DREAMTEAM

The Rugby Paper - - Letters | Views - PAUL TUPAI, BEDFORD AND FOR­MER NORTHAMP­TON LOCK, CHOOSES THE BEST XV HE HAS PLAYED WITH OR AGAINST...

1. Soane Tonga’uiha – Chubby bloke at Bedford but rein­vented him­self at Saints as a de­struc­tive, ball-car­ry­ing prop who loved run­ning. A great bloke and a leg­end at both clubs.

2. Dy­lan Hart­ley – Met Dy­lan in Saints’ academy and took him un­der my wing. Loves the game, proved him­self a great hooker and leader and will cap­tain Eng­land to great things.

3. Phil Boul­ton – Did nine years with this guy and he’s hard as nails on the field and a good bloke off it. Starred in one of our best Bedford teams.

4. Ge­orge Kruis – Came to Bedford for a year and bought into our way. Great at­ti­tude for a young guy and was al­ways des­tined to go on to big things with Eng­land.

5. Alex Rae – Like Dy­lan, came through the Saints academy and is re­ally knowl­edge­able about the game. Didn’t work out at the high­est level but a great leader at Bedford.

6. Sacha Hard­ing – I’ve played with and against some big boys but this guy was one of the biggest hit­ters I’ve come across. Not flash, wasn’t skil­ful but he could cut peo­ple in half. 7. Darren Fox – Mad man who should have won Eng­land caps. Rock hard com­peti­tor with a huge heart. 8. Ben Le­witt – A pretty boy, but al­ways had blood on his jersey when he came off. Should have done bet­ter in his Saints ca­reer, al­ways put his body on the line. 9. Ian Vass – The most skil­ful player you’ll ever come across... and the chub­bi­est! Had a big fu­ture at Saints but was un­lucky with in­jury and had Matt Dawson and Mark Robin­son in his way. Read the game well and is now a great coach. 10. Car­los Spencer – The ma­gi­cian! A guy I read about all the time in the pa­pers in New Zealand, where I played against him. To get the chance to play with him at Saints was a priv­i­lege. 11. Josh Bas­sett – The most un­der­rated wing in Eng­land. Came through Bedford’s sys­tem, rep­re­sented Eng­land U20s with us and now star­ring for Wasps. Great to see him do­ing well and Eng­land should take a look.

12. Owen Far­rell – Like Kruis, bought into the Bedford way when on loan and never thought he was bet­ter than any­one else. Good bloke, men­tally tough.

13. Dun­can Tay­lor – As a skinny 19-year-old with dread­locked hair he didn’t look like a rugby player, but had su­per skills and a big heart and Sara­cens spot­ted his po­ten­tial. 14. Chris Ash­ton – Scored tries, but also a great guy off the field who brought char­ac­ter to the dress­ing room at Saints. Why did Eng­land turn their backs on him? 15. Bruce Rei­hana – Ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional. Won­der­ful at­tacker who ex­uded All Blacks class. Des­tined to be a top coach.

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