Wednesday 15 August 2018

Luke Fitzgerald picks his top three players in the world - and an Irishman makes the cut

1 July 2017; Beauden Barrett of New Zealand during the Second Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
1 July 2017; Beauden Barrett of New Zealand during the Second Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

After Rugby World released their list of the top 100 players in the world, Luke Fitzgerald came up with his own ranking - with an Irish star coming in at number two.

The rugby magazine crowned England and Saracens out-half/centre Owen Farrell as the world's best player, with All Blacks ten Beauden Barrett second and dextrous Fijian second row Leone Nakarawa in third.

On this week's episode of The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast, Fitzgerald gave his own top three, with the Kiwi playmaker - and current back-to-back World Player of the Year - coming out on top.

Listen and subscribe to The Left Wing on iTunes and Soundcloud

"Beauden Barrett is my number one because he is so fit," Fitzgerald said.

"At the end of every long passage of play that guy either gets a try, gives a pass for a try or stops a try with a try-saving tackle. He can do everything. He is special. He is so strong, so fit and he has got it all."

Fitzgerald then opted for Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong as his number two, both because of his all-round ability and due to the importance of his position.

"I would go with Tadhg Furlong [for number two]. He is unbelievable. Think of other tightheads, that is what I am going to base it on. The two most important positions, out-half and tighthead prop. I think Tadhg Furlong is so far above any other tighthead. He can do it all. He is a brilliant tackler. Most tightheads are a liability around the pitch, he is an asset with his tackling. His passing, he is like back row out there. He is superb."

Rounding out Fitzgerald's podium is New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick, who won the World Player of the Year award in 2014.

"I've got Retallick there, he is unbelievable," Fitzgerald said.

"Every single ruck he hits, he is like Brad Thorn. He just impacts the game everywhere. His handling, his carrying ability, he is great in the air at the lineout."

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Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

Listen and subscribe to The Left Wing on iTunes and Soundcloud

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