Rugby

New Zealand Publication Includes Two Irish In 'Top 10 Players On The Planet For 2016'

New Zealand Publication Includes Two Irish In 'Top 10 Players On The Planet For 2016'

Despite a flat Six Nations, 2016 turned in an unforgettable year for Irish rugby.

For the first time in one season, Ireland had wins against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The win against the All Blacks in Chicago was the cream in the coffee. It was a win which incited much analysis in New Zealand.

The game which followed two weeks later resulted in a battle of words between the Irish and New Zealand media - the majority of it being due to tackles which, from and Irish point of view, crossed the line.

Despite that animosity between the Irish and New Zealand media, there has been some recognition for some of Joe Schmidt's players from Stuff.co.nz.

Their 'top 10 rugby players on the planet for 2016' - a real snub for anyone on the International Space Station - includes two Irish.

Along with Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray is the player Ireland can least afford to be without in a big game. He's likely to be the Lions scrum-half come this summer.

Stuff.co.nz have the Munster man at number nine on their list and say of him:

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Tactically sound, a big boot, great eye for a gap and as tough as they come.

Following on from his nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year, Jamie Heaslip ranks at number four.

Stuff.co.nz say the 33-year-old encapsulates many of Irish rugby's positive aspects.

Personifies so much of what is good about Irish rugby at the moment in that he's big and strong and doesn't take a backward step, and has a fair package of skill to go with it.

Rory Best and Johnny Sexton are included among the 'honourable mentions'.

Here's the full top 10.

10. Billy Vunipola (England)
9. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
8. Conor Murray (Ireland)
7. Owen Farrell (England)
6. Ben Smith (New Zealand)
5. Israel Folau (Australia)
4. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
3. Dane Coles (New Zealand)
2. Maro Itoje (England)
1. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

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PJ Browne
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