Queensland's top 50 rugby union players: Part three
THE Hottest 50 of Queensland Rugby is counting down who's hot and who's hotter among rugby union players from grassroots to the elite levels of the code.
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.
An exciting young player on the rise may earn a higher spot in these power rankings than a seven-season stalwart.
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Will Genia (No.1) topped last year's popular rankings yet has since retired from Test rugby.
Where do you rank him while he is still an influential player for a club 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.
30 JOCK CAMPBELL
CONFESSION. Campbell wasn't even on this list 10 days ago but he continues to step up as a poster boy for what you can achieve out of club rugby. After excelling in premiership drives by the University of Queensland and in the NRC, he was given a shot with the Reds last year when they ran out of wingers.
Initially, he looked to lack size and top-end speed but having natural instincts as a winger still counts for plenty. He won the Reds' Rookie of the Year gong last year and has started this season strongly with extra kgs and speed.
His alert kick block and counter-attack try against the Lions last week was typical Campbell.
Great to see such players earning their crack just as former Sunnybank halfback Issak Fines is at the Brumbies after winning the Nathan Sharpe Medal with the Western Force last year.
29 ALYSIA LEFAU-FAKAOSILEA
"ALF" made her Wallaroos debut in the centres last year against Japan at just 18.
Still awaiting her full citizenship tick to be eligible for Olympics selection in sevens.
Injury has delayed her progress in sevens but the moon boot is off and she'll play for an Australian development side against France in five games in Canberra this week.
Alf has natural footwork, a fend, good vision to feed her supports and a crunching love of tackling.
She's a star for SuperW but it's unsure how much she will get to play this season.
Uncle Will (Skelton) can play a bit too.
28 JACK HOWARTH
THE Rockhampton product is on this list to remind rugby union of a schoolboy talent they'll only see in a rival code after this season.
The powerful centre could be the schoolboy star of GPS rugby this year with Brisbane Boys' College which is not overtaxing the crystal ball because he had excellent seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Howarth's first love has always been rugby league. He's been committed to the Melbourne Storm for several years and excelled for the Australians Schoolboys, as a second-rower, when they beat the Junior Kiwis in Brisbane last September.
The Year 12 student has size, a step and regularly busts four or five tackles a game. He's worth the visit to watch BBC play.
27 QUADE COOPER
ONE of the most watchable players in the game for more than a decade but we just can't watch him anymore playing in Japan's second division.
You could still ogle at his best in the early stages of last year's Super Rugby comeback with the Melbourne Rebels when he was directing and scheming.
He left the Rebels to join Kintetsu Liners in Japan's second division where he linked with old pal Will Genia after last year's World Cup.
It's little wonder they won the title and promotion to the Top League later this year.
Still just 31, there's still plenty of rugby ahead for Cooper.
26 BEN TE'O
AT 33, there's a new chapter to his already varied and high-achieving career.
Te'o has taken the plunge into Super Rugby for the first time as a centre with Japan's Sunwolves after playing 20 Tests for Eddie Jones' England team.
He deserves huge credit for transforming from a rugby league forward for Queensland's State of Origin team and the Brisbane Broncos.
25 WILL GENIA
JAPANESE rugby is the new, low-key challenge for Will Genia now the champion halfback has retired from Test rugby after 110 appearances for the Wallabies.
He was back into it after the Rugby World Cup at Kintetsu Liners in Japan's second division.
He paired with long-time ally Quade Cooper and former Reds coach Nick Stiles to win the club promotion to the Top League.
Genia's engine just seems to keep powering on.
He was No.1 on our Hottest 50 list in 2019 in a World Cup year. Heading abroad to play second division and dropping off the Test and Super Rugby scene has been factored into ranking him No.25.
24 FRASER McREIGHT
LAST year's Junior Wallabies captain had a big 2019. The non-stop flanker led from the front when the New Zealand Under-20s were toppled on the Gold Coast and when the team reached the World Under-20s final in Argentina.
He also had his first taste of life with the Reds with three outings off the bench.
His start to 2020 has been delayed by hip surgery and strained ligaments in his hand.
McReight will have chances to make his mark. His ball-running, as a No.7, is a prized asset on top of his energy to contest for ball at the breakdown.
23 DAVID POCOCK
AFTER all he's put his body through over the years, the lower physical intensity of playing in Japan with Panasonic Wild Knights is a wise call. The master flanker is still a high performer in a team likely to make the play-offs. No.2 on this list last year but he's now retired from Test duty with the Wallabies.
22 DARCY SWAIN
AT 22, the Babinda-born product is now a key figure in the ACT Brumbies pack.
He started at lock in the opening round win over the Reds in Canberra.
The Brumbies recruited well by zeroing in on the former Brisbane Boys' College First XV captain and have signed him until the end of 2022.
21 SEAN McMAHON
THERE is still much more to play out in the career of the 26-Test Wallaby.
He headed to Suntory in Japan which pulled him out of contention for last year's Rugby World Cup where his leg-driving, turf-shredding runs were perfectly suited.
He's captain for Suntory at times which shows the lead-by-example style he always plays with.
He still yearns to play for Australia and bobbing up in Cape Town last December to play for the Aussie men's sevens side in a World Series event was a positive.
Could he be a Tokyo Olympics wildcard?
TOMORROW: The Countdown Continues...Nos. 11-20