Jonathan Sexton only European in English paper's Top 10 rugby players in the world
Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton is the only player from the Northern Hemisphere to make it in to the top 10 of the Daily Telegraph’s 100 best rugby players on the planet.
The Leinster playmaker ranked number eight in the paper’s list of the Top 100 rugby union players in the world, sandwiched by New Zealand World Cup winners Conrad Smith Dan Carter.
Although he was far from his best in England and Wales, Sexton boasts a CV as good as any in the game, having steered Ireland to consecutive Six Nations, the Lions to a 2013 series win in Australia and Leinster to three Heineken Cups, a Challenge Cup and Pro 12 title.
The Telegraph were effusive in their praise of the 30-year-old, who recently returned to Leinster after a two-year sojourn in Paris with Racing Metro.
“The coming man in the fly-half stakes, Sexton has shown for Ireland as well as the Lions that he has fully matured as an influential playmaker, helping his country in 2014 to one of their best ever years.”
Other Irish players included were loose forwards Jamie Heaslip (55), Sean O’Brien (63) and Peter O’Mahony (34). So, too, were Rob Kearney (36), Tommy Bowe (48), Conor Murray (39) and Cian Healy (43).
Aside from Sexton, erstwhile captain Paul O’Connell is the sole Irish representative in the top 20, listed at 17th. The former Munster lock also came in for some serious flattery.
“An Irish legend in the second row, three times a British and Irish Lion, once as captain. Even at his advanced years he is still a huge influence upon Munster and Ireland.”
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The top three is accounted for by three All Black forwards; second row Brodie Reatallick, number eight Kieran Read and, unsurprisingly, the just retired Richie McCaw heads the list.