Who was the best flyhalf of the last 20 years?

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    The period of 1998-2018 can be broken down into three main eras of dominance by three international teams.

    Rod Macqueen’s Wallaby team of 1998-2002, Clive Woodward’s England team of 2003-2007, and the All Blacks pretty much dominating from 2010 onwards, despite serious but intermittent challenges from the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks from 2007-2009.

    During these periods of dominance, when each team was at its peak, Australia (1999), England (2003), and the All Blacks (2011 and 2015) were rewarded by holding aloft the Rugby World Cup trophy.

    It is not surprising these teams all featured outstanding flyhalves in their starting lineups. Hence, the commonly held view that a team can’t win a Rugby World Cup without an exceptional No 10.

    The anomaly is probably South Africa’s Rugby World Cup final win over England in 2007. Butch James was a solid flyhalf/inside centre who never locked down the ‘Bok flyhalf position due to leg injuries and suspensions.

    He relied heavily on Fourie du Preez, Francois Steyn and Percy Montgomery to share his playmaking and kicking roles in that tournament, although his defence nullified Jonny Wilkinson quite well in the final. Montgomery actually scored the most points of any player in that World Cup and took on the penalty goal responsibilities.

    I have not included James in the three contenders of the last 20 years, and South Africa in 2009 seemed to enjoy their dominance over the All Blacks through the spearhead of Victor Matfield’s lineout and forward pack, a supporting role being provided by a kicking oriented backline and fast chasers.

    The All Blacks rectified their back three deficiencies by 2010 by introducing the two fullbacks model to counter these tactics.

    I have based the three contenders for the title of ‘The Best Flyhalf of the Last 20 years’ from those three teams who enjoyed sustained success and top dog status over the last two decades, culminating in winning the Rugby World Cup, and those enduring first-choice No. 10’s who were instrumental to their dominance.

    Each flyhalf has their particular key strengths, notably none of them have any glaring weaknesses across the fundamental flyhalf skills such as kicking, passing, running, game management and defence.

    These are the four main areas I have used to make a totally subjective assessment on each player. Warning: no stats involved, gut feel only!

    Stephen Larkham – Wallabies (1998-2007)

    Macqueen took a skinny fullback from the ACT and turned him into the leading flyhalf in world rugby during his reign as Brumbies and Wallabies coach.

    Having made his Wallabies debut on the wing in 1996, Larkham was an ungainly looking athlete, nicknamed “Bernie” by his teammates for his very quiet nature, akin to the ubiquitous corpse in Weekend at Bernie’s.

    His light, physical stature belied a deceptive turn of pace, great footwork, and sublime passing skills that allowed Larkham to ghost through a defensive line and put his hard running centres and outside backs through the smallest of holes.

    Not known for his goal kicking or length off the boot, Larkham did famously pull off an amazing 48m drop goal to remove South Africa from the 1999 Semi Final in extra time. He’d never kicked a drop goal before at any level, had a bung knee, and poor eyesight so he could hardly see the posts at that range!

    A pretty calm and confident head on slight shoulders was Australia’s Stephen Larkham, and he forged a great partnership with his Brumbies teammate George Gregan during the Wallabies’ golden years.

    Despite not being a top tier place or drop kick exponent, Bernie was an exceptional short tactical kicker supported by a very good kicking back three who worked as a unit, all with very good game awareness and an ability to identify an opponent’s weakness or lack of positioning.

    Larkham was a reliable, but unremarkable, defender and was lucky enough to have several fantastic backrowers to handle some of the heavy forward traffic thrown into his channel. Larkham had a bad run of leg and arm injuries that eventually took their toll, a knee injury at the 2007 Rugby World Cup effectively ending his Test career.

    Jonny Wilkinson – England (1998-2011)

    That man who shattered Australian hearts in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in extra time with that infamous drop goal.

    Wilkinson made his debut as a replacement winger for England at only 18 in 1998 and was a superb, well-rounded flyhalf who epitomised professionalism and dedication to his craft.

    Wilko’s kicking game was his key strength, both out of hand and off the tee. It was the oil that kept the England machine ticking over and saw them dominate world rugby between Rugby World Cups until they were outkicked and outsmarted by Jake White’s Springboks and their lineout in the 2007 final.

    That World Cup sealed the decline of England’s previous dominance and also triggered the soul-searching in New Zealand that would lead to Henry’s reappointment and comprehensive rugby review. This ultimately led New Zealand on a path to the next two Rugby World Cup trophies.

