Here’s my team of the World Cup – let me know what you think.
One or two controversial selections, but the wealth of talent on show meant there was always going to be disappointment for those that missed out.
1. Andrew Sheridan (England)
First name on the teamsheet, primarily because I started at the top, but also because he’s now the most-feared scrummager in World Rugby.
2. John Smit (South Africa)
The World Cup-winning captain led his team with pride and courage, and I would have liked to have seen Thabo Mbeki hoisting the big hooker onto his shoulders, rather than the other way around.
3. Census Johnston (Samoa)
Gave the Samoan pack its teeth. Several teams of the tournament have selected Carl Hayman, but surely only on reputation rather than impact at this World Cup.
4. Victor Matfield (South Africa)
The best lineout forward in the world, and made a big contribution in the loose. Was responsible almost single-handedly for dominating England at the set-piece.
5. Simon Shaw (England)
Powerful tight game and prolific loose game. A revelation for England in this World Cup, and helped give Sheridan the necessary shove to destroy Australia.
6. Schalk Burger (South Africa)
Despite wearing the number 7 shirt, he was far and away the best blindside in the tournament. Marshalled South Africa’s defence in the final, and regularly contributed to their score throughout the competition.
7. Thierry Dusatoir (France)
A star of the French victory over the All Blacks, Dusatoir emerged as an outstanding openside, winning the battle of the breakdown with Richie McCaw.
8. Finau Maka (Tonga)
Spearheaded Tonga’s famous victory over Samoa, and almost carried them through to the knockout stages. Big guns, big hair, big game player.
9. Fourie du Preez (South Africa)
Now widely regarded as the best scrum-half in the world, and deserved to lift the trophy. His tactical nous took some of the pressure away from Butch James.
10. Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina)
My player of the tournament, without question. Executed the Pumas’ gameplan expertly, dropping the ball onto a sixpence whenever required.
11. Bryan Habana (South Africa)
The record-equalling try-scorer had a great World Cup. Several of his tries required a lot of finishing, and luckily he’s now on the same dream team as Takudzwa Ngwenya.
12. Luke McAlister (New Zealand)
The only kiwi representative, but deserves his place. Always looked dangerous with ball in hand, and some might say he was unlucky to be sin-binned against France!
13. Stirling Mortlock (Australia)
Looked a class act throughout with hard, direct running and nearly rescued his team despite the watching forwards crumbling around him.
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya (USA)
Bryan Habana couldn’t get near him, and makes this team for that searing break alone. He lit up the World Cup, and will be dining out on it for years to come.
15. Percy Montgomery (South Africa)
Percy epitomised calmness under pressure in the final, slotting four penalties for the winners, and standing firm at the back.