Nine Irish players in English top 100 rugby players list, Paul O'Connell fails to make top 10
Sporting lists never fail to ignite discussion and The Telegraph's Top 100 rugby players certainly does that and makes for interesting viewing from an Irish perspective.
The cream of international players will showcase their talents on the global stage when the tournament gets underway this Friday night when hosts England entertain Fiji at Twickenham.
The Telegraph's list has many of the usual suspects near the business end of the rankings, but only nine of Joe Schmidt's back-to-back Six Nations championship winning sides make the list.
Leinster's returning out-half Jonathan Sexton is the highest place Irish player and the only to make the top 10, in eighth position. Just after Dan Carter in seventh, he is the next highest ranked number 10.
Irish captain Paul O'Connell will have to make do in 17th position sandwiched between Australian play-maker Matt Giteau and All Black backrower Jerome Kaino.
Peter O'Mahony (34), Rob Kearney (36) and Conor Murray (39) find themselves in close proximity, while Cian Healy, still in a race to prove his World Cup fitness is in 43rd position.
Three other Irish players make the cut. Winger Tommy Bowe (48), former captain Jamie Heaslip (55) and finally powerhouse backrower Sean O'Brien in 63rd position. The 'Tullow Tank' is placed ahead of Fiji's Niko Matawalu and one place behind Argentina's Juan Martin Hernandez.
Not surprisingly, decorated All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is selected as the best player in the world. The top five is dominated by his New Zealand colleagues, with only South Africa's Duane Vermuelen braking up the monopoly.
International Rugby Newsletter
1. Richie McCaw
2. Kieran Read
3. Brodie Retallick
4. Julian Savea
5. Duane Vermeulen
6. Israel Folau
7. Dan Carter
8. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conrad Smith
10. Willie le Roux