Rugby’s Wasted Talent XV


We select a team of players who have failed to reach their full potential for club and country for a whole variety of reasons…

15.James Hook

There’s not much more James Hook could have done to improve his international prospects, however his ability to play across the backline has become a hinderance seeing him used as a utility player off the bench rather than starting regularly.

14.James O’Connor

Fortunately for O’Connor, he still has time on his side at just 24, however he could already have been firmly established in the Wallabies set-up going into this years World Cup. He’s already nearing 50 caps, and now just needs to get his head down.

13.Sonny Bill Williams

There’s no doubting that Williams is a world class athlete as he has proven time and again. The issue however is just how good of a union player he could be right now had he focussed solely on the one sport and established himself in the All Blacks.

12.Gavin Henson

Henson was potentially the most gifted Welsh back of the last 30 years, however his off-field distractions have seen him fail to live up to expectation. How different things could have been if he’d focussed on his rugby, rather than chasing fame.

11.Zac Guildford

Although Guildford was hardly a regular starter for the All Blacks, his off field troubles saw his international career cut short prematurely. Had he stayed in New Zealand and focussed on his rugby who knows how things could have turned out.

10.Danny Cipriani

Many saw Cipriani as the natural replacement for Jonny Wilkinson, however his failure to concentrate on rugby soon put a stop to that. He’s now back playing some good rugby, but he could have had a very different career if things had been different.

9.Freddie Michalak

Michalak has to be one of the most hot and cold players on the planet. Capable of sublime moments of genius, yet prone to fading out of games entirely. If he could of brought some consistency to his game, France would have had a real star.

8.Pierre Spies

Spies has all the natural attributes to be a truly great rugby player, however a combination of mixed form and injuries have somewhat halted his progress. He does however still have time to prove himself at the very top level.

7.George Smith

You could hardly claim Smith has failed to deliver on his talents, however you can’t help but question how things would have turned out if he’d stayed in Australia. It would have been much easier to draw comparisons with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

6.Tom Croft

Croft looked set to be a star for England with his impressive turn of pace, however a series of injuries have somewhat halted his progress and seen him drop down the pecking order. It could have been very different had he remained fit for an extended period.

5.Michael Paterson

Michael Paterson was quite possibly the stand-out signing of the season in last years Premiership, however at the age of 29 you can’t help but feel there are several missed opportunities on the international stage for one reason or another.

4.Mamuka Gorgodze

We’ve included Gorgodze as it’s a shame to think about such a talented player not being able to play regularly against the best international sides. The Georgian is a fantastic player, and deserves to be competing regularly in a tournament like the Six Nations.

3.Salesi Ma’afu

The Wallabies prop has been out of international contention for a couple of years now, during which he has been playing some of the best rugby of his career. Although playing well, it’s a shame not to see him competing on the international stage.

2.Chilliboy Ralepelle

South African hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle looked to be about to make a step up in his career after moving to Toulouse last year, however a positive drugs test saw his contract cancelled, and a return to France.

1.Soane Tonga’uiha

Tonga’uiha came out of the Championship to become a key player for Northampton Saints before making the decision to head to France. Since then his form has dipped and he has failed to re-establish himself at the very top level.



About In The Loose Team


  1. Rupeni Caucau

  2. Last week you were proclaiming Tom Croft was vastly overrated…make your minds up!

  3. Brent Russell and soon François.Steyn

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