There seems no better time than the present to roll out a TRB favourite and produce our writers’ respective World XVs. Before getting started, these selections are based on form over the last month. If we were talking about the great mythical battle to save earth through a rugby match, then they might look slightly different.
With that in mind, have a look through Ben and Charlie’s sides and post your own in the comments. We’re sure you’ll completely agree with our selections…!
Ben’s World XV:
15. Rob Kearney, 14. Leigh Halfpenny, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Will Genia; 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Bradley Davies, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Dan Lydiate, 7. David Pocock, 8. Kieran Read
16. Rory Best, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Nathan Sharpe, 19. Chris Robshaw, 20. Aaron Smith, 21. Berrick Barnes, 22. George North
A 10-5 split up front to the Southern Hemisphere is a fair reflection of the SANZAR nations record over their opponents in this month’s respective series, which including Scotland’s success makes it 8/10 victories for the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies combined against the Six Nations sides.
Starting upfront – Bismarck was one of the first names down due to that performance in the 2nd Test. Rumbustious and hideously physical, he took England apart. Tony Woodcock on the loosehead was consistently class but Dan Cole’s pick at tighthead shows just how well he performed in South Africa. Bradley Davies was a physical pain in all three test defeats, whilst Sam Whitelock plays beyond his years. In the back row, Dan Lydiate made his trademark outstanding number of tackles, whilst Pocock terrorised the breakdown and Kieran Read’s 1st Test performance showed his class.
Looking behind – Will Genia & Dan Carter pick themselves but what a pleasure it was to see Carter rejuvenated and recovered from his World Cup injury nightmare and playing so well. The timing, accuracy and agility of SBW and Snake in midfield means they are certainties. Bryan Habana may lack the pace of yesteryear but he is in a rich vein of form, edging out Digby Ioane, whilst Leigh Halfpenny has to be accommodated for his boot. As for Rob Kearney – a series to forget in terms of results, but the ERC European of the Year still showed those majestic touches.
In many ways, lots of players who were in our previous World XV after the Rugby World Cup disappointed in the Summer series – with the likes of Israel Dagg, Digby Ioane, Rhys Priestland, Sam Warburton and many more all dropping off the radar. It just goes to show that by the end of the November internationals, we could have a completely different side on our hands once more.
15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Chris Ashton, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Will Genia; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 7. David Pocock, 8. Jamie Heaslip
16. Rory Best, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Donnacha Ryan, 19. Dan Lydiate, 20. Aaron Smith, 21. Berrick Barnes, 22. Sonny Bill Williams
A nine-six starting line-up split in favour of the Southern Hemisphere victors reflects the pluck and progress of their opponents (the anomalous third Test capitulation of Ireland aside).
Cian Healy’s steady improvement at scrum-time and extra-curricular carries are enough to get him a place, while Richie Gray also makes the tight five on the basis of a 238-minute shift over Scotland’s clean-sweep. Having made 17 tackles as his side beat the Wallabies in Newcastle; he might have sealed a spot before the Pacific Islands. Elsewhere in the pack, Bismarck the behemoth, two effervescent Australians, an exceptional All Black and the battling Dan Cole get the nod. Jamie Heaslip – no doubt a very contentious name – anchors my forwards, having almost hauled Declan Kidney’s charges to a historic win in Christchurch amid a heady, emotionally-charged atmosphere.
The backline is directed by two hall-of-fame halfbacks at the peak of their powers – Will Genia was near-perfect in Brisbane and Dan Carter’s return reeked of unparalleled class. Francois Steyn shades the showier Sonny Bill Williams in the 12 shirt after two fantastic all-round displays against England, while Conrad Smith, the master of New Zealand’s counter-attack, slithers into midfield alongside him. Two series rivals take to the wings, Chris Ashton rewarded for his selfless industry, JP Pietersen for some elegant running and deadly finishing, almost certainly sponsored by invisible juice. Leigh Halfpenny, a totem of reliability, is my last line. With composure in spades and a heart the size of a lion, I trust him with my life.
But how makes your XV? Let us know right now in the comments.