Four All Black greats have featured heavily in a South African magazine’s list of the greatest test rugby players of the past 25 years.

Respected rugby publication SA Rugby Mag released the lists of starting XVs and bench selections from five of its pundits, all of whom picked All Black greats Christian Cullen, Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw in their teams.

The Kiwi foursome were the only players in the world to make all five teams – the next best being former Springbok Victor Matfield who was picked four times.

The SA Rugby Mag pundits – who included Jon Cardinelli, Craig Lewis, Wade Pretorius, Mariette Adams and Dylan Jackson – had universal praise for the four All Blacks.

Lewis called Cullen “one of the most devastating fullbacks the game has ever had”, Cardelli labelled Carter “the quintessential all-round threat”, Adams said Read was “the dynamic master of all trades in world rugby” and Pretorious praised McCaw as “one of the all-time greats and a superstar of the sport choosing any metric”.

Lewis and Pretorious selected nine All Blacks in their starting lineups, Cardellli and Adams went for seven, and Jack picked six.

Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick made hooker in three of the teams. Pretorius even went for an all-New Zealand front row of Owen Franks, Fitzpatrick and Tony Woodcock.

Other All Blacks to feature prominently were Jonah Lomu and Ma’a Nonu, who made three teams, and Conrad Smith who was picked twice.

Jon Cardinelli’s list:

15 Christian Cullen (New Zealand), 14 Bryan Habana (South Africa), 13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand), 12 Tim Horan (Australia), 11 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa), 6 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 5 Victor Matfield (South Africa), 4 Martin Johnson (England), 3 Owen Franks (New Zealand), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 1 Beast Mtawarira (South Africa).

Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu (New Zealand), 17 Os du Randt (South Africa), 18 Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), 19 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 20 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 21 George Gregan (Australia), 22 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 23 Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Craig Lewis’ list:

15 Christian Cullen (New Zealand), 14 Jeff Wilson (New Zealand), 13 Jaque Fourie (South Africa), 12 Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), 11 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 6 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 5 Victor Matfield (South Africa), 4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), 2 Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), 1 Beast Mtawarira (South Africa).

Subs: 16 Keith Wood (Ireland), 17 Tony Woodcock (New Zealand), Owen Franks (New Zealand), 19 John Eales (Australia), 20 Schalk Burger (South Africa), 21 George Gregan (Australia), 22 Stephen Larkham (Australia), 23 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa).

Wade Pretorius’ list:

15 Christian Cullen (New Zealand), 14 Jason Robinson (England), 13 Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), 12 Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), 11 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 9 George Gregan (Australia), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 6 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 5 John Eales (Australia), 4 Martin Johnson (England), 3 Tony Woodcock (New Zealand), 2 Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), 1 Owen Franks (New Zealand).

Subs: 16 Keith Wood (Ireland), 17 Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), 18 Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 19 Paul O’Connell (Ireland), 20 George Smith (Australia), 21 Justin Marshall (New Zealand), 22 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 23 David Campese (Australia)

Mariette Adams’ list:

15 Christian Cullen (New Zealand), 14 David Campese (Australia), 13 Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), 12 Tim Horan (Australia), 11 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 9 George Gregan (Australia), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 6 Jerry Collins (New Zealand), 5 Victor Matfield (South Africa), 4 John Eales (Australia), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), 2 Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), 1 Os du Randt (South Africa).

Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 17 Beast Mtawarira (South Africa), 18 Owen Franks (New Zealand), 19 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), 20 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 21 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 22 Stephen Larkham (Australia), 23 Ben Smith (New Zealand)

Dylan Jack’s list:

15 Christian Cullen (New Zealand), 14 Shane Williams (Wales), 13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand), 12 Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), 11 Bryan Habana (South Africa), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 6 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 5 Victor Matfield (South Africa), 4 John Eales (Australia), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 1 Beast Mtawarira (South Africa).

Subs: 16 John Smit (South Africa), 17 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina), 18 Phil Vickery (England), 19 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 20 Danie Rossouw (South Africa), 21 George Gregan (Australia), 22 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 23 Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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