Profiling Adam Jones and 30 Others in International Rugby's 100-Cap Club

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

Profiling Adam Jones and 30 Others in International Rugby's 100-Cap Club

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Playing international rugby for any team is a massive feat, but showing enough consistency to rake in a century of caps for one of the most talented nations in the world is a difference achievement entirely.

    That was the milestone reached by Adam Jones last weekend, who made his 95th appearance for Wales to go along with the five British and Irish Lions caps he's earned down the years.

    The occasion wasn't the happiest one, with Warren Gatland's men falling 38-16 to the Springboks, but the defeat doesn't put a dampener on the accolade of the shaggy-haired prop or the legacy he's created.

    Jones is not alone in the 100-cap club, though, and became the 31st member of the rugby fraternity to make it into the elite fold, the rest of whom are each profiled ahead.

1. Adam Jones, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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    Wales Caps: 95

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 5

    It's fair to say that it hasn't always been easy to envision Adam Jones reaching a marker as mythical as the illustrious 100 caps—his career having taken more than a few twists and turns throughout the years.

    Now, though, the Ospreys figure can hold his head high for being very arguably the best tighthead prop Wales has ever produced and one of the most consistent front-row figures in the world of recent years.

    One of the 33-year-old's most endearing qualities, however, is his modesty. Speaking to Simon Thomas of Wales Online, Jones is fully accepting of the fact that his career has been buoyed by fine coaching talents:

    Gats came in and gave me the kick up the backside I needed. He made no illusions about where I needed to be. I’m sure there are more muscly props out there, but I worked hard on the stuff that he wanted me to and it paid dividends.

    I don’t think I would have got to 100 caps without Warren. I have been lucky with the two Kiwis who have coached Wales in my time. Steve Hansen gave me the chance 11 years ago and Gats came in and gave me the kick I needed.

    The Abercrave native isn't eyeing up retirement just yet, stating that he intends to reach 100 Welsh caps like teammate Gethin Jenkins, and there few as deserving of the number.

2. Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland and British and Irish Lions

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    Ireland Caps: 133

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 8

    Starting at the top and working our way down, Brian O'Driscoll bade an emotional goodbye to rugby at the end of the 2013-14 season.

    And, with 141 caps to his name, the Leinster man did so as the most capped figure of all time, turning out 133 times for Ireland and featuring for the British and Irish Lions on eight occasions.

    The remarkable thing about O'Driscoll is that at no point in his career has he ever looked in doubt. Neither for club nor country did the world's most recognisable No. 13 ever see his talent come into question or his place in a team questioned.

    Without "BO'D," there's a good chance Ireland would never have been able to win two Six Nations titles in the past six years. So potent is his longevity, that the centre even played a key role in one final European triumph in 2014.

    Bowing out as a Six Nations and RaboDirect Pro12 champion, O'Driscoll's presence on the Irish stage was sheer magic, from his 1999 debut until a decade-and-a-half later, with a whole lot of class shown in between.

3. George Gregan, Australia

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    Caps: 139

    Alongside Wales and New Zealand, Australia is the most represented nation in the 100-cap club, although former all-time record holder George Gregan is still in a relatively unique class.

    The ex-Wallabies scrum-half is one of the few Southern Hemisphere superstars whose career overlapped the amateur and professional eras, playing all of his Super Rugby days with the Brumbies.

    Gregan was a foundation player with the franchise and represented Australia at numerous age levels before making his senior debut against Italy in a 1994 win.

    He would go on to captain the side at the turn of the century, but that came after the Rugby World Cup triumph of 1999 in Cardiff, for which Gregan still sat as vice-captain.

    That achievement was almost replicated in 2003, but an extra-time defeat to England ensured that back-to-back successes would elude Gregan and his teammates.

    In 2007, the half-back moved to the Northern Hemisphere with Toulon, simultaneously calling time on his international days as the world's most experienced international at the time.

    Gregan does still hold the all-time record for most capped half-back partnership alongside Stephen Larkham, with whom he was capped 79 times.

4. Ronan O'Gara, Ireland and British and Irish Lions

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    Ireland Caps: 128

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 2

    Johnny Sexton is now well on his way to creating an Ireland legacy of his own, but for a second there, it was difficult to see what life held for the nation's No. 10 jersey without Ronan O'Gara.

    Second only to O'Driscoll in Irish caps and the third most-experienced international of all time, it's remarkable that a fly-half staved off injury enough to amass a cap tally as high as 130.

