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The best 3 players in the world by position: The World Class 45 - #4/5 Locks

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Who are the best locks in the game?

The best 3 players in the world by position: The World Class 45 - #4/5 Locks Vote_lcap40%The best 3 players in the world by position: The World Class 45 - #4/5 Locks Vote_rcap 40% 
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Total Votes : 20
 
 
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Post by Sgt_Pooly Sun 12 Dec 2021, 5:33 am

1. Loose-Head Prop https://www.606v2.com/t70475-the-best-3-players-in-the-world-by-position-the-world-class-45-1-loose-head-prop
2. Hooker https://www.606v2.com/t70476-the-best-3-players-in-the-world-by-position-the-world-class-45-2-hooker
3. Tight-Head https://www.606v2.com/t70477-the-best-3-players-in-the-world-by-position-the-world-class-45-3-tight-head-prop

I seem to recall a good poster called Pete defining his best players in the world in each position at the end of every year and I thought I'd try and bring it back somewhat.

So, a little caveat....I've not watched as much rugby as I would have liked this year so I may be a bit off in some of my suggestions....I'm sure we can have a nice sensible discussion though, as we always do! I also may a have a slight English bias, go easy on me Welshies.

The criteria:

I'm selecting world class players......when I say world class, you have to be in the top 3 in your position. I'll possibly look to do 5 for locks/wingers due to different styles and sides.

#4/5 - Locks

It's time for the big boys! When I started watching rugby (lets say the 90's), locks were pretty much defined into 2 categories. You had your mean no 4 (the enforcer) who would saunter around the park starting fights and your no5, the skinny/lanky one who ran the lineout (Botha/Matfield being my favourite example). Over time, these lines have blurred.......locks need to be a bit of everything and they seemingly are required to play blindside too. I'm going to give you 6 locks to chose from and the most voted 2 will be selected in the final side.

Eben Etzebeth

The nearest thing to a modern day enforcer....Etzebeth is monster. 6'8" and 122kg of pretty much solid muscle (30kg in each bicep), he bullies opposition locks for breakfast. I recall Etzebeth breaking through for the Stormers and he was initially fantastic.....but, he had issues. Bakkies Botha was on the decline and Etzebeth wanted his shirt. He got too caught up in the handbags side and he game suffered. Fast forward......and he's now arguably the most physical lock on the planet and pretty handy in the set piece too.

Will Skelton

Maybe a bit of curve ball with him not having the best AI, but I'm a huge fan. Skelton is probably the biggest premier lock in the game....at 6'8" and around 140kg, he doesn't fly through the air that well shall we say. What he does do though....is dominate the opposition, make yards for fun and smash carriers back all game.....and he has great hands. When he burst into Super Rugby, he was too fat and too lazy. He was a 40min player at best, at very best. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but moving to Sarries was a complete game changer. Skelton shed 20kg++....he became mobile, he became awesome!

Maro Itoje

The modern day lock....the poster boy for English rugby, an athlete in every sense of the word....Itoje has always looked destined for greatness. As U20 Engalnd captain, he was just better than everyone else, it wasn't fair on the opposition. He's not particularly tall at 6'6" and he's not that heavy at around 115kg, but he just fronts up and does everything to high level. He can jump, he can steal, he can jackle....carry, tackle...etc etc. He's just good at rugby.

Brodie Retallick

The best lock in the game for what seems like forever, Retallick has everything (ok he's not the best looking but we can get passed that). For me, Retallick changed the way locks played the game. He's a big boy....lets not forget (6'8" and 122kg), but he just does everything so well. He's physical, very physical.....but those hands, those offloads! He may not be quite of the levels of a few years ago, but he's still right up there....and still only 30yo unbelievably.

Leone Nakarawa

When I think of top locks, I usually forget about Nakarawa, but is there a side that he wouldn't get into? He has good basics for a lock, nothing outstanding I think would be fair to say. What he does have though, is skills......this boy has skills! Nakarawa plays the game like he a Globetrotter plays basketball, he is insane. He offloads and carries for fun....and what makes him even more special, is he just doesn't make that many mistakes. He's a very special talent.

Alun Wyn Jones

Ok ok....perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm throwing in the big man as my final selection. Playing his 43rd season in row....Jones is something like 68yo, but age does not define this man. I used to wonder what he brought to the game if I'm honest, he wasn't hugely physical...he wasn't very good in the lineout, now I get it. Jones is a leader....he's the Welsh version of Johnson/O'Connell rolled into one. He fronts up, he leaves everything on the pitch....and lets be straight, he's rarely outplayed.

Notable mentions.........Sam Whitelock, Lodewyk de Jager, Tadhg Beirne, Bernard Le Roux, Guido Petti.


