Brodie Retallick Rugby: All Blacks snubbed in RugbyPass’ top 30 players of 2019

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By Alex Shaw for RugbyPass.com

What a year it has been.

Not only have we been treated to exciting domestic and continental competitions over the past 12 months, we also had a riveting Rugby World Cup to enjoy, with Japan once again capturing our hearts and reminding us all that successful rugby teams can come in all sorts of guises.

Having lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, South Africa’s players understandably feature heavily in these rankings, as do beaten finalists England. A down year for New Zealand does show up, perhaps not so much in quantity of player involved, but certainly in their position among the top 30.

Plenty of other nations feature strongly and you can see who did and who didn’t make the cut below.

30. Manu Tuilagi, England and Leicester Tigers

There have been flashes this past year of Tuilagi being back to his best. Leicester’s form hasn’t helped him, nor, arguably, has his movement between 12 and 13 for England, but despite that, he has begun to give defenders and defence coaches nightmares once again. A fully fit and in-form Tuilagi could push for involvement in the top 10 of these rankings next year.

29. Pablo Matera, Argentina and Stade Français

It’s been a year to forget for Argentina and one to celebrate for the Jaguares. Matera gave his best efforts for the former and put in plenty of valiant displays in losing causes, whilst he shone as he helped lead the latter to their debut Super Rugby final. He now returns to Europe after a forgettable spell at Leicester and will attempt to resurrect Stade as a European powerhouse.

28. Michael Hooper, Australia and Waratahs

A lone Australian to follow a lone Argentinean, it’s been a tough year for the Wallabies, who have been plagued by inconsistencies on the pitch and controversies off it. Despite that, Hooper has stayed a consistent and positive force for Australian rugby, constantly emptying everything he has for club and country. Whatever Australia’s failings are, they are not down to the effort shown by Hooper week in, week out.

27. Kazuki Himeno, Japan and Toyota Verblitz

One of just three Tier 2 players in the Top 30, Himeno would walk into most Tier 1 international XVs. The 25-year-old is the heartbeat of the Japanese national side, despite playing alongside the more-talked about pairing of Michael Leitch and Lappies Labuschagne and, given his age, he will be the player to carry the torch forward as the Brave Blossoms look to build on the successes of 2015 and 2019.

26. Jordan Larmour, Ireland and Leinster

Scintillating. That’s the only word you can use to describe Larmour. Even in an international group that consists of Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls, not to mention a provincial group that also boasts James Lowe, the biggest compliment you can pay Larmour is that he is potentially the most gifted of the lot. New Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is surely working out how to make Larmour the centrepiece of his back line.

25. Semi Radradra, Fiji and Bordeaux

The Fijian back has lit up rugby over the past 12 months and has Bristol Bears fans salivating at the potential impact he will have alongside Charles Piutau next year. One of, if not the most destructive attacking back line player in the world right now, if Radradra can add a little more defensive reliability to his game, he could swiftly become the most influential non-forward and non-half-back player in international and club rugby.

24. Alun Wyn Jones, Wales and Ospreys

Jones has battled valiantly against the ravages of time and remains one of the most influential second rows in the game, although it’s hard to ignore the cases put forward by some of the younger locks ahead of him. The 34-year-old’s stewardship of the Wales team has been exemplary, and he has led a team that consistently punches well above its weight wonderfully. This might be his last year in these rankings, so take a moment to celebrate his contribution to r

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