    In that time, the playmaker scored more than 1,000 points and played a key role in his country's first-ever Six Nations title in 2009—a Grand Slam, no less.

    With others blocking his way, it's a shame that O'Gara earned just two caps for the British and Irish Lions despite travelling as a tourist in 2001, 2005 and 2009, where he was predominantly used in warm-up fixtures.

    One of the most accurate and consistent goal kickers of all time, O'Gara's slight frame embodied the fly-half principles of using brains over brawn, and his feet guided both Ireland and Munster to considerable riches over the course of a 16-year career.

5. Richie McCaw, New Zealand

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    Caps: 126

    No player has more wins or a higher win percentage at the international level than Richie McCaw, the evergreen New Zealander who is still going strong at the age of 33.

    The Crusaders icon has played for the All Blacks 126 times and been victorious on 112 of those occasions, losing 13 and drawing one, which equates to a win percentage of 89.28.

    To put that into context, George Gregan's international win percentage, boasting the fourth-highest win tally of all time, is just 67.62.

    A nine-time Tri Nations and Rugby Championship winner, captain of the 2011 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks side and a record three-time winner of the IRB Player of the Year award, McCaw stands as one of the most decorated players ever.

    Earlier this year, the openside icon hinted that retirement could beckon after the 2014 Rugby World Cup, per the Telegraph:

    You never know but at the moment just to play next year is not a given any more. I haven't even considered beyond [2015] but I would say it ... would be reasonably unlikely. 

    If you have had enough of being bashed up in training and all those things, going over there just to earn some money doesn't really appeal. I would say that is pretty unlikely, too, but, again, you never say never.

    Whether you love or hate the back rower's style of play, which often verges on the edge of the game's laws, McCaw will be a missed figure for all in the rugby community when the time to hang up his boots does finally come.

    But, for now at least, we can continue to enjoy the ongoing influence of a serious candidate for the title of greatest flanker ever to have pulled on a jersey.

6. Jason Leonard, England and British and Irish Lions

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    England Caps: 114

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 5

    To this day, Jason Leonard remains the only Englishman to have racked up 100 caps, and with Jonny Wilkinson now in retirement, there isn't a countryman in sight who looks likely to join him anytime soon.

    When he won his first international cap in 1990, he was the youngest prop ever to represent England, taking on Argentina at the age of just 21.

    Leonard cemented his place in the squad for the more than a decade, and although he had fallen down the pecking order at the time of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph, his introduction in the final gave the team solidity in the scrum and played a major factor in keeping Australia out on the way to glory.

    Prior to this match, Leonard had already been awarded an MBE for his services to the sport, but his influence was typified all the more when that honour was upgraded to an OBE in its wake.

    In 2007, the ex-Harlequins staple was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame, having ended his career three years earlier.

7. Fabien Pelous, France

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    Caps: 118

    Were it not for several long-term injuries and suspensions, Fabien Pelous may find himself even higher in the all-time cap leader standings, but it was a by-product of the lock's play that such outcomes were almost inevitable.

    Toulouse will profess that it was with them that the second row played the best rugby of his career, but Pelous always had a special air of commitment about him when representing France—captaining the team to a 2004 Grand Slam just two years after they had last recorded such a feat.

    Of his 118 caps, Pelous was captain in 42 matches and spent a time as the player to have made the most international appearances at lock, although a certain South African—whom we'll discuss soon—would later overtake him.

8. Nathan Sharpe, Australia

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    Caps: 116

    Making his Australia debut in 2002, Nathan Sharpe's presence in the Wallabies' pack was substantial for a time, and it took the former Western Force captain just four years to pass the 50-Test mark.

    With just a decade of international involvement, Sharpe boasts one of the shorter national-team career spans in this list, but it's what he did with his time in the squad that makes him such an example to follow.

    During that time, he twice won the John Eales Medal as Australian Player of the Year.

    Although his days as a Wallaby didn't happen to coincide with any grand era of representative success, Sharpe is symbolic of the sentiment that trophies don't necessarily make great individuals or even teams, as his leadership played a large hand in whatever positivity did come Australia's way during that period.

9. Keven Mealamu, New Zealand

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    Caps: 112

    Behind long-term teammate McCaw, Keven Mealamu is the player with the second-highest number of international wins to his name—triumphing in 96 of his 112 appearances for New Zealand.

