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Playing out wide on the side of the pitch, the winger is a team’s finisher in attack. A winger is also often the last line of defence when they don’t have the ball and as such, pace is their major resource.
One of the fastest wingers in the game is South Africa’s Bryan Habana, whose 100m time of 10.4 seconds would have been enough to qualify for the men’s 100m semi-final at the Beijing Olympics. He applied all his pace in the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup and finished as the tournament’s top try-scorer. He also famously raced a cheetah in a charity event, but the big cat won by a whisker…
Although wingers have traditionally been small, rapid players, the modern game favours backs who can combine pace with power, meaning that Jonah Lomu (6ft 5in), Ben Cohen (16st 3lb) and Matt Banahan (6ft 7in) have all enjoyed success out wide in recent years.
Pace, acceleration, tackling ability, good handling skills
Jason Robinson (England and Lions), Bryan Habana (South Africa), André Boniface (France), David Campese (Australia), Ieuan Evans (Wales and Lions), Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) and Tony O'Reilly (Ireland and Lions).