Six Nations 2016: The tournament's best 'hot steppers'

Wales wing George North, England centre Jonathan Joseph and Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg
Which one of George North, Jonathan Joseph and Stuart Hogg is the hottest stepper of them all?

The 'hot steppers' are the fast-footed strike runners who light up the pitch with their dazzling footwork.

There are many ways to beat your man in rugby - throwing a dummy, burning them for pace or simply trampling them underfoot if you have the power - but few are as thrilling to watch as a supreme stepper leaving his man grasping at thin air.

Think of the all-time Six Nations greats - like Jason Robinson and Shane Williams - and for all their other gifts what we remember most is that ability to beat a man in a telephone box.

So here - in reverse order - are the six men who are BBC Sport's 2016 Six Nations 'hot steppers'. Do you agree with the players on our list? Outraged about who we have missed out? If you want to have your say, please join the debate below.

England winger Anthony Watson

The only man currently rocking a rat's tail in international rugby, Exeter's Nowell complements his all-round skill with some delicious footwork.

Unable to step off his right leg 18 months ago because of a chronic knee injury, an operation means the 22-year-old is back stepping both ways - and he is a threat wherever he pops up in the field.

The lack of extreme top-end speed means he's not quite the most explosive stepper around, but he's not far off and is well worth a place in BBC Sport's 2016 selection.

France winger Teddy Thomas

Another 22-year-old, Thomas is probably the least known of the 'hot steppers' - but that is unlikely to be the case for long.

Injury means he has only five France caps so far, but anyone who saw him side-step Australia scrum-half Nick Phipps on his way to a spectacular solo score in November 2014 knows this is a talent to rank with the very best.

Recalled to face Ireland after less than a full game after his latest return to action, the Racing 92 man adds pace and power to the dazzling footwork, and once he's got a few more Tests under his belt he'll be climbing up this list for certain.

England winger Anthony Watson

At just 21 Bath flyer Watson has already earned 17 caps and his combination of all-round footballing talent, sizzling pace and footwork that makes Michael Jackson look pedestrian mean he is surely on course for many more.

A step that left France winger Brice Dulin with twisted blood in a World Cup warm-up was as sharp as anything seen on a rugby pitch, while Watson's electric kick returns mean opponents know they have to be accurate with their boot or risk the wing stepping his way through the entire defence ranged against him.

Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg

Into the top three and a player who manages to shine despite playing for a team that has lost nine Six Nations games in a row.

Stuart Hogg has "some of the slickest footwork in the world", according to former Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips and we're not going to disagree.

The Scotland full-back, a product of the famous old Hawick club in the Scottish Borders (it is compulsory to read that in the voice of the late, great Bill McLaren), gives the struggling boys in blue a cutting edge that can turn a game in an instant - who can forget that spectacular interception score against Italy in 2013 when the 23-year-old's footwork took him through the Italy defence before his pace did the rest?

Wales winger George North

If this list was about power then North would win hands down and it is tribute to his phenomenal athletic skills that he's even in the running, let alone second.

At 6ft 4in (193cm) and knocking on 17 stone (108kg) he dwarfs many of his rivals, but he allies impressive footwork to his undoubted power and pace. Still only 23 but already with 60 Test caps, North's movement belies his size and he has beaten the most defenders (six) and made the most metres (177) of any player in this year's Six Nations so far.

He carved up Scotland last weekend but it is the brilliant solo score he produced for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against Australia in 2013 that best illustrates why he is a big cat on a hot tin roof.

England centre Jonathan Joseph

North may lead a couple of stats categories, but England centre Joseph tops the most important of them all after two rounds of the Six Nations following his hat-trick against Italy.

However, it is a try the 24-year-old Bath centre scored against Wales last year - the explosive power and footwork that took him past his man, a regular occurrence over the past 12 months for England - that shows why we rate Joseph the hottest stepper of them all.

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Jonathan Joseph scores England's second try against Wales in 2015

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