There was some brilliant rugby played in 2019, with many great individual performances throughout the year. JOHN GOLIATH picks 10 players who stood out during a bumper year of rugby.
10. Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)
The ‘Beast’ was sensational in the World Cup final and capped off his international career in fine style. His performance in the scrum laid the platform for the Springboks’ famous win.
9. Semi Radrada (Fiji)
His World Cup was cut short after Fiji blew an opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals, but Radrada showed that he is one of most destructive backs in world rugby. The big guy can run, step and has the hands of a concert pianist.
8. Tom Curry (England)
This kid is going to have a stellar international career after his breakthrough year. His work-rate at the World Cup was almost unmatched, and tackled everything that moved in his direction. His work at the breakdown was phenomenal.
7. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
Savea was one of the All Blacks’ most consistent players. Showed his versatility by switching between openside and blindside flank throughout the year. Immense on the ground, but also a fantastic player with ball in hand.
6. Kyle Sinckler (England)
Part of a new generation of tighthead props who can scrum well, but can also contribute a lot around the park. He put in a top performance in the semi-final against the All Blacks, showing his skill with marvelous link play to go with his ball-carrying.
5. Maro Itoje (England)
This guy played a massive part in England’s semi-final demolition of the All Blacks with his ferocious defending and his outstanding play in the lineouts. Epitomises the modern-day lock with his physicality and intelligent play.
4. Faf de Klerk (South Africa)
Faced fierce criticism for the plethora of kicks he launched throughout the year. But he was the heart of of the Bok team and the primary playmaker that made the South Africans tick. He was also key to South Africa’s high-risk defensive structure.
3. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
Was moved to fullback during the World Cup and showed his class with a string of top performances. Barrett remains one of the fastest rugby players on the planet, but it’s his ability to combine that with his rugby intelligence that sets him apart from his peers.
2. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
The World Rugby Player of the Year is a man of few words. It seems like he saves his energy for the rugby field, as he tackles, carries and hits more rucks than the average human on a rugby pitch. He is also one of the smartest players, with a lot of game awareness and anticipation.
1. Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)
He just missed out on the official award, but the Springboks’ hot-stepper must have been close to winning the award. He has become one of the most dangerous outside backs in the world, with his ability to create something out of nothing. His dangerous step makes him a big draw card for fans, but he is also a top defender, who fight way above his weight.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images