    The Blues veteran did a fine job of keeping compatriot Andrew Hore on the bench for a large majority of their respective All Blacks careers—each debuting in 2002—and while Hore has called time on his playing days, Mealamu remains a part of Steve Hansen's active player pool.

    It's no surprise, then, that he played a big role in the triumphant Rugby World Cup side of 2011, having also been there for much of the Tri Nations and Rugby Championship successes that McCaw has, albeit playing not as glamorous a role.

    At 35 years of age, it's uncertain as to how long Mealamu can continue to function at the very peak of rugby, especially with new, younger faces beginning to make their way into the New Zealand side, but the hooker's standards have never slipped during his 12-year career.

10. Gethin Jenkins, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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    Wales Caps: 106

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 5

    Regarded as a rare talent in his ability to play at both loosehead prop and in the less natural tighthead position, no Welshman has earned more international caps than Gethin Jenkins.

    Save for one season with Toulon in 2012-13, the forward has played all of his club rugby in Wales, predominantly with Cardiff Blues.

    Debuting for Wales in 2002, the versatile front-row asset is one of only six Welshmen to have won three Six Nations Grand Slams (2005, 2008 and 2012), during each of which he stood as a pivotal character.

    Despite the prop stereotype, Jenkins has been known as an incredibly mobile and athletic talent, and only now are certain cracks beginning to show in his play, with more and more props advancing that side of their game.

11. Victor Matfield, South Africa

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    Caps: 111

    Having briefly retired from the sport altogether in 2011, rugby is now a better place thanks to the return of Victor Matfield, the man who now holds the record for making the most international appearances at lock.

    Not only is that an incredible feat for a man who took three years out from the game, but ESPN Scrum points out that the 37-year-old will become the most capped Springbok ever this weekend when he lines up against Wales.

    One of the finest line-out technicians of all time, it was this aspect of the second row's game that paved the way to him earning Man of the Match honours during South Africa's victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final.

    Having debuted in 2001, Matfield's first stint in the South African squad lasted a decade, but now that he's almost halfway through a two-year deal with the Bulls, we might expect to squeeze another year out of the tremendous figure—both in stature and impact.

12. Philippe Sella, France

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    Caps: 111

    Both the International Rugby Hall of Fame and the IRB Hall of Fame have recognised the talents of Philippe Sella, inducting the Frenchman into their ranks in 1999 and 2008, respectively.

    Sella played most of his club days in his native France with Agen, but the turn of the professional era saw him move to Saracens for several seasons, which coincided with the end of his days with Les Bleus.

    The centre-cum-winger's 111-cap tally is made all the more impressive when one considers that Sella started in 110 of those matches, winning 70 and drawing an aggravating five games—the most of any player in the 100-cap club.

13. John Smit, South Africa

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    Caps: 111

    One of five international stars currently sitting on 111 caps (although countryman Matfield will soon move on to 112), John Smit is the second of our only two hookers to have passed the century mark.

    And it was Smit, the 50th Springbok captain of the side's history, who captained South Africa in their 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign, leading the team to the promised land with an iron-fist approach to the game.

    Sometimes brutal in his ways, Smit was a throwback to the old-fashioned Springbok's approach to play—if traditions were ever lost—holding nothing back in terms of physicality but always adopting an astute blend of quality in his game.

    Smit also served as South Africa captain for their series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

14. George Smith, Australia

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    Caps: 111

    Clubs in France and Japan each know the talents of George Smith, who took his considerable talents abroad once past his prime playing years, but it's for his time in Australia that the flanker garnered major plaudits.

    A decade-long career with the Brumbies resulted in prominence with the Wallabies, for whom Smith debuted in 2000. He retired from international rugby in 2009 before making a very brief comeback in 2013.

    On his return to the Wallabies, Smith played a role in the third Test of the 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions to become the record holder for days between first and last appearances against the Lions, surpassing Colin Meads' previous tally of 4,382 days.

    Smith's quality as a specialist at the breakdown and in ball turnover long benefited the Wallabies, and his previously dreadlocked form was often held as one of Australia's most consistent assets throughout the 2000s.

15. Stephen Jones, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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    Wales Caps: 104

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 6

    Stephen Jones came agonisingly close to breaking the 1,000-point barrier during his international career, with his tally of 970 second only to Neil Jenkins within the Welsh ranks and sixth-highest number overall.

    However, one area in which the former Scarlets man does trump Jenkins is in that of caps earned, making 104 appearances for Wales, as well as another six matches for the British and Irish Lions.