    Jonny was also a superb defender and a very rare breed of flyhalf who could generate pressure from his aggressive tackling – Butch James was another one, but not quite in Wilko’s all-around class.

    Wilkinson was a fearless defender and extremely tough too when on the receiving end of a hit. I watched him almost get cut in half by the Samoan hitman Brian Lima, ‘The Chiropractor’, in a 2003 pool game, but Jonny shrugged it off and got stuck back in to steer England to a good victory in what could easily have been a banana skin game against a fired up Samoan team.

    Wilko’s calmness under pressure and ability to ensure England played in the right areas of the field through astute kicking took a lot of pressure off his running and passing game, which were not exceptional but still of a high quality.

    Wilkinson had a horrible run of injuries from 2003-2008, missing a huge amount of rugby, but still holds the record for highest number of points in the Six Nations and managed to accumulate the highest number of Test points by an individual during the twilight of his career, a record he took off Neil Jenkins.

    It was a title also he eventually lost to Dan Carter in 2011.

    Dan Carter – All Blacks (2003-2015)

    Carter debuted off the bench for the All Blacks at 21 years of age in 2003, but was caught behind Carlos Spencer in the New Zealand flyhalf pecking order.

    It wasn’t until the 2004 Spring Tour that he became the first choice for the famed black No. 10 jersey, a position he had a mortgage on whenever physically fit until his retirement in 2015.

    Dan Carter was, in my opinion, the complete Test flyhalf package. A superb athlete, intelligent, calm, he possessed a deadly running and kicking game with an uncanny ability to identify space.

    He had the sniper-like accuracy of Wilkinson off the kicking tee and his drop-kicking control became instrumental in how the All Blacks reinvented rugby restarts.

    Carter could also run the ball like an outside back, his speed and footwork were surgical and he was a constant threat with ball in hand. Carter’s passing game is often underestimated but his long ball either side was just as effective as Larkham’s in his hay day.

    Defensively, Dan Carter was very solid, using his speed, core strength and footwork to good advantage. His tackle effectiveness throughout his very long career was close to on par with Wilkinson’s and, like Jonny in 2003, he had the defensive benefits of fast and physical backrowers on his team at both of his Rugby World Cups.

    Daniel Carter attempting a goal

    Dan Carter was a key cog in the All Blacks machine. (AFP/Marty Melville)

    He was unlucky to be injured in the Rugby World Cup 2011 before a pool game against Canada and missed the rest of the tournament, but rebounded strongly to be one of the All Blacks’ most influential players in the 2015 cup.

    He was named man of the match in the final against Australia that year and holds the record for most Test points by an individual – over 1500 and well clear of Wilkinson – averaging over 16 points per Test over his international career.

    Carter has never lost a Bledisloe Cup and was named International Rugby Board player of the year three times.

    An interesting fact is that, while at Christchurch Boys High School, Carter was the second choice flyhalf for the combined South Island Schools team, behind a certain Brendon McCullum!


    In my opinion, all three were incredible flyhalves, probably all peaking at the time their teams won a Rugby World Cup, and they were each the best in their position in the world.

    Larkham was eventually overthrown by Wilkinson, and in turn Carter took the mantle from Jonny Wilkinson. But for me, the lad from the South Island possesses all the strengths across the board, matching the best facets of Wilko’s and Bernie’s games while exceeding them in their lesser skills.

    He had the benefit of an exceptional All Blacks team for most of his career, but his individual contributions from a points perspective within that wonderful structure cannot be overlooked.

    Dan Carter and his ability to execute the entire range of flyhalf skills to a consistently excellent standard under enormous pressure make him a very hard guy for the All Blacks to replace and continue their dominance towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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    The Crowd Says (265)

    • February 16th 2018 @ 3:56am
      Armchair Sportsfan said | February 16th 2018 @ 3:56am | ! Report

      Carter hands down.

      That said, plenty of help from an AB pack who rarely got bested….

    • Roar Guru

      February 16th 2018 @ 5:36am
      Nobrain said | February 16th 2018 @ 5:36am | ! Report

      JW and DC imo, But the all around wining personality of JW makes him the best.

      • Roar Guru

        February 16th 2018 @ 6:50am
        Dutski said | February 16th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        Was that meant to be “winning” or “whining” personality?
        But seriously I would rate Carter before Wilkinson any day of the week. I wonder if not for his concussions whether Elton Flatley would have developed into the same class?

