Queensland's top 50 rugby union players: Part One
THE Hottest 50 of Queensland Rugby is back with a look at who's hot and who's hotter among rugby union players with links to Queensland.
It's not a strict countdown of the "best" but a judgment on performance, rising star quality, impact on the code, breakthrough status, legacy, gut feel and whether players are playing at home or on the radar abroad.
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An exciting young player on the rise may earn a higher spot in these power rankings than a seven-season stalwart.
Will Genia (No.1) and David Pocock (No.2) topped last year's popular rankings yet have both since retired from Test rugby.
Where do you rank them while they are still influential players for clubs in Japan?
This is also not just a list of players in the Queensland Reds squad when a Queensland product like centre Sam Johnson (Scotland) is excelling in the Six Nations and former State of Origin forward Ben Te'o is playing Super Rugby for Japan's Sunwolves.
The rise of women's rugby with the Queensland flavour to Australia's defence of the rugby sevens gold at the Tokyo Olympics means female players definitely qualify.
You'll have to follow our five-day countdown to No.1 to find out just where all the players rank in The Courier-Mail's Hottest 50.
50 MATT GICQUEL
THE skilful, non-stop flanker makes the list because he's what club footy is all about.
He's a product of the Maleny Bushrangers but has made his mark for GPS in Premier Rugby under his distinctive orange headgear.
He backs up in support like all good flankers and he's now seeing his own potential.
He headed to the Melbourne Rebels to trial and was their best in the pre-season clash against the Reds in Gladstone.
49 SPENCER JEANS
EVERY list needs a ginger.
The halfback was a standout in the First XV at The Southport School in 2018 and is developing his trade in the Reds Academy.
He was invited to the first Junior Wallabies camp in Canberra in January and could be a frontline performer at the World Under-20s Championships in Italy in June-July.
Jeans is quick off the mark, links well with supports and, No.1, he has a fine pass.
Kalani Thomas is another sharp halfback prospect in the Reds Academy.
48 BRYCE HEGARTY
THE Reds fullback was a productive fixture in the backline last year as leading tryscorer (seven).
He's the points punch for the team as goalkicker too and has to keep operating at the elite 75 per cent success rate this season.
He won't ever play for the Wallabies but he's that experienced 70-to-80-game Super Rugby stalwart who is essential to any successful campaign.
47 JAMES MOORE
ONE of the feel-good stories of last year's Rugby World Cup.
The little-known lock rose to be a key starting figure in Japan's fairytale run to the finals.
His 23 tackles were pivotal to the grand 19-12 upset of Ireland early in the tournament.
Yes, he's the same James Moore who was a diligent forward for Easts in Queensland Premier Rugby in 2016 after playing Under-20s for Easts Tigers in rugby league.
He plies his trade with Munakata Sanix Blues in Japan's Top League and will be part of Japan's Test ambitions again this year.
46 EMMA SYKES
THE Sunshine Coast product is an integral part of Australia's sevens planning for the Tokyo Olympics.
She has a neat stutter step, great vision and she's the best kicker in the squad.
The inspiration gained from watching Australia's march to the sevens gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 was very real.
She was late for school that morning after taking in the high on TV.
45 MAC GREALY
AUSTRALIAN rugby has always flourished on young schoolboy talents emerging with tales of sidestepping, matchwinning exploits.
The Downlands College product had such a season last year with two tries to clinch the O'Callaghan Cup 27-21 over Toowoomba Grammar.
Downlands College head coach Garrick Morgan was in raptures: "The full deal ... he'll be a true professional in the future I'm sure."
The teenager is building on his promise in the Reds Academy.
44 GLEN VAIHU
JUST months removed from his time in the First XV at Gregory Terrace, he'd earned a January trial on the wing for the Melbourne Rebels.
He's a smart, resourceful, compact winger with excellent footwork who regularly has double-touch involvements in backline attacks.
The Rebels rate him because, at 18, they've already signed him as a development player and blooded him in the Rebels A team.
43 FILIPO DAUGUNU
ALREADY something of an enigma.
He scored five tries against the Rebels in the pre-season trial in Gladstone with all his pace, panache and elusive footwork.
In an instant, he undid the good work with a dumb spear tackle that means he'll miss the opening four rounds of Super Rugby.
Rugby Australia see exciting potential in the Reds flyer because they topped up a new four-year contract until 2023.
He became eligible for Australian teams last December.
42 PAUL ALO-EMILE
THE Wallabies never got their hands on his scrummaging skills.
The Brisbane State High product decided on a career in Europe instead and his commitment to Samoa has earned 17 Tests and a World Cup adventure to date.
The prop plays in the pink of French club Stade Francais.
41 BEN TOOLIS
THE long-haired lock from Brisbane is underway with another Six Nations campaign for Scotland.
Playing at last year's World Cup pushed his caps tally past 20.
His mum was born in Scotland which meant he could pursue his career as a kilted Aussie after playing his early rugby with Marist College, Ashgrove and GPS in Brisbane.
Tomorrow: The countdown continues with 40 - 31