As every sports fan knows, when you’re growing up you always ponder about the best players in the world and imagine what it would be like to pull together your ultimate team of players if the funding was endless. Unfortunately we all know this is never going to happen, even if Toulon are giving it a good shot. Now this is just for a bit of fun but please do let me know what you think and who you would have in yours in the comments section below. Anyway here’s my Rugby World XV.
Loosehead – Andrew Sheridan
Although he may no longer be involved with the England set-up Sheridan’s move to France seems to have completely revitalised him as a player. An injury free season last year saw him play a key role in helping Toulon reach the Top 14 final and win the Heineken Cup. His destructive scrummaging and impressive ball carrying make him a great all-rounder.
Hooker – Bismarck du Plessis
Whilst not the most accurate line-out thrower in the world Bismarck du Plessis still maintains a reasonable percentage, however it is his play in the loose that sees him in here. A powerful runner with ball in hand and a beast in defence du Plessis very much leads from the front. His scrummaging ability under the new engagement laws would also be a huge advantage.
Tighthead – Adam Jones
Despite not looking anything like a professional athlete Adam Jones still remains one of the most incredible players in world rugby. His fantastic work in the scrum during this years Lions tour was a cornerstone of the series victory and he looks set to continue his good form into the next World Cup. Given the pressure now placed on the tighthead with the new scrum engagement laws a player of Jones’ capability is imperative for any team.
Lock – Eben Etzebeth
At just 21 years of age Etzebeth has already accumulated 17 caps for the Springboks with plenty more set to follow. Despite looking a lot like Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Bruno Etzebeth has an impressive amount of dog about him as we saw when he squared up to Jim Hamilton this summer. He also offers a decent line-out option making him an impressive all-rounder.
Lock – Sam Whitelock
Sam Whitelock is rapidly becoming known as one of the foremost line-out operators in world rugby. His play in the loose is also nothing to be sniffed at as he is tough in defence and attacks the breakdown with aggression. Whitelock is turning into a real on-the-field leader making him a strong addition to a pack already brimming with experience.
Blindside – Steven Luatua
Despite being a relative newcomer to the international scene, Luatua has made his mark already on an All Blacks side full of talent. Luatua’s defensive work rate has been impressive as he helps support McCaw at the breakdown and is capable of putting in huge hits. It is his work in attack that has made the real mark however, his running ball in hand has seen him make plenty of yardage and he always seems to be able to get himself in the right place at the right time.
Openside – Michael Hooper
This was a really tough decision as McCaw is obviously a truly fantastic openside flanker able to influence the referee and make a nuisance of himself. Hooper however is starting to emerge from the shadow of McCaw in the stakes for the best openside flanker in the world. His incredible work rate around the field and ability to steal turnover ball is truly amazing whilst his pace adds an extra element to his attacking play.
Number 8 – Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe
Lobbe wins his place in the side for his all-round ability in the back row (Lobbe has been known to play at 6,7 or 8 for club and country). Argentina always look a very different side with Lobbe in the starting line-up, his leadership abilities are of particular importance as he helps to organise the team around him. His ball carrying and defensive work also make him a fantastic all-rounder for any team.
Scrum-half – Kahn Fotuali’i
Fotauli’i has rapidly emerged as one of the most impressive half-backs currents playing in world rugby. His speed around the pitch and delivery of the ball from the base of rucks helps keep his team on the front foot and ensure the opposition are constantly under pressure. His sniping runs and quick thinking also make him an exciting option in attack as he constantly makes yardage for his team.
Fly-half – Dan Carter
Records international points scorer Dan Carter is in this team for being the best all-rounder currently in world rugby. His kicking and all-round game management ensure he is able to keep his team playing in the right areas of the field. This ability is perfectly complimented by his ability to attack ball-in-hand. Carter is equally comfortable taking the ball to the gain-line or firing it out to his backs to run with. His ability from the kicking tee doesn’t even need mentioning.
Wing – Julian Savea
Savea has rapidly emerged as one of the most exciting attacking talents in world rugby. His pace and power ensure he is one of the most exciting players in the world to watch. Willing to chase the ball all day and put pressure on the opposition, Savea’s work rate is second to none and his aggression in defence keep his wing solid.
Inside Centre – Wesley Fofana
Equally comfortable on the wing or in the centres, Fofana has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in French rugby. Fofana is one of those players who seems to have the ability to find space where others see none and as such is more than capable of making ground for his team. His breaks for Clermont and France have seen him score plenty of points for both club and country.
Outside Centre – Brian O’Driscoll
Despite now being at the grand old age of 34 O’Driscoll still remains one of the greatest players to have ever taken to a rugby field. He can make a line-break like few others whilst his defensive work rate is rarely matched by teammates or the opposition. His truly outstanding work at the breakdown where he acts almost as an extra back-row forward make him an excellent addition to any side. He is also a fantastic leader on and off the field.
Wing – George North
North well and truly made his mark on the world stage this summer after his impressive performances for the Lions as they won their first series in 16 years. North is a powerful runner ball in hand as we saw on a number of occasions over the summer. His huge frame is incredibly deceptive as we watched him side-step players who in appearance at least look considerably more nimble.
Full-back – Israel Dagg
Dagg as now fully established himself as the number 1 full-back for the best rugby team in the world. His all-round ability make him a formidable opposition in both attack and defence. Dagg has an impressive boot on him whilst also being able to play as a second receiver for his team. He is an exciting player to watch going forwards whilst being a safe pair of hands in defence, and particularly under the high ball.
I believe this team has a perfect blend of youth and experience with a solid platform established by the forwards and talented backs able to take the ball through or round the opposition. Let us know who would be in your World Rugby XV…