A number of top All Blacks have back-pedalled dramatically in WalesOnline‘s annual top 50 list.
Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith all ranked at least 10 places lower than last year, with former All Blacks captain Kieran Read backtracking 17 places from 14th to 31st.
“This year saw Read’s All Black career wind down,” claimed WalesOnline. “He’s not the force he once was, but still a mighty fine No. 8 who will go down as one of the best New Zealand have produced.”
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Barrett, who ranked third in the 2018 survey, came in at fifth place this year. Still recognised as “the most prodigiously talented player in world rugby,” his positional switch failed to hit the mark, according to WalesOnline.
“A switch to fullback from fly half brings the debate of whether that’s best suited for his talents, but he’s still more than capable of bending and breaking defences as only he can,” Wales Online claimed.
Retallick ranked 18th and Smith 46th, while Richie Mo’unga was rated 10th in his rankings debut.
Ardie Savea was the only All Black to improve on last year’s ranking, jumping a stunning 42 places from 50th to eighth.
The New Zealand Player of the Year was described by Wales Online as “a dynamic back-rower blessed with speed, athleticism and an uncanny ability to keep the ball alive in the tackle”.
South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was recently crowned World Rugby’s Player of the Year, took out the top spot followed by Fiji’s Semi Radrada and Springboks halfback Faf de Klerk.
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