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France and Ireland dominate the World XV chosen by The Rugby Pod

By Liam Heagney
Antoine Dupont of France and Ireland's Johnny Sexton (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Rugby Pod co-hosts Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode have named their current World XV, including six French players, five Irish, two South Africans, one Fijian and one New Zealander. With the May 28 Killik Cup clash between Steve Hansen’s World XV and Eddie Jones’ Barbarians at Twickenham now just weeks away, ex-internationals Hamilton and Goode got in the mood by choosing their own World XV on current form.

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It won’t remotely be the team that ex-All Blacks boss Hansen will ultimately select for the match in London as the Rugby Pod have chosen a host of players who will be hoping to be involved in club action on the same weekend.

There are also two players included who have been recently injured and had their club seasons prematurely ended. Here is how their selection debate unfolded:

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JIM HAMILTON: It’s important that we think of our World XV now because this game is on the horizon and we all want to go to it. I’m going to go with my forwards, starting with the most important, starting with the foundation. I have put Cyril Baille at one. This is right now on current form from the rugby that I have seen. I have gone for Dan Sheehan at hooker. All-rounder, brilliant.

ANDY GOODE: Good shout.

JH: I loved his interview as well with Brian O’Driscoll so maybe he is in my psyche as well. Tighthead was hard. If Uini Atonio didn’t play how he did (for La Rochelle) against Saracens I would have been thinking of Tadhg Furlong. Is it (Tyrel) Lomax, the All Black? I would have put him in there but I haven’t, I have gone Uini Atonio. Second rows, really interesting. I went Eben Etzebeth, who is definitely in, and Brodie Retallick just because he is Brodie Retallick – but in my mind, he isn’t the form lock at the moment. I have gone Thibaud Flament for how he played in the Six Nations (with France) and how he played for Toulouse.

AG: What about James Ryan?

JH: There is not much in it. Back row, again this is going to be up for debate. I have gone Caelan Doris at six, Charles Ollivon at seven because looks like me and Ardie Savea at eight because he screams and shouts. He is one of my favourite players and I love his social media page as well. Back row is always going to be up for debate because there are a lot of players who could be in a World XV.

AG: The one I am going to ask you about is Josh van der Flier, world player of the year.

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JH: That was last year. This is right now, this is today… I’m picking the forwards.

AG: Not bad, Jim. Can’t believe you haven’t picked Josh van der Flier, though. World player of the year and you work for World Rugby… okay, so we get into the backs. I don’t know how he won it but he won the Six Nations players of the tournament when Ireland won a Grand Slam, but (Antoine) Dupont, the best nine on the planet. Here is one for you that you won’t agree with, Jim, as you have written him off many times and you tried to retire him four years ago, Johnny Sexton.

JH: Okay, I thought you were going to give me Handre Pollard. Sexton is injured.

AG: But he got injured in the last game of the Six Nations towards the end when he had won the Grand Slam for Ireland playing ridiculously well.

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JH: So you’d put Johnny Sexton in right now?

AG: Name me a 10 that has played better. He has just won a Grand Slam, dominated the team, captained the team. Name me a 10.

JH: Finn Russell.

AG: C’mon mate. He had a good game against England. Had a good game against Wales. What happened against Ireland?

JH: I don’t know, I can’t remember. Too long ago.

AH: Finn for talent, yes, but as a 10, I’m a 10 that was a controlling 10. I didn’t have the talents that Finn has or anywhere near it, so I like a controlling 10 and Sexton has the lot, so I am going Johnny Sexton. Centres, Levani Botia at 12. On form, you name me another centre. I thought about (Samu) Kerevi but he is playing in Japan, so he is taking it easy at the minute.

JH: Sione Tuipulotu?

AG: Not bad, good shout, but when Botia runs at him, who is winning that collision?

JH: If you’re putting Botia in, no one can’t argue with that.

AG: 13, Garry Ringrose. He is just outstanding at the minute, without a shadow of a doubt. Back three is really interesting and this is where there is a lot of debate. Back three – Cheslin Kolbe gets in the team, he is a legend. (Damian) Penaud on the other wing. And then my full-backs, I was between two, Hugo Keenan, who doesn’t necessarily look like he should be a rugby player the way he runs, and then Thomas Ramos is the other one.

JH: Ramos is on fire.

AG: Ramos is ridiculous at the minute, but I am going with Hugo Keenan.

JH: You have been manipulated in Copper Face Jacks, that’s why. Copper Face Jacks has taken you to a point where you are blinded by love.

AG: I’m there in a few weeks’ time as well, Jim. I’m going for Irish players. Hugo Keenan at 15.

JH: Captain, let’s pick a captain.

AG: Has got to be a forward. I’m a big believer that forwards need to be captains to win World Cups. World XV captain? Caelan Doris.

JH: Nah, I’m going Ardie Savea. He did that scary movement thing which made me feel a bit funny, and he can do the haka. So if they need to do the haka, he is the captain because he can stand at the front and do it, do that funny thing with his finger.

The Rugby Pod World XV:
15. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
14. Damian Penaud (France)
13: Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
12: Levani Botia (Fiji)
11: Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)
10: Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
1. Cyril Baille (France)
2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
3. Uini Atonio (France)
4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
5. Thibaud Flament (France)
6. Caelan Doris (Ireland)
7. Charles Ollivon (France)
8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand – capt)

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4 Comments
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Gerald 452 days ago

The Worlds media and attention has totally shifted to the NHemisphere and they almost forget about NZ. Come WC time the ABs will( as usual) be the dominant force and team to beat. Their athleticism is unmatched across the park, and the French and Irish are living in cloud cuckoo land if they see it any other way. There is more back line talent in Blues and Crusaders alone than in the whole NHem backlines. But writing up the Irish and French suits ABs and Boks perfectly.

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William 4 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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