        • February 16th 2018 @ 7:09am
          taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

          Wilkinson certainly wasnt a whiner, one of the most level headed, grounded and unaffected by his success people Ive seen, in any sport, or endeavour. Huge respect for the bloke.

          • Roar Guru

            February 16th 2018 @ 7:15am
            Dutski said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

            Just having a little linguistic fun, taylorman. No slur intended.

          • February 16th 2018 @ 9:23am
            aussikiwi said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

            He is a buddhist, i believe.

        • February 16th 2018 @ 9:10am
          Markus said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          Flatley was 29 when he retired, and had been playing professional rugby for a decade by that point. I do not think we would have seen a significant jump in his game by that time.

          Very reliable player and great goal kicker (especially by Australian standards) but never at the level of these three as a flyhalf.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 8:51am
        P2R2 said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        really…and yet DC rang rings around him on the BIL 2003 tour….killed him in Wellington where Daniel slayed the Lions

    • February 16th 2018 @ 6:56am
      Chalo said | February 16th 2018 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      Larkham any day!

    • Roar Guru

      February 16th 2018 @ 7:30am
      Kia Kaha said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Thanks, Steiner.

      Interesting article sure to provoke objective discussion. 😉

      It’s Dan Carter for me but am a big fan of both Larkham and Wilkinson.

      Christchurch Boys High School is known by insiders as the place where tens become men.

      Andrew Merthens is my favourite 10 from this school but the current Highlanders coach played as a goal-kicking 10 there, so did Colin Slade, and so did Daniel Carter (he technically moved from Ellesmere College in Year 13).

      It even produced two fly halves for Japan in Kosei Ono and Shaun Webb.

      It’s a wonder Brodie Retallick didn’t end up as a 10!

      • February 16th 2018 @ 8:25am
        rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Watching Brodie play, sometimes he looks like a frustrated 10 trapped in lurch’s body.

      • Roar Guru

        February 16th 2018 @ 9:31am
        Wal said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        Include Aaron Mauger in the list of 10’s

        The full list of AB’s from CBHS is a who’s who of NZ rugby Both Henry and Hansen are ex students.

        • Roar Guru

          February 16th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Kia Kaha said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          You mean the current Highlanders coach, Wal? 😉

          • Roar Guru

            February 16th 2018 @ 10:16am
            Wal said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

            That and I’ll never forget putting a tackle on the current Tahs coach circa under 13’s.

            I think my tooth is still buried somewhere in Hagley park. Had tree truck legs @ 12 and I believe still holds the national under 18 shot put record.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 10:49am
        Steiner said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:49am | ! Report

        Hey Kia, thanks for that – some interesting info in there about CBHS mate and in the following comments.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 9:17pm
        Sylvester said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:17pm | ! Report

        Possibly Owen Franks had eyes on the 10 jumper too, but I think he was kept out by Slade…
        Interestingly, Ben Franks changed schools after being told he was too small to prop so they obviously don’t get it right all the time.

    • Roar Guru

      February 16th 2018 @ 7:37am
      PeterK said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      So many errors in this article.

      England were NOT dominant from 2003 to 2007.

      England dropped in performance radically after 2003 when their stars left after the rwc. They built and peaked for 2003.

      They were the best 2002-2003. 2001 probably england as well but Australia beat the lions in a series that year for the first time so hard to judge.

      Carter was a complete player however he was NOT as good at the strengths of the other 2.

      Wilkinson was a better tackler, better at drop goals, better at kicking in general.

      Larkham was a better passer, more creative, better at putting players into gaps and a better runner.

      IMO Larkham was the best 10 because he did not have a dominant pack to work behind, he was very effective when the forwards were not going forward and still instrumental in games that aust won despite the forwards being beaten.

      Carter was not effective if his forwards were not on top, mind you this was rare.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 7:47am
        Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:47am | ! Report

        I’m not 100 % sure I’d agre Larkham was a beter runner than Carter.

        Also, re Carter & his play behind a beaten pack. Watch the AB’s loss to Aus in 2008, might change your mind.

        • Roar Guru

          February 16th 2018 @ 8:09am
          PeterK said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          AB’s still lost. Aust with larkham often won despite the having a beaten pack thanks mainly to larkham being able to engineer wins.

