The greatest opensides of all time: Thierry Dusautoir
Thierry Dusautoir won the IRB Player of the Year award in 2011 - the same year as the All Blacks won the World Cup - such was the French openside's dominance in that tournament
Major teams: Bordeaux-Begles, Colomiers, Biarritz, Toulouse
Country: France Test span: 2006-2015
France caps: 80 (79 starts)
Test points: 30 (6T)
Two World Cup ties against New Zealand with a combined total of 52 tackles represent a pair of defining performances from the Frenchman.
Differing results mean the France flanker will hold contrasting memories of each occasion, although both saw him gallop across the line to finish off sweeping attacks.
The first came at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2007 when Richie McCaw’s All Blacks were suffocated by an assassin in the No 7 shirt, surrendering a 13-3 half-time lead to go down 20-18.
Dusautoir cut down an incredible 38 carriers that evening, a truly effervescent effort. He had not even been named in Bernard Laporte’s 30-man squad for the tournament, drafted in as an injury replacement for Elvis Vermeulen.
Four years on and Dusautoir was captaining Les Bleus on a siege of Eden Park. Though France had lost twice already in the pool stages, once to unfancied Pacific Islanders Tonga, they had a chance to halt the hosts and overwhelming favourites.
Thanks largely to the breakdown disruption of Dusautoir, an upset almost materialised. Without some odd ruck interpretations by referee Craig Joubert, Auckland might have been silenced.
Concentrating fully on the game at 16 following a foundation in judo, Dusautoir went from Bordeaux-Begles to Biarritz via Colomiers before arriving at Toulouse where he accumulated over 200 appearances, not to mention the 2010 Heineken Cup.
Born in the Ivorian city of Abidjan, he is a chemical engineering graduate who penned a resolute response to last year’s terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine for the Huffington Post.
Indeed, though his compatriots are pigeonholed as impassioned yet inconsistent, old adversary Lewis Moody says Dusautoir has always been clinical.
“Thierry is not prone to rushes of blood to the head,” explains the former England captain. “He is very controlled with his emotions, which is why he has been such a good leader for France over the years.”