    Although never the most glamorous player in his position, Jones always carried the virtues of what was best for the team, and Wales will forever be indebted to the No. 10 for his efforts during the 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam in particular.

    Making his Wales debut in 1998, it would be another seven years until Jones received the Lions' call, featuring in six Test matches across the 2005 and 2009 campaigns.

16. Chris Paterson, Scotland

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    Caps: 109

    Chris Paterson's 109 caps and 809 points are both records for a Scotsman and represent the most appearances and points scored than any other from Scotland.

    The Edinburgh mainstay has always been revered as one of the most accurate kickers ever to play, and as ESPN Scrum details, he at one time kicked 36 consecutive goals over a 10-month period between August 2007 and June 2008.

    It's difficult to quantify exactly how many games Scotland won thanks to the presence and points injection of Paterson, but during a period where gloom was often the more prevalent emotion, he stood as a beacon of light.

17. Tony Woodcock, New Zealand

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    Caps: 109

    Following countrymen McCaw and Mealamu, Tony Woodcock is one of just four players to amass 90 international victories or more in their career (94), and it would seem highly probable that the 100 barrier won't go unattained for much longer.

    Woodcock also made his All Blacks debut in 2002, which was something of a golden year for the nation's current crop of veterans.

    At the age of 33, the 2015 Rugby World Cup will still very much be in sight for a player who continues to prove his value at the elite standard.

    And this isn't one of those cases where the body might be deteriorating while the mind remains potent. No, Woodcock is still as much of a weapon as one might have considered him to be during his pomp.

    It was only a few years ago that he scored the only try of New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup final triumph over France, becoming the first All Blacks prop to touch down in a Rugby World Cup final in the process.

18. John Hayes, Ireland and British and Irish Lions

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    Ireland Caps: 105

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 2

    John Hayes was a mammoth of a man, standing at 6'4" and weighing more than 20 stone at his heaviest, but like so many other big men of the sport, he always struck as something of a gentle giant off the pitch.

    But that's where the geniality stopped for the Munster man, who made his Ireland bow in 2000, two years after being thrust into the senior ranks at Thomond Park.

    Winning the Heineken Cup twice in his career with the Limerick giants, once in 2006 and again in 2008, Hayes was the first man to play 100 matches in the European contest.

    Before the legacy of O'Driscoll became quite what it is today, Hayes was the first Irishman to claim 100 caps for his country, and his career longevity was astounding. He was regarded as the nation's first choice at tighthead from his introduction until his retirement more than a decade later in 2011.

19. Marco Bortolami, Italy

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    Caps: 106

    Four Italians have managed to break into the 100-cap club, and they all sit within three international appearances of one another.

    However, for now at least, Marco Bortolami just edges any of his compatriots with a tally of 106 caps, although there's a Stade Francais No. 8 snapping at that record's heels.

    The lock has played most of his club rugby in his native Italy, lining up for Aironi and then Zebre in the last four seasons, but Bortolami holds valuable experience playing in France and England, too, with Narbonne and Gloucester.

    Making his full Azzurri debut in 2001, it wasn't long before the second row became Italy's youngest-ever captain at the age of 22, having led the nation's under-21 side before his upgrade.

    Bortolami may have lost the captaincy, but his has been a constant presence within the national team's ranks over the past decade and more.

20. Martin Castrogiovanni, Italy

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    Caps: 105

    If Jones had any competition for the title of prop most resembling a caveman, Martin Castrogiovanni is it, but the Leicester Tigers legend plays with a great deal more finesse than that suggests.

    It's a testament to the faith that Italy were willing to place in the then 20-year-old that "Castro" made his national team debut during the 2002 summer tour of New Zealand.

    Since then, his place on the teamsheet has rarely, if ever, looked as though it were in doubt, since establishing his reputation as one of the most talented tightheads in the northern Hemisphere.

    Toulon now benefit from the prop's input, and it's at the Stade Mayol that the Italian staple added to his trophy cabinet with the 2013-14 Heineken Cup to go along with the Premiership crowns he acquired during his time at Welford Road.

    In 2006-07, Castrogiovanni also became the first prop or Italian ever to win Premiership Player of the Year.

21. Sergio Parisse, Italy

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    Caps: 105

    Still just 30 years of age, Sergio Parisse has a lot left in his tank, and logic would suggest that Botolami's Italian cap record won't be his for much longer.