          Besides the example is an exception Carter didn’t perform behind a beaten pack more often than not.

          In the running game I should have narrowed it down to hits small gaps to make breaks where there were none, Carter outside of this was as good a runner.

          • February 16th 2018 @ 8:14am
            riddler said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            woodward peaked england by a whisker and an intercept to the wc 2003..

            he should have left after that night in sydney..

            probably the first and only time i agree with peterk..2004 england was not the same team as that of the end of 2002, early 2003..

            • February 16th 2018 @ 9:05am
              taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

              True, they were hopeless, another case of getting lucky with a good number of good layers at the same time, rather than as a result of any depth.

          • February 16th 2018 @ 8:21am
            Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

            Stephen Larkham lost nearly 1/3 of his tests over his career and most of that wasn’t behind a beaten pack.

            Indeed, 2004-07 – which is the main period of his career when he would have consistently played behind a beaten pack, he only won 25% of his matches.

            • February 16th 2018 @ 8:29am
              rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

              Facts schmacts

              • February 16th 2018 @ 8:35am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

                Moar facts – of those 4 wins (from 16 tests) in the 04-07 period, 3 were against Scotland and 1 was against Italy.

                Question then – given how weak those sides were at the time, did Larkham actually win ANY games behind a beaten pack in that era?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:01am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

                But I don’t want to make it seem as if I’m dismissing Larkham’s abilities, he was a class player and an all time legend. I just suspect the narrative of him being a beacon behind a beaten pack is a bit overdone. He was good when his forwards were losing the battle, but not as consistently good as popular opinion makes him out to be.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:11am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                Larkham’s team only won 4 matches from 04-07?

                Am I reading that right?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:12am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                He only managed 16 tests in that period – he was pretty injury prone.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:16am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

                He played in the 07 victory over the All Blacks…

                What are you actually talking about?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:19am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

                My mistake, turns out he also beat SA. Like I said, not wanting to run him down.

                In fact, I must have screwed up my search as his record is NOTHING like what I posted. Facepalm. Carry on.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:24am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

                I think that your facts are a bit off here. He was pretty injury prone after 04, but he still played in the majority of the Wallabies’ Tests, and he was the most important player to our wins. I wouldn’t be surprised if we only won 4 of 16 over the period where he didn’t play, but I think we still won somewhere above 70% when he did play (not certain about that last figure, but when he did play we were still in the top 2-3 teams in the world, when he didn’t… we weren’t).

                I’m actually concerned Ireland might suffer a similar decline to Aus after 07 due to being so reliant on such a good flyhalf.

                For what it’s worth, Carter is the best. He may not have quite had Larkham’s running game, passing game or creativity in attack, nor quite had Wilko’s kicking or defence, but Carter had zero weaknesses and was world class at everything. Most importantly his poise and decision making were second to none.

                But George Smith was the best 7.

              • Roar Guru

                February 16th 2018 @ 9:30am
                Kia Kaha said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

                Michael Jones, Richie McCaw. Best like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Fionn. 😉

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:27am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

                Yeah, it looks like they won about 2/3 of his matches. Not quite 70% but close.

                As for that last line…not touching that bait!

              • February 16th 2018 @ 9:35am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

                Hahaha, yeah fair, guys.

              • Roar Guru

                February 16th 2018 @ 10:29am
                PeterK said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                rebel except they are far from facts more like false news

              • February 16th 2018 @ 10:31am
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

                You’re false news! Just indulging my inner Trump.

                Nah, my bad.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 10:51am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                This is the most civilised disagreement of all time on that Roar 🙂

              • February 16th 2018 @ 12:43pm
                rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                Peter, first fact is still correct, second claim was off as the record stayed about the same which is pretty close to Australia’s historical record.
                On the otherhand. you didn’t provide any evidence to back up your claims.
                Larkam was a great player and I enjoyed seeing ghost through the line, but I’m with Jerry as I don’t recall many of these matches where he single handedly won the match. Happy to be proven wrong.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:12pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                I think that essentially all of them after the Rod era were behind a beaten pack.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:29pm
                rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Really Fionn?
                Beaten in every match against Samoa, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Japan, France, Fiji, Romania, Spain, Pacific Islands.
                We’re getting a bit revisionist.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:45pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                Beaten in most losing matches against tier 1 nations, especially in the tri-nations.

