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1. Tony Woodcock
The world’s best loosehead prop simply continues to do what he does best without fuss or fanfare. Solid as a rock in the scrum and handy in the loose, you don’t amass 104 caps for a side like New Zealand unless you’re doing just about everything right and doing it every time you pull on the jersey.
2. Bismarck du Plessis
The world ranking of hookers sees a host of quality players jostling for the top placings, but out ahead of them all is this man. Despite his indiscretion at Eden Park—and whether he deserved a yellow for his hit on Dan Carter is a matter of some debate—Bismarck is simply the best hooker on the field any time he is chosen.
He was benched for the Springboks home match against Australia, and Adriaan Strauss put in a 50-minute display that impressed many, but Bismarck wins this spot hands down. With two of the world’s best hookers at their disposal, and both under 30, South Africa are spoiled for choice in this position.
3. Jannie du Plessis
Du Plessis passed the 50-cap mark during this year’s Championship and formed part of a front row that dominated in the majority of matches. In their closest scrummaging contest against the All Blacks, du Plessis’ power and technique allowed the Boks to get the upper hand.