Power Rankings – Our top five Northern Hemisphere props

With another exciting season about to get underway, and the 2023 Guinness Six Nations on the horizon, people are beginning to wonder which players will catch the eye over the next 12 months.

With another exciting season about to get underway, and the 2023 Guinness Six Nations on the horizon, people are beginning to wonder which players will catch the eye over the next 12 months.

The role of prop forward has changed significantly over the last decade, with some of the world’s most exciting and skilful players now calling the front row their home.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at our top five Northern Hemisphere props heading into the new season.

1. Tadhg Furlong

Widely regarded as one of the world’s best front row forwards for half a decade now, no list of the top Northern Hemisphere props would be complete without Ireland tighthead Tadhg Furlong.

The man mountain is a dominant ball carrier and a top quality scrummager. But it is his distribution that sets him apart, stepping in at first receiver with increasing regularity and opening up Ireland’s attack.

With Ireland in unbelievable form, and coming off the back of their first series win in New Zealand, there is no telling what Furlong could achieve over the next 12 months.

2. Ellis Genge

Ellis Genge cemented his place as England’s first choice loosehead prop last season after years of impressing on both the domestic and international stages.

Powerful and aggressive with the ball, but equally capable at the set-piece, the 27-year-old will be looking to stake his claim as the world’s best over the next 12 months.

He captained Leicester Tigers to their first Gallagher Premiership Rugby title since the 2012/13 season, and now looks set to play a crucial role with Bristol Bears.

And while playing under Eddie Jones, the Bristol-born forward has been a shining light during a tough 12 months for England.

After having to bide his time behind Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola, Genge has now emerged as a real leader in the team and one of the world’s best in his position.

3. Uini Atonio

A couple of French props had a strong case for this list, with Cyril Baille arguably the best front-rower in the entire 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

The Toulouse loosehead has just undergone surgery on his adductors however, and will be out for a couple of months.

In his absence, it is even harder to ignore the huge figure of Uini Atonio, the cornerstone of France’s powerful pack and crucial to the way Les Bleus want to play.

Standing at nearly two metres tall and weighing in at around 150kg, it goes without saying that Atonio is a powerful scrummager, but his work around the field is remarkable for such a large prop.

Fans saw his impact for themselves during the 2022 Guiness Six Nations when Atonio helped France to their 18th title and tenth Grand Slam.

He started every game, emptying the tank inside the first 60 minutes of each match.

4. Danilo Fischetti

Ange Capuozzo stole the headlines in Italy’s historic win over Wales in March, but there was no question who deserved all the plaudits.

Loosehead prop Danilo Fischetti was sensational that day, capping off a brilliant Guinness Six Nations campaign.

Part of a much-improved Italian scrum, Fischetti’s true strength lies in what he provides in the loose, finishing the Championship as both the top tackling prop and just one turnover behind the top jackals in the entire competition – needless to say he was the most dangerous breakdown threat in the front row.

Still just 24, Fischetti signed with London Irish ahead of the new season and should only get better as part of a young Italian side on the rise.

5. Zander Fagerson

Now well-established as Scotland’s first-choice tighthead prop, Zander Fagerson has continued his upward trajectory so far in 2022.

Starting four games from a possible five games, Fagerson was a shining light as Gregor Townsend’s side finished fourth, level on points with old foes England.

After initially breaking through back in 2016, Fagerson has overtaken WP Nel to become first choice and started all three Tests in Argentina this summer.

In the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, only two props made more tackles than Fagerson’s 36, and unlike that duo, he did not miss one. Likewise, he was also third for tackles broken, demonstrating his ability to contribute both in attack and defence, while also carrying out his primary role in the set-piece.

Honourable mentions

Cyril Baille has already earned a mention and would certainly be in this list were it not for injury. There’s a strong case for Andrew Porter as well, who has thrived since switching to loosehead prop from tighthead. With another season in the new role, he should only get better. The turnover in Wales cost Wyn Jones, who almost certainly would have made this list a year ago, while Pierre Schoeman was also very close for Scotland.