All Blacks rank prominently in top 50 rugby players of the year list

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In a list which saw Fijian Semi Radradra, who plays for Pat Lam's Bristol club side in England's Premiership, rated No1 ahead of French halfback Antoine Dupoint at No2 and Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe at No3, in spite of playing no Test rugby in 2020, the highest-rating All Black was halfback Aaron Smith at No.5.

 

WOL commented: "The All Black scrum-half will consider himself unfortunate to have missed out on World Rugby's team of the decade recently. Regardless, his form in 2020 has been stellar."

 

Fullback-first five-eighths Beauden Barrett was ranked No9. "No player has been involved in more Test tries since 2016 than Barrett. Quite simply a joy to watch – often seeing opportunity where others see risk," it said.

 

New All Blacks captain Sam Cane picked up the No11 ranking. "A challenging debut season for the new All Blacks captain, but he ended it being crowned New Zealand's player of the year as his team rallied to win the [Investec] Rugby Championship."

 

Right behind Cane was fellow loose forward Ardie Savea at No12.

 

"Eddie Jones loves to talk about hybrid players. Savea might just be the closest we've got to that in the world game. Consistently makes copious metres after contact whether he's playing six, seven or eight," WOL said.

 

Hooker Dane Coles was ranked No14. "Arguably redefined the role of a modern hooker when he burst onto the scene. The All Black is still going strong."

 

First five-eighths Richie Mo'unga was one place further back at No15. "The [Investec] Super Rugby Aotearoa player of the tournament, Mo'unga also had his moments at Test level, most notably with a devastating two-try display in the 43-5 hammering of Australia on Halloween."

Although he didn't play any Test rugby lock Brodie Retallick was the last of the New Zealanders to be selected, at No25 with the WOL commenting, "Been a little inactive recently with his break, but the New Zealand lock still up there. Combines old-school hardness with modern day skills and athleticism."

 

While all lists are subjective it does seem unusual that non-Test performers like Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and 2019 Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit can be ranked at No6 and No7 respectively along with Kolbe at No3.

 

This flaw is further compounded when the player who was the architect of Argentina's historic win over the All Blacks in Australia, Nicolas Sanchez, is listed only at No47.

 

It could also be argued that Argentina captain and flanker Pablo Matera deserved a better ranking than the No8 he was given. As jolts in world rugby went in 2020, Argentina's effort was one of the biggest as Matera led from the front.

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