The Rugby Paper - - Letters | Views -

1. Craig Dowd – He was the Auck­land and All Blacks loose­head when I was grow­ing up and I was lucky enough to play with him in my first year out of school.

2. Dy­lan Hart­ley – Keven Mealamu de­serves a big shout but Dy­lan is still play­ing so I’ve gone for my old Saints cap­tain. A very good leader for club and coun­try.

3. Carl Hay­man – I came up against him a few times and he is as strong as he is hon­est which as a prop is very rare. Whether on the front foot or strug­gling he al­ways pushed straight!

4. Court­ney Lawes – He’s so ath­letic and phys­i­cal in the en­gine room that it’s like hav­ing an ex­tra back row on the pitch.

5. Paul O’Con­nell – His lead­er­ship qual­i­ties give him the nod. The way he led was se­cond to none. He did it through his ac­tions: where he went his team fol­lowed.

6. Jerry Collins – He was one of the hard­est men I ever ran into. Sim­i­lar to Court­ney Lawes, but even more phys­i­cal.

7. Richie McCaw – Like O’Con­nell, his pres­ence on the field lifted the en­tire team. He had such an aura that his team­mates never had to look for some­one to lead. It was so nat­u­ral to him.

8. Sione Lauaki – The for­mer All Black who sadly died ear­lier this year was one of my close friends. Such a phys­i­cal pres­ence ball in hand given his size which gave you go-for­ward most of the time.

9. Maxime Machenaud – I played with him at Rac­ing 92 and he’s a re­ally solid player. He’s very phys­i­cal and never backs down from the chal­lenge against the big Top 14 for­wards.

10. Dan Carter – Still one of the best fly-halves in the world. It’s like his rugby brain is a few steps ahead of the op­po­si­tion and other fly-haves.

11. Jonah Lomu – I played against him in my first year in NPC. I was play­ing for Auck­land and he was at Welling­ton. If you need more ex­pla­na­tions, go on YouTube!

12. Sammy Tuitupou – He reads the game re­ally well and punches well above his weight when it comes to hit­ting peo­ple. Even if he’s half your size you def­i­nitely knows when he hits you.

13. Con­rad Smith – Sim­i­lar to Carter in the way he reads the game. Such a good ball-player, he sees things long be­fore they hap­pen.

14. Si­tiveni Si­vi­vatu – It was a toss-up with his cousin Joe Roko­coko be­cause they’re both quite sim­i­lar. Si­tiveni edges it be­cause of his abil­ity to turn some­thing out of noth­ing. Very spe­cial player.

15. Ben Smith – I played against him with Tonga and he was just mag­nif­i­cent at re­turn­ing kicks. Al­ways the one start­ing the counter at­tacks to get the All Blacks go­ing from deep. So good un­der high­balls too.

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