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The two Lions Kaino rates as among the best back rows in the world

By Josh Raisey

Trending on RugbyPass

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Two-time World Cup winner Jerome Kaino has included British and Irish Lions picks Justin Tipuric and Sam Simmonds in his list of the world’s best flankers.

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Kaino joined Christina Mahon and Jamie Roberts on RugbyPass Offload last week, and was asked who he thinks are the best flankers in the world currently.

“Who I really enjoy watching play out of loose forwards, I’d say Ardie Savea, Justin Tipuric, I love watching that guy play,” the Toulouse back row said.

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“I’m going to have to pick four, I’m going to go Sam Simmonds and Gregory Alldritt here in France.”

Kaino went head-to-head with Alldritt last Saturday in the Heineken Champions Cup final, as Toulouse overcame La Rochelle 22-17 at Twickenham. The 81-cap former All Black was also a nominee for European player of the year at the age of 38, although he was beaten to that award by his teammate Antoine Dupont.

The drawn Lions series in 2017 was Kaino’s international swansong, and he clearly feels Warren Gatland is equipped with two of the world’s best loose forwards ahead of the series with world champions South Africa.

Wales’ Tipuric will likely be competing with Tom Curry and Hamish Watson to see who wears the No7 jersey against the Springboks, while England’s Simmonds will provide cover across the back row, and could prove to be a devastating option from the bench. This is another glowing endorsement for the Exeter Chiefs No8, who has failed to earn a Test cap since 2018.

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Since his Test retirement, Kaino’s compatriot Savea has also become a prominent figure in the All Blacks’ back row, and was a nominee for World Rugby player of the year in 2019. Like Kaino, the 27-year-old can switch between flanker and No8, and wore the No8 jersey exclusively for New Zealand in 2020 following Kieran Read’s retirement.

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The two Lions Kaino rates as among the best back rows in the world

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