                Our forward pack, and scrum especially, were just not up to the standard of most tier 1 nations.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:09pm
                rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

                Agree, scrummaging was downplayed a bit by Eddie as he preferred mobility around the field. But the record agianst Tier 1 nations after Rod is not that flash, so doesn’t really add weight to Larkham performing great despite the pack. He is not the reason for the losses just as he isn’t solely responsible for the wins, although he did contribute to both.
                He was however a very good and talented footballer. I just think the handicap of a poor pack is overstated.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:13pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                I’m not even sure if it would be possible to do a statistical analysis of the relative importance of each player to the Wallabies’ fortunes in the 04-07 period, and if it is I wouldn’t be good enough to do them, but I think I remember reading somewhere that our winning % went up hugely (in the realm of 30% higher) when Larkham played vs didn’t play.

                We also can’t forget how much Gregan’s service declined after about 03/04.

                From 04-07 the team was so poor. George Smith, Stirling Mortlock and especially Larkham carried the team.

                Anyway, impossible to quantify how good each of them was, or to what extent each pack matched up. Three all-time great players regardless.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 4:03pm
                rebel said | February 16th 2018 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

                Agree about three greats. When Larkham didn’t play the substitutes were Flatley, Rogers, Giteau and even Norton Knight. Larkham was definitely a better option, especially as you go through the list.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:24pm
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

                I had a look before, without Larkham the winning % went up by 10004%. Australia won 56 of 12 matches without him.

                Whoops, had my funky search filters on again – it was actually won 6, lost 7 so the % dropped by about 20 but it’s a small sample size of course.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:42pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                The winning % went up without Larkham playing?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:54pm
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                No, with him – by about 21%.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:56pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                Ah, okay. Thanks! Is there a way to easily find such things out? Like a website with such stats?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 3:05pm
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                Yep – http://stats.espnscrum.com/statsguru/rugby/stats/index.html

                You can search a player or team record and include loads of different modifiers under the advanced filters (caution, garbage in garbage out applies as my earlier posts show).

                Oh, but beware of their winning % stats, for some reason they decided to record a draw as half a win so a team that won 4, drew 1 and lost 5 would have a 45% record instead of a 40%.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 8:21pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                Thanks, Jerry, I appreciate it.

            • February 16th 2018 @ 11:25am
              Muzzo said | February 16th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              Yep Fionn, George Smith was the best, in Australian rugby, but not in world rugby. Richie, mostly, had the wood on him, as his three IRB awards show, & along with his success rate with the AB’s.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 11:55am
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                No he didn’t. Smith tended to get the better of Richie early on in their careers, then it changed as the Wallabies declined in quality and the All Blacks went on to become the greatest team of all time.

                Stunningly, Richie’s three IRB player of the year awards were when he was playing for the greatest team of all time. Imagine that?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 12:11pm
                Muzzo said | February 16th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                Hahaha That’s in your opinion, as try looking at their records against each other, plus how many IRB titles did George win?
                Richie played in AB teams, even before he became captain, & he was nurtured to become the legend he became.
                So IMO, your wrong. Cheers.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 12:22pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

                Again, stunningly, Richie got more accolades captaining the greatest team of all time…

                Nonu didn’t win world player of the year either, and Barrett won it last year. I guess Barrett must be 10x the player Nonu was…

                How can I possible argue against that sort of ‘logic’?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:22pm
                taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

                McCaw was nominated 7 times while he was squaring off with Smith between 2000 and 2010, winning three.

                Smith was nominated once in the same period…

                …come on Fionn, another twisting of the truth. Trump been in touch yet?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:45pm
                Jeff said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                Smith was by far the more skillful player but he lacked the physicality of McCaw and Burger. I would pick Smith over Richie at Super level as the game is a bit loser, but at Test level Richie had the wood over Smith 90% of the time due to his higher work rate and physicality.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 1:47pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                And Nonu was only nominated once, and Barrett won it last year despite even most NZ people suggesting that he didn’t deserve it.

                I also think Dusautoir winning in 2011 was incorrect as a result of a few great performances.

                Clearly the process isn’t perfect.

                McCaw had more of a physical presence, but I don’t think his work-rate was necessarily higher. Both had extremely good work rates.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:23pm
                Muzzo said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                The Greatest team of all time???? I do think that many that know, that is a little bit of an insult to the “Invincible’s”. or those that know of them!
                Like to compare teams from different era’s to now, is not a good call, due to rule changes, the way the game is now played, etc, etc,
                Along with that, whose arguing, I’m only expressing my opinion, to which we are all entitled too.

