The fans have voted and only two locks are left standing in the race to become the world’s best lock.
Punters worldwide hit the polls on RugbyPass’ Facebook and Instagram accounts as part of the Straight 8 Fan Vote campaign to decide the planet’s best players in each position, as voted by the fans.
After the first round of voting held earlier this week, only four second rowers remained, as England and British and Irish Lions representative Maro Itoje faced off against Irish powerhouse James Ryan.
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The all-European clash ended in a landslide victory for Itoje, whose efforts internationally and at club level with Saracens won him 73 percent of the votes across all platforms.
With two Six Nations, two Grand Slams, four Premierships, three European Champions Cups, 38 England tests, three British and Irish Lions tests and a World Rugby breakthrough player of the year accolade to his name, it will take plenty to stop Itoje from running away with the crown.
However, he has a serious contender standing in his way in the form of Springboks behemoth Etzebeth, who only just defeated All Blacks star Brodie Retallick by the barest of margins.
Backing up a tightly-fought win in the first round against Welsh veteran Alun Wyn Jones, Etzebeth came in with 50.5 percent of the votes to see off Retallick by only 147 votes.
The new Toulon recruit has forged a reputation as one of the toughest men in the business after accruing 85 tests for the Springboks and playing a core role in South Africa’s World Cup and Rugby Championship title-winning campaigns last year.
The 28-year-old has seemingly meet his match in Itoje, though, with the Englishman holding a healthy lead in the vote count with 16 hours on the clock remaining.
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