness notably, although this is one area he could still improve on.
5. Duane Vermualen
The Springboks man has been a solid performer for club and country, doing plenty of the dirty work even if much of it goes unnoticed. A solid ball carrier who isn’t afraid of a tackle, Vermualen provides the Springboks with much of their characteristic impetus as he continues to make hard yards and isn’t afraid of showing opponents ‘whose boss’.
4. Samu Manoa
Manoa is possible one of the most underrated players outside of the Aviva Premiership, if he played for one of the top 10 IRB nations there’s no doubts he would have many more plaudits. Comfortable playing at 8 or in the second row, Manoa is an absolute monster around the pitch making huge hits and bouncing players off as he makes plenty of ground ball in hand.
3. Sergio Parisse
At times it seems like Parisse is almost single handedly dragging the Italian side through games whether they want to or not. An inspirational leader for the Azzurri who has the kind of skillset not seen since the days of Zinzan Brooke, Parisse really is the man who has it all. It really is a rare occasion when you see him make a mistake during a game.
2. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe
Second place was a very close call between Lobbe and Parisse, however the Argentine won out after having had such a successful season for Toulon. Lobbe is another Number 8 who has an incredibly well rounded skillset and is a fine leader on the pitch. He has also been one of the few players to consistently perform for Los Pumas.
1. Kieran Read
This one was a bit of a no brainer really. Voted IRB Player of the Year in 2013, Read has not just been the stand-out Number 8 in the world, but the stand-out player. The All Blacks may still look like a solid unit without him, but with him they look a completely different team as he uses his varied skill-set to ensure they consistently have go-forward momentum.
Who do you think is the best number 8 in the world right now?