New Zealand is well represented with 10 out of 15 players so it doesn’t take the best Tispter in the world to predict who will win the Rugby 2015 World Cup
At 15 the choice would have to be in-between Willie Le Roux (South Africa) and Israel Dagg (New Zealand) even if both would be pushed by European player of the season, Rob Kearney (Ireland). Kearney has serious gas and operating behind this back division would cause havoc.
- At 14 it’s either Tommy Bowe (Ireland) or Julian Savea (New Zealand). Bowe has been predatory and influential, a big presence in the Ireland back line, scoring tries against South Africa and Australia. Savea, on the other-hand is a brilliant, newish talent that the wider rugby world hasn’t quite woken up to, but could easily become the biggest star, and name, in the 2015 World Cup.
- At 13 it can only be New Zealand’s Cory Jane. Having to pick a sub it would have to be Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) a reliable and sturdy player.
- At 12 one can only hope Jean de Villiers (South Africa’s captain) recovers fast and well after his horrible-looking knee dislocation against Wales. De Villiers is the brain as well as the brawn of that South Africa midfield and would keep out New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams or Ma’a Nonu.
- At 11 Conrad Smith, possibly the most underrated player in world rugby. He has the best percentage/win record of any player in Test rugby with over 50 caps. Jonny May (England), far from the finished article, still prone to the occasional walkabout moment but just as le Roux thrilled at Twickenham so had May the previous week when scorching past Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg.
- At 10 two words suffice, Dan Carter. Johnny Sexton (Ireland) is not close, but still makes the subs. He is the eyes and ears of coach Joe Schmidt on the field, the man in charge of implementing the Schmidt game plan to the last detail, assured and accurate in all that he does.
- At 9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand) gets the nod ahead of Ireland’s Conor Murray as he is the motor that keeps the All Black machine purring. Smith has always been a livewire but proving himself to be tactically astute as well. Without injury we might have taken into consideration Australia’s Will Genia, who isn’t back to his best but still remains of pure class.
- At 8 the choice falls for Argentinean Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, always amongst the best rugby players in the world and is a complete player. Behind him it could be a fight between Jamie Heaslip (Ireland) and Louis Picamoles (France), if he is in the mood.
- At 7 it’s the one and only Richie McCaw. There has never been a better and more annoying openside but if he werereffed properly he would concede a string of penalties for offside but still remains the best. His sub, Chris Robshaw (England, capt) had a tough autumn but stood his ground and went toe-to-toe with the best southern hemisphere opensides proving he has it all.
- At 6 Jerome Kaino (New Zealand) has managed to eclipse the two greats of the game alongside, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw. Kaino is athletic and powerful, creative as well as destructive. Sub would be Thierry Dusautoir, especially the one who outplayed New Zealand on his own in the World Cup Final.
- At 5 Paul O’Connell (Ireland)is as all-consuming in his play as ever, always grafting, always a rallying point and gets selected just ahead of Eben Etzebeth (South Africa).
- At 4 Courtney Lawes (England) although hampered by knocks in a couple of games, Lawes proved that he is now a mature presence on the field, running England’s productive line-out and still clattering opponents in the tackle. Sam Whitelock will be around for years to come and is for sure, up there with the very best.
At 3Tony Woodcock (New Zealand)does his talking on the pitch but on his day, could be challenged for this position by England’s Dan Cole.
- At 2 Agustin Creevy (Argentina).Dylan Hartley would have got top billing but for his silly yellow card against South Africa. Creevy’s selection is acknowledgment of the Pumas’ significant 18-13 win over a French side that was coming to prominence itself.
- At 1 Joe Marler (England) is no longer the pantomime villain he was perceived to be when he first came on the scene with his in-your-face Mohican. Has grown immensely in stature this year, clinical in all aspects of his game. His sub would be Bismark du Plessis’s very own substitute Adriaan Straus (South Africa).