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:51pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

                ‘Yep Fionn, George Smith was the best, in Australian rugby, but not in world rugby. Richie, mostly, had the wood on him, as his three IRB awards show, & along with his success rate with the AB’s.’

                That’s not an opinion, that’s attempting to state a fact.

                My point is that the history of the Player of the Year Award has been overly kind to some players and not kind enough to others. In itself, it is not evidence of anything. Rather like winning ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars does not mean a film was necessarily the best of the year.

                Anyway, my point was purposefully inflammatory as I know how Kiwis get when told that McCaw wasn’t the best 😛

              • February 16th 2018 @ 2:56pm
                Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                Apparently Harvey Weinstein was largely responsible for McCaw winning Player of the Year in 2009 after FDP rebuffed his advances.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 16th 2018 @ 5:13pm
                piru said | February 16th 2018 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

                Anyway, my point was purposefully inflammatory as I know how Kiwis get when told that McCaw wasn’t the best

                I pictured you throwing a hand grenade over the fence and grinning

              • February 16th 2018 @ 5:15pm
                Muzzo said | February 16th 2018 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

                As I said, I was only expressing my opinion!! Surely that’s allowed?

              • February 16th 2018 @ 7:13pm
                sheek said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report


                Expressing opinions on an opinion blog site is not allowed, especially if TWAS is around.

                You must support every opinion with voluminous facts & figures to support your case.

                Now you’ve been told, get yer facts straight!

              • February 16th 2018 @ 8:20pm
                Fionn said | February 16th 2018 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

                I’m beg your pardon, Muzzo, I didn’t intend to offend. Please accept my sincere apologies. I am sorry.

              • February 17th 2018 @ 10:26am
                Muzzo said | February 17th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                Hahaha sheek, I was wondering where I went wrong, & thanks for the advice. lol. Cheers

              • February 17th 2018 @ 10:29am
                Muzzo said | February 17th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                No apology required Fionn, as we are only here, to have an opinion, whoops sorry, a view. lol. Also having a little chuckle does help. Cheers.

          • February 16th 2018 @ 9:06am
            taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

            Did Larkham not play well when he lost then?

      • February 16th 2018 @ 7:58am
        smoothy said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        I was going to point to the world rugby ranking page in regard to England’s performance as well.
        From 2004, there’s really only one team that has dominated – a blackout on that No.1 ranking, with brief stints from SA!

      • February 16th 2018 @ 9:02am
        taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Unfortunately, probably not many outside NZ, OZ would agree with you. Good effort though.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 9:02am
        BBA said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Think you are being tough on the Australian pack in that 1998 to 2001 period they might not have been the best pack but they were very good and Larkham was not playing behind a beaten pack.

        You had some great locks and great loose forwards during that period. Although the pack has deteriorated by 2007.

        With the first fives while they are all great I think Larkham and Wilkinson were at the different ends (Wilkinson being a great tactical kicker and defensive player, versus Larkham being a great runner and passer). Carter was in between and therefore as you said the most complete. Who ever you are likely to like best probably reflects on what you value most in the position.

        • Roar Guru

          February 16th 2018 @ 9:53am
          Wal said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          A list of names like
          George Smith
          Totai Kefu,
          Dan Vickerman
          Mat Cockbain
          Justin Harrison
          Owen Finegan
          John Eales
          Patricio Noriega
          David Wilson
          Jeremy Paul

          Is not a list of substandard forwards for Larkham to be working off.
          In fact, during the late 90’s early 2000’s NZ had the better back line with the weaker pack than Aussie.

          • February 16th 2018 @ 12:57pm
            ads2600 said | February 16th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Agree with both of you. Those Aussie forwards you mention were bloody brilliant, & gave us Kiwis headaches every time we played.

          • February 17th 2018 @ 7:15am
            soapit said | February 17th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

            i see spme pretty good backrowers and only one or two top tight 5, leaves a lot of gaps (mind you you left out a couple of good shouts)

      • February 16th 2018 @ 9:34am
        Ed said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        It is interesting how people equate us holding the Bledisloe between 1998 and 2002 as to being the dominant side.
        South Africa were the best side in 1998 – they won the Tri-Nations by beating both us and NZ home and away.

