Centers are clever. They have vision and passing skills to put their fullback and wings into space, pace to make the outside break, strength to take the ball up to the opposition and/or set up play for continuity (ball retention: never lose the ball).
The center must be able to read defensive situations, organise his own defence and shut down the opposition backline.
A center is able to pass off either hand (left and right). Having a variation in passes is important to put players into space and manipulate the defence with powerful and angled running. Receive a flat pass at full speed, accelerate before you catch the ball. He must combine with the wingers and fullback to become an attacking strike force.
Both centers must be convincing when executing moves switch - miss - loop - wide or close. They must also be able to break the line with footwork and put people into holes. What is the difference between the two: very generalistic:
Inside Centre: more physical player
Outside Centre: more of a play-maker
He must be the 'rock'. He leads the defensive pattern. A player who should not hesitate to 'take the ball up' if things get tough on the outside. We used the phrase "Crash-ball Center". He needs the ability to send the long wipers kick to the open side, chip kick to turn the defence, pass well and have the pace and acceleration to get back into play (support) after a miss move.
Inside Centers need to support their fly-half in contact.
The center with better ball handling skills and will be faster and have better running skills. A position were the player is more of a play-maker because he will be creating space for full-back & wingers to attack.
Sometimes centers are able to give clever kicks through the midfield defence. Chipping over or grubber kick the ball between defenders. A wipe kick places the ball behind the defending wings for your wing to pick up. Experiment with kicking angles.
By doing this the attack also becomes more varied.
The centers must have the confidence to tackle 'head-on' and, be 'hard minded' and should terrorise the opposition both in defence and attack. To improve on this I have in the past played a center at open-side flanker to get him comfortable in the close range stuff. (Simply switch the two players, it helps your flanker to see play in another perspective too).
The tackle area around this inside center can be pretty busy. Communication with others is very important.
* Ability to beat a man one on one
* Kick with either foot
* Comfortable with all types of pass
* Contact skills
* Support runner