    Stade Francais' Mr. Fantastic has time and again proven his credentials, with his talent so great that he tends to lift the standards of those around him, bringing them closer to his own plane of competition.

    With him as captain, the Azzurri have a leading star and will always be a better outfit when he is within their ranks, 12 years after the Argentina-born bruiser made his debut as an 18-year-old.

    With superb handling, terrific carrying and deceptive agility by his side, Parisse has shone during times when the Azzurri have not, and it's of little surprise that, in 2008, he became the first Italian ever to be nominated for IRB Player of the Year.

22. Martyn Williams, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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    Wales Caps: 100

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 4

    Martyn Wiliams is a unique veteran in our countdown in that he's the only inclusion whose international career spanned longer than 15 years. He made his debut for Wales on August 24, 1996, and eventually retired on June 2, 2012, at the age of 36.

    Like many of those in the 100-cap club, Williams chose to call it a day right after reaching the elusive century, with his effectiveness on the pitch clearly no longer at its best and a flood of back-row talent weaving it way up the ranks.

    However, the ex-Cardiff Blues staple will go down as one of the key in an era of great prosperity for Wales, winning Six Nations Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008, not to mention being named Player of the Tournament in the former.

    Never blessed with the most gifted set of physical attributes, Williams embodied the hard-working and dogged flanker for Wales, and he will have undoubtedly influenced the developments of players such as Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric.

23. Andrea Lo Cicero, Italy

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    Caps: 103

    Andrea Lo Cicero went through a frustrating start to life as an Italian international. Having been selected for the 1999 Rugby World Cup squad, he failed to make an appearance in the competition.

    It wasn't until a year later that the loosehead prop made his debut, and despite being lumped with the unenviable task of filling the void left by captain Massimo Cuttitta, Lo Cicero would eventually grow to thrive in the responsibilities.

    Lo Cicero holds a distinct bragging right over the likes of Bortolami, Castrogiovanni and Parisse in that, while their international winning ratios all sit below the 30 percent, he has been victorious in 32 of his 103 Italy matches, making for a win percentage of 31.55.

    It says something about the ex-Racing Metro front row's influence on national-team matters that, even among such decorated figures, his is an impact that can arguably be measured above such talented teammates.

24. Gareth Thomas, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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    Wales Caps: 100

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 3

    Only Shane Williams has scored more tries for Wales than Gareth Thomas, whom many regard as the finest utility back ever to have pulled on the red of his country.

    Although he would later see his record surpassed by the aforementioned Jenkins, Thomas became the most-capped Welsh player ever in 2007 when he captained the team in their shock 2007 Rugby World Cup defeat against Fiji.

    That was 12 years after "Alfie" made his debut for the Welsh, going on to play a lead part in his team's rise through the international ranks, as well as scoring a record-equalling four tries against Italy in 1999—a feat that only six other players have managed for their nation.

25. Stephen Larkham, Australia

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    Caps: 102

    Now imparting his considerable wisdom a attacking coach for the Brumbies, Stephen Larkham is a legendary figure both in Super Rugby and with the Wallabies.

    The ex-fly-half is also one of the few Southern Hemisphere stars on this list to have retired having played all of his professional career in the Southern Hemisphere, debuting for the Canberra outfit in 1995.

    He would see out all his playing days with the Brumbies, gaining a reputation both on the club and international scene as a malleable character, starting his Wallabies tenure at fullback before shifting to his longer-term headquarters at No. 10.

    And it was here that Larkham gained a reputation as a devastating asset when given time on the ball, using all his knowledge at centre and fullback to promote a running style of play, as well as combining great vision out of hand to excel as an Australian international.

    The playmaker's extra-time 48-metre drop goal in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa was a decisive moment in the Wallabies' run to becoming world champions that year.

26. Percy Montgomery, South Africa

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    Caps: 102

    Morne Steyn has a long way to go before he can hope to break the all-time South African points record set by Percy Montgomery during his 11-year career with the Springboks.

    In 102 appearances for South Africa, "Percy" accrued 893 points and cemented his spot as a tremendous talent with the boot, debuting at inside centre in 1997 against the British and Irish Lions before eventually finding his home at fullback.

    In his penultimate year of international rugby, Montgomery helped the Springboks claim their 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph. He represented the Stormers and the Sharks in his Super Rugby days, as well as enjoying stints with Coventry, Newport Gwent Dragons and Perpignan.

    For a time, Montgomery was brought into the South African set-up as a kicking coach, donating some of his vast knowledge at the top level to those hopefuls coming through the national team.

