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As previously mentioned, I am Irish, however I do not consider Jamie Heaslip as deserving of any consideration here due to his shameful actions in kneeing McCaw in the head last year.
He could have caused serious, permanent damage. It was unprovoked, unwarranted, has no place in professional sports and is utterly unjustifiable.
No matter how well Heaslip plays in the future I maintain it is a disgrace to the IRFU and the Irish people that such a vile individual is allowed sully the green jersey.
Now that the rant is out of the way...
Harinordoquy is a top class player and fully deserving of this spot as the best eighthman in the world.
The Basque-Frenchman may not quite have the pace of Spies or the silky smooth skills of Parisse, but he is a rare athlete and a great talent.
This position would probably belong to Spies if he improved defensively, but at the moment he is an inferior all-around player to Harinordoquy.
Honourable Mentions: Pierre Spies, Sergio Parisse, Kieran Read, Fernandez-Lobbe