Last edited by Sgt_Pooly on Sun 12 Dec 2021, 8:12 am; edited 2 times in total

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sun 12 Dec 2021, 7:52 am

You can only vote for one here Sgt. But Itoje and Retallick. The latter being the best player in the world for me.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 12 Dec 2021, 9:17 am

For me, Etzebeth is a gimmee. Right now the best in the world. For the others on the list, I will go with Itoje, but that might simply be due to seeing him play more. That said, I'm not sure he is quite at his best, but the others on that list might be a hair off their as well. It is a good list.

By the way, Highlander was on last night, which I haven't seen in a very long time. Did you ever notice the resemblance between Retallick and the bad guy from Highlander?
The best 3 players in the world by position: The World Class 45 - #4/5 Locks Brodie-Retallick-for-New-Zealand-PAThe best 3 players in the world by position: The World Class 45 - #4/5 Locks Kurgan-bald-movie

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 12 Dec 2021, 1:00 pm

Itinerary and Etzebeth for me.
Retallick was the best but he is showing signs of wear and tear
Same for Wyn Jones.
Both have been great players in the past.

Nakarawa being on the list is a joke.
He doesn’t make the top 10 and probably not even the top 20.

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Post by The Oracle Sun 12 Dec 2021, 2:11 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Itinerary and Etzebeth for me.
Retallick was the best but he is showing signs of wear and tear
Same for Wyn Jones.
Both have been great players in the past.

Nakarawa being on the list is a joke.
He doesn’t make the top 10 and probably not even the top 20.

Jones. Or Alun Wyn. Or Alun Wyn Jones. Or AWJ. But never Wyn Jones! Wink Hug

Agree though. AWJ has been our most consistent player for years but he’s on his way out now.

Some say he was only capped so much because no one was better. That is of course a bit true, no one overtook him. But for me that was because he set the bar so high in Wales. I know lots don’t see what he adds, and perhaps he is not a tradition lock who just jumps in the line out and makes hard yards. For me it was his work rate that set I’m apart. Just a massive engine who could go all game. He was consistently up there with highest tackles in the game. The last 6N at his age i think he was something like 3rd highest tackler for the whole tournament. I know lots of other things come into it such as Wales needed to tackle more as we didn’t have much possession...... but we won the tournament so can’t have always been under the cosh, plus you need to actually make tackles to get stats on it. Pretty good for a 35 year old journeyman. I hear his the ultimate professional int training too (first in, last out) and off the pitch also, so a great role model.

His time has sadly come though I think. He’s gone from someone who was very rarely injured to two serious injuries within a year. I think he had a record at one point for number of consecutive international games. Really good durability in the modern game. But alas time has caught up with him.

I would not put him in the top 5 in the world on this year’s form. Not sure he’ll ever regain the form of the last few years.
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Post by lostinwales Sun 12 Dec 2021, 2:20 pm

The Oracle wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Itinerary and Etzebeth for me.
Retallick was the best but he is showing signs of wear and tear
Same for Wyn Jones.
Both have been great players in the past.

Nakarawa being on the list is a joke.
He doesn’t make the top 10 and probably not even the top 20.

Jones.  Or Alun Wyn.  Or Alun Wyn Jones.  Or AWJ.  But never Wyn Jones! Wink Hug

Agree though.  AWJ has been our most consistent player for years but he’s on his way out now.  

Some say he was only capped so much because no one was better.  That is of course a bit true, no one overtook him.  But for me that was because he set the bar so high in Wales. I know lots don’t see what he adds, and perhaps he is not a tradition lock who just jumps in the line out and makes hard yards.  For me it was his work rate that set I’m apart.  Just a massive engine who could go all game.  He was consistently up there with highest tackles in the game.  The last 6N at his age i think he was something like 3rd highest tackler for the whole tournament.  I know lots of other things come into it such as Wales needed to tackle more as we didn’t have much possession...... but we won the tournament so can’t have always been under the cosh, plus you need to actually make tackles to get stats on it. Pretty good for a 35 year old journeyman. I hear his the ultimate professional int training too (first in, last out) and off the pitch also, so a great role model.

His time has sadly come though I think.  He’s gone from someone who was very rarely injured to two serious injuries within a year.  I think he had a record at one point for number of consecutive international games.  Really good durability in the modern game. But alas time has caught up with him.  

I would not put him in the top 5 in the world on this year’s form. Not sure he’ll ever regain the form of the last few years.  

I know I do bang on about this but the importance of players like AWJ to their own teams can easily outweigh their 'top trump' scores relative to other similar player for other teams. Had he been English he would not have got anything like as many caps, but equally its hard to see the English locks of the same period having anything like the same impact for Wales had they been born across the border.

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Post by Old Man Sun 12 Dec 2021, 6:41 pm

I know it will seem biased for a South African to vote for Etzebeth, but there is simply no doubt in my mind he is currently the form lock in world rugby.

He had an outstanding season this year, played almost every match a full eighty minutes, his role this year increased to add chasing the box kick as well, I simply don't think there is a lock that had his workload this season, and yet he stood out in every match for SA.

