The talk of potential squads for the Lions to face the Boks next summer has intrigued me to the point where I’d like to see a fantasy team to rival the Lions made up of players from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
I’d like to hear your teams in the comments in what could be a lengthy and heated discussion.
1. Joe Moody
The Crusader edges out Steven Kitshoff for his all-round game. Moody’s subtle hands in play combined with competitive scrummaging are a vital asset.
2. Malcolm Marx
Both South African and Kiwi hookers are in contention, however Marx prevails in a close call as his setpiece has gradually improved, while his impetus at the breakdown makes him one of the best at the rucks.
3. Frans Malherbe
This strong scrummager helped dictate England’s beating in Japan. A battering ram in defence and attack, Malherbe completes a formidable front row.
4. Eben Etzebeth
85 Test caps and a warrior who marshals the Boks’ set pieces and is always at the heart of their devastating maul.
5. Brodie Retallick
While he hasn’t played in 2020, Retallick is simply too good to leave out. Sam Whitelock is still class, but Retallick has proven it at Test level.
6. Pieter-Steph du Toit
The 2019 World Rugby Player of the year, and deservedly so, is fantastic in defence and makes some colossal carries. Has flourished following his move to the back row.
7. Michael Hooper
Has been one of the best players in the world for a long time. Formed a formidable duo with David Pocock and has captained well, despite the Wallabies’ decline in the last few years. An athletic player who is an out-and-out fetcher, Hooper has one of the best tackle techniques in the game.
8. Ardie Savea
Edges Duane Vermeulen due to his age because, at 34, Vermeulen has had a fantastic career and proved himself to be the best no.8 in the world, but it’s time for Ardie to take over. He was one of New Zealand’s best players in 2019 and has an array of skills with explosive carrying and good energy in defence.
9. Faf de Klerk
This World Cup-winning giant-slayer takes his place at 9 over Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Nic White. De Klerk has the best kicking game by a country mile for a scrumhalf and only Smith and Perenara are more active and potent ball in hand.
10. Handre Pollard
Pollard had a stellar World Cup, with 22 points in the final, is a consistent goal kicker and with a 98kg frame is comfortable taking a crash ball and defending 10. He has been essential to Bok success as a smooth operator.
11. Marika Koroibete
I wanted a crash-ball winger and Koroibete edges it for his defence. Koroibete was Australia’s best player in 2019 and has electrifying pace combined with intimidating strength.
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
Lienert-Brown is a slick centre who has good pace, hands and a sound kicking game. Very underrated, ALB is a more than competent successor to the glue of Ryan Crotty.
13. Lukhanyo Am
The best defender in the world in open play is massively underrated and so smooth in attack – the Boks’ answer to Jack Goodhue as a centre with a solid defensive game, I have gone for his defensive security rather than crash-bash flair.
14. Cheslin Kolbe
I can’t talk about Kolbe without mentioning the try that broke my heart in November 2019, but what an insane player he is – best step in the world with ability to cover 10 and 15.
15. Beauden Barrett
BB was one of the best players in the world with match-winning performances at 10 but he has transitioned well enough into 15, perhaps his more natural position, given his struggles with both goal and tactical kicking. In open play he is simply world-class with ball in hand.
16. Codie Taylor
Dane Coles is hard done by, but Taylor has improved so much to become his country’s premier hooker.
17. James Slipper
Wild card here, but Slipper has returned to form for the Reds and has all the experience to warrant a place in the side.
18. Taniela Tupou
He may not have superior scrum ability but Tupou is an impact player who suits the finisher role.
19. RG Snyman
He may be injured, but like Tupou, he never fails to make an impact in collisions off the bench. He will be in pole to start against the Lions if he recovers from his injury.
20. Siya Kolisi
An inspirational leader like him is needed around the squad.
21. TJ Perenara
Not long before he claims the 9 All Black jersey, Perenara has a lovely all-round game with solid kicking and brilliant support lines.
22. Richie Mo’unga
One of the best 10s in the world, Mo’unga has been insane for the Crusaders. Accurate goal kicking and so, so good to watch in attack.
23. Jordie Barrett
JB’s versatility means he can cover centre, 10 and the back three alongside his brother.