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World’s best player names ‘legend’ Alun Wyn Jones among top five players on planet

World Cup winner and 2019 global player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit has included Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones among his five standout rugby players on the planet.

England internationals Tom Curry and Sam Underhill are also on the celebrated back-rower’s list, along with New Zealand’s Ardie Savea and South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe.

Jones and Curry are set to face du Toit for the Lions in the Test series in South Africa this summer.

Of the Wales captain, the 6ft 7in, 18st Springbok — the most recent world player of the year in the absence of an award in 2020 — says on World Rugby’s The Wrap : “He’s been a legend in the game for so long.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him play for the Lions.”

Du Toit’s assessment will act as a corrective to recent criticism coming out of South Africa of rugby’s most capped player, with one writer in the republic even moved to describe Jones as “ an overhyped plodder ” who is not in the top 10 locks in the world right now.

Jones’ admirers will suggest the evidence of the Six Nations doesn’t support such a view.

The 35-year-old led his team with huge authority while piling up 75 tackles and making 120-plus metres with ball in hand and galvanising those around him as Wales achieved a title success few had predicted.

Anyway, du Toit is a fan and he also gives the thumbs-up to Kamikaze Kids Curry and Underhill, the pair who performed so outstandingly for England at the last World Cup.

Injury has since knocked back Underhill and he hasn’t been named in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad to head for South Africa, but, evidently, du Toit hasn’t forgotten the flanker’s stellar display against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final when he openside fairly tore into the All Blacks, with the Springbok still feeling he’s among the best of the best, along with Curry.

“They’re a really good combination playing for England and I definitely think they’re two players to watch out for in the future,” says du Toit, who faced the twosome in the World Cup final 19 months ago.

Is Alun Wyn Jones among the five standout players in the game right now? Have your say in the comments below

The Stormers back rower described Savea as “always world class” and a player who “never backs down from any contact situation”.

Making up his five is Kolbe, a wing who helped light up the Heineken Champions Cup this season as Toulouse conquered Europe for a record fifth time. “He’s one of the greats in the game,” says du Toit. “With that X-factor you can’t miss him”.

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