27. David Campese, Australia

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    Caps: 101

    Daisuke Ohata of Japan has since overtaken David Campese in the world's try-scoring charts, but upon his 1996 retirement from Wallabies duty, the New South Wales icon's tally of 64 tries was the highest of any player in rugby history.

    That number remains the highest amount recorded by an Australian, with Chris Latham his nearest competitor for the honour on 40, signifying just how important his attacking exploits were for his nation.

    Campese was named 1991 Rugby World Cup Player of the Tournament en route to seeing his nation crowned that year's champions, scoring six tries in the competition and nine that calendar year overall.

    Although sometimes arrogant in his approach, "Campo" possessed a personality that accompanied his direct and fierce approach to the wing suitably, lighting up the international scene from 1982 until 1996, starting in 100 of his 101 international outings.

28. Paul O'Connell, Ireland and British and Irish Lions

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    Ireland Caps: 94

    British and Irish Lions Caps: 7

    Many players would be eyeing up the exit door at the age of 34, but after penning a two-year contract extension with the IRFU at the start of 2014, per the Daily Mail's Mikey Stafford, it's clear that Paul O'Connell still has so much more to give.

    The former University of Limerick student made his Munster debut in 2001, and it only took Ireland one season to see what a talent they had on their hands, handing the lock his first international cap at the 2002 Six Nations, where he scored in his debut versus Wales.

    With O'Driscoll and O'Connell within their ranks, the Irish have been fortunate to possess two immaculate leading figures over the past decade or so, with the national captaincy being exchanged almost exclusively between the two, depending largely on fitness.

    O'Connell has also led numerous British and Irish Lions teams, touring in 2005, 2009 and 2013, being named as squad captain for the second of those.

    Despite suffering a fractured arm during the first Test of the 2013 tour to Australia, Warren Gatland chose to keep O'Connell among the side in a coaching capacity, an inspiration that undoubtedly lent itself well to their eventual 2-1 series triumph.

29. Alessandro Troncon, Italy

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    Caps: 101

    It's not an extremely regular occurrence for a scrum-half to play the role of leader within any squad, never mind doing so for a career spanning 101 caps.

    But such was the presence of Alessandro Troncon, who stepped outside the normal realms of a No. 9 to give Italy a source of great reliability during a time when their success, or lack thereof, was almost viewed as the laughing stock of Europe's hierarchy.

    Troncon was the first Italian player ever to reach 100 appearances for his country, debuting against Spain in 1994 before eventually retiring after the 2007 Rugby World Cup after enjoying a 13-year career with the Azzurri.

30. Dan Carter, New Zealand

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    Caps: 100

    It's often the case that those players who seem least deserving of such bad fortune are the ones who seem to inevitably attract it, Dan Carter's career, which has been marred by several key injuries, is one such example.

    It was one of these absences that prevented the fly-half legend from playing his part in the latter stages of New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup triumph and much of the winning record established during 2013.

    Carter has inspired a generation of No. 10s, throwing his hat into the mix as arguably the greatest ever to have played in the position, winning the IRB Player of the Year award on two occasions.

    With 1,440 points to his name, Carter has amassed more points in Test rugby than any other player in the sport, blending a supremely talented mix of the kicking, passing and running game, although it's certainly the former for which he'll be most remembered.

    Debuting for the All Blacks in 2003, Carter's success has coincided largely with that of McCaw's. Having lost in just 11 of his 100 appearances for New Zealand, his winning percentage of 88.50 is almost as good as that of his Crusaders and international teammate.

31. Mils Muliaina, New Zealand

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    Caps: 100

    Junior Malili Muliaina, largely referred to as "Mils" Muliaina, sometimes goes overlooked when considering the figures who have been most influential on New Zealand's rise to the very peak of rugby over the past decade.

    "Blistering pace" would probably sit as the cliche commentators have used the most to describe the fullback's style of play since making his international debut in 2003, with Muliaina adding to the roster of superstar-quality back-three players that his country has been so blessed with down the years.

    Connacht have signed up a potential bargain with the acquisition of Muliaina, per BBC Sport, and although his days with the All Blacks are over, it's a bonus for rugby that a figure possessing so much flair and talent with ball in hand is still in our midst as a player.

    Muliaina injured his shoulder in the run-up to New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup victory, retiring a day before he collected his winners medal on October 23 of that year to end his All Blacks spell in most deserving fashion.

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