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Post by dummy_half Mon 13 Dec 2021, 10:48 am

Etzebeth and Itoje would be a hell of a combination. Retallick slightly past his best and AWJ a bit further over the hill.

No doubt AWJ has been a very good player for Wales, but his cap numbers definitely reflect that there's been not a hugely deep talent pool behind him - i.e. best lock in Wales for a long time, but probably only the best lock in the UK for a period between O'Connell's decline and Itoje's emergence.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Mon 13 Dec 2021, 12:07 pm

Agreed on the combination with Dummy Half. Etzebeth is the best at the minute and has been there or thereabouts for much of the last 8-10 years it feels like. Itoje, as much as he had a rough Six Nations, would be the best in combination and has been near the top of the class for 5 years internationally and at club level.

After that, probably have Beirne (on current form), Retallick/Whitelock and De Jager. The NZ pair are coming to the end and my favourites to replace them are Woki and Ryan (an up and comer and a return to form respectively). Beirne has to solidify his spot and could fall back but he has had a strong couple of years cementing a place in an Ireland side with what many assumed was a Lion arriving (Ryan) and leaving (Henderson). De Jager is probably the best of the three SA back-up locks at the minute, though I prefer Snyman when healthy.

AWJ has done incredibly well to not look out of place internationally as he approaches the end but he means way more to Wales than to a scratch side. Hard to argue he imposed himself on the pitch for the Lions rather than off it with the articles on him (not his fault on the news coverage). I am not someone who was a fan so may be bias.

Skelton was only a sub for Australia to Rodda and Arnold (I think) against Scotland. Impressed me against Glasgow for La Rochelle on the weekend. I rate him as someone who when on form and in the mood can alter an international match...he just does not do it often enough. He should be in the mix with Etzebeth and Itoje, however I end up feeling like he is too nice to dominate and can't call him world class.

Nakarawa fell away after 2019 RWC. Don't know what happened to him mentally or physically but the decline as a rugby player was sad and sudden.


Last edited by Hazel Sapling on Mon 13 Dec 2021, 2:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Poor grammar)

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 13 Dec 2021, 1:42 pm

Old Man wrote:I know it will seem biased for a South African to vote for Etzebeth, but there is simply no doubt in my mind he is currently the form lock in world rugby.

He had an outstanding season this year, played almost every match a full eighty minutes, his role this year increased to add chasing the box kick as well, I simply don't think there is a lock that had his workload this season, and yet he stood out in every match for SA.
don’t see any bias here, mate. He simply seems to be playing at a higher level.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Mon 13 Dec 2021, 2:12 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
Old Man wrote:I know it will seem biased for a South African to vote for Etzebeth, but there is simply no doubt in my mind he is currently the form lock in world rugby.

He had an outstanding season this year, played almost every match a full eighty minutes, his role this year increased to add chasing the box kick as well, I simply don't think there is a lock that had his workload this season, and yet he stood out in every match for SA.
don’t see any bias here, mate.  He simply seems to be playing at a higher level.

A quality operator, but I suspect the number of issues he has had with player safety (other players) will count against him in what is partly a popularity contest.
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Post by Old Man Mon 13 Dec 2021, 2:22 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:
doctor_grey wrote:
Old Man wrote:I know it will seem biased for a South African to vote for Etzebeth, but there is simply no doubt in my mind he is currently the form lock in world rugby.

He had an outstanding season this year, played almost every match a full eighty minutes, his role this year increased to add chasing the box kick as well, I simply don't think there is a lock that had his workload this season, and yet he stood out in every match for SA.
don’t see any bias here, mate.  He simply seems to be playing at a higher level.

A quality operator, but I suspect the number of issues he has had with player safety (other players) will count against him in what is partly a popularity contest.

Player safety?

I do not recall any issues, please remind me.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Mon 13 Dec 2021, 3:00 pm

I am not the type that builds up a dossier of incidents, but I seem to remember a few punches against players on the floor, taking out players in the air comes to mind, the "tackle of Marcus Smith which when you look at how he is being held by the first tackler could have done major damage, apart from be at head height from behind where Smith could not see him coming.

I could be wrong, but the perception is there and when it comes to a vote, that is what counts.

Unless your initials are BJ, when everyone knows you are a useless lying Ba$turd and you still get vote for.
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Post by Old Man Mon 13 Dec 2021, 7:11 pm

Etzebeth is a clean player, has been for years, in fact I cannot recall the last time he was in trouble with a referee or even close to a citing.

One incident in a year does not form a pattern.

Anyone who has the perception of him being dirty, a thug, or illdisciplined need to watch more of his play, if there is a perception out there it cannot be further from the truth.

As for a popularity contest, Rassie Erasmus has created a negative vibe about the Springboks, we are likely the most unpopular team in world rugby at the moment. The mere fact that Etzebeth who has had a stellar year wasn't in the short list for world rugby player of the year attest to that.

It is what it is.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 14 Dec 2021, 12:04 pm

Imagine Itoje and Etzebeth....wow...that would be brutal!

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