Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has named a pair of All Blacks as his picks for the greatest opensides of all-time.
Writing in The Sunday Times, the No.8 who was no slouch himself, unsurprisingly named Richie McCaw as his greatest of all time at openside, with Michael Jones taking the number two spot.
McCaw was named World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year Award on three occasions (2006, 2009, 2010) and is widely accepted as the greatest openside to have played the game.
Dallaglio said that he couldn’t “see how anyone would not have McCaw as their best openside.”
“Just look at the figures: 148 test caps, with a win rate of almost 90 per cent – and 110 of those as captain.
“Probably the only player I know who was so dedicated to getting better that he turned down an invite to Prince William’s wedding in 2015.”
“Stuart Barnes, who also had McCaw in the No.1 spot suggested his leadership was also a huge part of his mystic. He wrote “hard to know where McCaw’s greatness as a captain ends and his ability as an openside begins.”
“There have been bigger, nastier and faster sevens but none has endured like the Crusader and none has possessed the capacity to dominate the breakdown like the All Black skipper.”
The more athletic Michael Jones, the All Blacks openside who dominated in the late 1980s and early 1990s and who many Kiwis still favour ahead of McCaw, is described as a “the Porsche of opensides, purring up on the shoulder of his three-quarters, cutting opposing tens in two, doing everything at high-speed precision’’, compared to McCaw’s ‘battered old roadster’.
Other players made both Barnes and Dallaglio’s list including current Welsh tyro Justin Tipuric. Wallaby great George Smith, England’s Peter Winterbottom, Ireland’s Fergus Slattery also feature in both the former internationals’ top ten lists in the position.
Recently retired back rows like Sam Warburton, Schalk Burger and Heinrich Brussow, are also named. There’s no room however for any Scottish, Italian, Japanese, Fijian, Samoan or Tongan’s on the list; with only Argentina getting a nod for the New World, with Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe taking Dallaglio’s 10th spot.
LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO: 1: Richie McCaw (NZ), 2: Michael Jones (NZ), 3: Peter Winterbottom (England), 4: George Smith (Australia), 5: Neil Back (England), 6: Fergus Slattery (Ireland), 7: Sam Warburton (Wales), 8: Schalk Burger (South Africa), 9: Justin Tipuric (Wales), 10: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina).
STUART BARNES: 1: Richie McCaw (NZ), 2: David Pocock (Australia), 3: Michael Jones, 4: Ruben Kruger (South Africa), 5: George Smith (Australia), 6: Fergus Slattery (Ireland), 7: Peter Winterbottom (England), 8: Heinrich Brüssow (South Africa), 9: Serge Betsen (France), 10: Justin Tipuric (Wales).
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