Stuart Hogg column: Barrett, Keenan, Steward and the superstar full backs who will decide the Rugby World Cup

Beauden Barrett of New Zealand is one of the game’s finest full backs

Full back is such a unique position. You have to have the fundamentals and the foundations in place: be able to catch a high ball, be that last line of defence, make good decisions on the counterattack. But the position is everchanging. Gone are the days of standing at the back and popping up in the outside channels; you can’t just be renowned for being good under high balls or having a strong kicking game. You now have to have an all-round game because you will be asked to step up at first or second receiver and organise players around you.

Other than nine and ten, the full back is up there in a lot of games for the most touches. We have moved towards a more expansive brand of rugby. When I first started playing rugby, you had a 12 or a 13 who would crash it up the middle, make a dent in the opposition backline and then play second or third phase.

Teams are bringing that much line speed now that you need someone with a bit of creativity and a good rugby brain to play off, somehow who can get their hands free and offload or use an attacking kicking game.

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