The inside centre – who stands closest to the fly half when the backs line up – and the outside centre tend to be strong, dynamic runners with a good eye for exposing gaps in the opposition defence. In attack they tend to run very direct lines.

The centres take on their opposite number in an attempt to either break the defensive line, or draw in enough opposition defenders to create space and try-scoring opportunities for their teammates. As such they need to be strong and powerful and, when attack turns into defence, they must also be accomplished at tackling.

The inside centre is often the more creative in a centre pairing and should be able to pass and kick nearly as well as the fly half. In either defence or attack, the inside centre tends to be all action – dishing out the tackles and then drawing the opposition defence.

Meanwhile, the outside centre tends to be the faster of the two and the ability to offload the ball quickly to the wings is also vital.

Key abilities

Powerful and dynamic running, strong tackling, good passing.

Famous centres

Jeremy Guscott (England and Lions), Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland and Lions), André Boniface (France), Will Greenwood (England and Lions), Danie Gerber (South Africa), Tim Horan (Australia), Philippe Sella (France).