Power Rankings: Our top five Northern Hemisphere full-backs

Marcus Smith celebrates at the final whistle with Freddie Steward 20/11/2021
One of the most tactically complex positions on the pitch, a full-back plays a crucial role in every team’s attack and defence.

One of the most tactically complex positions on the pitch, a full-back plays a crucial role in every team’s attack and defence.

The last line between the opposition and the try line, a No.15 needs to catch and kick with ease, tackle well and cover ground like a sprinter.

That’s without mentioning an astute rugby brain which full-backs use to sense danger before it has become apparent to the rest of those in the stadium.

So here are the five best full-backs in the Northern Hemisphere right now.

1. Freddie Steward

Four months after being named England men’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year at the RPA awards, Steward was rewarded with a new Leicester Tigers contract.

This was announced just days after the 21-year-old bagged a hat-trick on his return to the Gallagher Premiership champions’ starting line-up against Northampton Saints.

Steward is set for a barnstorming autumn after nailing down his starting berth for England in the Guinness Six Nations and on tour to Australia in the summer.

The young full-back was named the world’s best in his position by Sprinbok Damian Willemse and Cadan Murley spoke about him in glowing terms days before his inclusion in Eddie Jones’ squad.

2. Ange Capuozzo

Ange Capuozzo’s mazy run, dodging tackles left and right to set Edoardo Padovani away against Wales in the Guinness Six Nations will live long in the memory of every rugby fan.

A move to 21-time French champions Toulouse beckoned in the summer to join fellow full-back sensations Melvyn Jaminet and Thomas Ramos.

With such stiff competition for the No.15 jersey at the Top 14 leaders, Capuozzo has only made one start in his preferred role this season, but already has two tries in 272 minutes.

The diminutive 23-year-old made his international debut in March and looks certain to occupy the Italian full-back position for many years to come.

3. Thomas Ramos

An extremely concerning sight greeted French fans who tuned into Toulouse’s comprehensive 45-7 victory over Brive on Saturday.

Jaminet hobbled off with an ankle ligament injury after just 15 minutes and subsequent examinations confirmed the 23-year-old will miss the Autumn Nations Series.

The obvious solution would be Ramos, who played back-up to Jaminet in the Guinness Six Nations.

Like Capuozzo, Ramos has featured elsewhere for Toulouse this campaign, primarily at fly-half where he has registered 83 points in seven appearances for the French giants and has arguably been the form fly-half in the league.

4. Michael Lowry

Another who could benefit from an untimely injury to their countryman, Michael Lowry may get his chance to shine for Ireland this autumn.

Hugo Keenan is still recovering from abdominal and knee injuries that have kept him out of the opening weeks of the United Rugby Championship.

And if the Leinster back fails to win the race against time before Ireland face South Africa at the beginning of November, Lowry should be next in line to show what he’s capable of.

The 24-year-old crossed the whitewash twice against Italy in his only international appearance this calendar year and has been in fine fettle for Ulster for some time.

5. Stuart Hogg

One man who should be imminently fit for the club and country is talisman Stuart Hogg after undergoing surgery in the close season.

Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher confirmed Hogg was replaced for ‘a bit of cramp’ in their stunning victory over Bristol Bears.

While Hogg’s form hasn’t been up to his extremely high standards, his class is clear for all to see.

If the three-time British & Irish Lion can put his injury worries behind him, not many can match his electric performances.

Honourable mentions must go to the injured trio of Melvyn Jaminet, Hugo Keenan and Liam Williams. All three would be guaranteed starters for their domestic and national sides and high up on this list.