Welcome back to my “Top 5” rugby series. This 13-article series has been inspired by countless conversations among friends or other fans over the years and will see me selecting my top 5 men’s rugby players who are currently playing at each position.

With all of these lists, I am picking who I feel are the best 5 at each position, so there may be some surprises in there as I select the players who I feel are most appropriate to the position despite there being multiple ways to play many positions. I try to watch rugby from a broad range of leagues as well as plenty (or too much, depending how you ask) of Test matches, but I appreciate that I still have some blind spots, while a list like this is subjective; so while the majority of each article will be my list, I also set my good friend and occasional collaborator Phil the challenge to select his top 5, which I will include below. I’d also love to hear your picks, so go ahead and post them in the comments!

And so, let’s continue down the back line and look at the outside centres.

Top 5

Lukhanyo Am

A few years ago he was regarded as one of the best defensive 13s in the world… then the best defensive 13 in the world… then the best 13 in the world…now he is probably competing with Antoine Dupont to be called the best in the world. Always appears to make the right decision at just the right time, so solid in defence and able to truck the ball up, pass or kick as required.

Chris Harris

I remember being disappointed when it was announced that my team Gloucester were signing Chris Harris, as beck then he just seemed to be a very good defensive 13. Well roll the clock forward and he is now arguably one of the best defensive 3s in the game. Always appears to make the correct read in defence and knows when to hold back and when to blitz forward and make a big hit, while also covering the spaces that his teammates need. And the growth of a decent attacking game too certainly doesn’t hurt things either!

Jack Goodhue

That Goodhue’s last cap came in 2023 shows just how badly his career has been hit by injuries, but he remains a star and still has time to prove it on the internationals stage. A solid all-rounder in attack, Goodhue is another who excels with his reading of the game in defence, which result in him always being in the right place to stop an attack.

Len Ikitau

A player who has really snuck up on me to make his way onto this list. Took his chance when injuries opened up a spot in the 13 shirt for the Wallabies and quickly cemented his place in the team. Super reliable in attack, he’s also so reliable in his defence that he was able to shine defensively and succeed with the personnel around him changing each week during recent Australia matches. And at just 24 years old with 2 years of Test rugby behind him, he will just continue to improve over the coming years.

Garry Ringrose

A player who came onto the Test scene and was immediately hailed as the successor to Brian O’Driscoll, such was the hype about him in the early years that top quality performances are just expected from him these days. And yet somehow he never does appear to have a good game. A great dynamic attacker to balance outside Ireland’s more physical 12s, Ringrose is yet another player whose defensive reading of the game is spot on, and who you can always rely on to make the right decision between holding back in the line or flying out to make the man-and-ball tackle.

Phil’s top 5: Chris Harris, Lukhanyo Am, Henry Slade, Jonathan Danty, Anton Lienert-Brown

Who makes your top 5?

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