        We, the Wallabies were the best side from winning the world cup in 1999 to our successful defence of the Tri-Nations in 2001 (despite not beating South Africa in that year’s comp). By the 2001 end of year tour we had slipped in losing to England and France. We lost all five tests to England between 2000 and 2003.

        England were the best team from 2001 to when they won the 2003 world cup. They then were the worst defending WC holders in winning 44.7 percent of their matches between 2004 to their loss in the 2007 WC final.
        The winning records of other WC holders during the professional era:
        RSA 1996-99: won 68.6% of tests
        AUS 2000-2003: 64.4%
        RSA 2008-2011: 62.5%
        NZL 2012-2015: 90.7%
        NZL 2016- : 85.7%

        • Roar Guru

          February 16th 2018 @ 11:33am
          Wal said | February 16th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Based on the current IRB ranking method, they would have had an unbroken run at #1 from End of 99 to mid 2002

          • February 16th 2018 @ 2:29pm
            Ed said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

            Thanks Wal.
            You would think there could be a flaw in the IRB system when Australia would have remained ranked higher than England at the end of 2001 when England had a 85 percent success rate in 2000-1, including winning both tests against Australia, while the Wallabies had a 67 percent success rate during that period.

            • February 16th 2018 @ 4:16pm
              Jerry said | February 16th 2018 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

              The rankings system relies on a system where teams can only take points away from a win if the opposition is within a certain margin of points – ie, wins against much lower ranked teams don’t give any rankings points. England won 10 matches that season but 4 of them were against Canada, the USA and Romania which wouldn’t have garnered any rankings points. I suspect the win against Italy in London (home wins count for less) may not have either.

      • Roar Guru

        February 16th 2018 @ 9:46am
        Wal said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        England 2004-2007 weren’t just not the dominant team they were atrocious.

        They registered 12 Wins from 30 matches
        When 3 wins came against Italy 1 against Canada and 1 against Samoa only 7 wins were against tier 1 competition

        • February 16th 2018 @ 10:09am
          taylorman said | February 16th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          Yeah its about then they started looking south…

          • February 17th 2018 @ 7:40pm
            FunBus said | February 17th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

            Are you obsessed with this North-South thing because of the upsurge in players NZ is starting to poach from the islands, T-Man? They’re from the ‘South’, so they’re all ‘Kiwis’ I suppose.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 1:35pm
        Steiner said | February 16th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        Fair cop PeterK! I may have over-egged the period of England’s dominance a bit! But it fitted in so neatly with my timeline between World Cups…obviously that period was more contested and I said it was a stat free article.

        Interesting to see the stats in the threads though, during the various periods.

        • February 17th 2018 @ 12:33am
          Ruaridh said | February 17th 2018 @ 12:33am | ! Report

          The interesting thing about England’s decline post 2003 was that they were probably at rock bottom in the 2007 RWC. Lost to SA (something like) 36-0 in the group stages but despite crap form, only two world class players in Sheridan and Robinson (Wilkins wasn’t offering much then) they scraped through to the Qs and through sheer grit they got to the final. That defeat of Aus in the QF was a huge middle finger to the press and John O’Neill / the ARU

      • February 17th 2018 @ 4:19pm
        Wobblies said | February 17th 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

        Australia wasn’t dominate 1998-2002… they won a lot of very tight games and managed to lose regularly to All Blacks and South Africa. Put simply if a NZ side had the same record over they time they wouldn’t have been thought of well. 1999 W/C carried way too much weight for this side, and the fact that the Wobblies have never really had long term success. But Bernie was a fine player and should be remembered up there with the greats.

      • February 17th 2018 @ 6:43pm
        FunBus said | February 17th 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

        Agree, England were dominant between 2000-2003 when the side then broke-up and the absence of any worthwhile development programme became obvious.
        The Aussies may have beaten the Lions in 2001 (although I think the Lions were the better team – it wasn’t a happy tour), but England’s run of consecutive wins against the WBs began in 2000.
        For me, Carter was the best, but not by much, followed by Wilkinson before all his injuries.

    • February 16th 2018 @ 7:59am
      MH said | February 16th 2018 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      If you’re judging on the complete package then its Carter, then JW and then well back Larkham … some will try and argue that JW and Larkham were better at different aspects – tackling, running .. but Carter had every aspect covered at a high level – Larkham may have been a better runner but he wasnt in the same sphere when comes to kicking or running a game JW defence was expectional – but he was as good a passer or runner . .. Carter covered off everything to a exceptional standard

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