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'Bloody handy!'- Nine All Blacks and six Springboks in The Roar's World Cup final combined XV

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27th October, 2023
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So it comes to this – rugby’s greatest rivals facing off to see which of them will become the first nation to win the World Cup for a fourth time.

The coaches have named their teams for the clash on Saturday night (Sunday morning 6am AEDT) at Stade de France and The Roar’s experts have held their own virtual selection meeting to come up with a combined XV from the finalists squads.

Of course international rugby is a 23-player game, but for this exercise we limited selections to a starting XV only. The resulting team (see it at the bottom of the page) featured nine All Blacks and six Springboks.

The final team is based on the votes of The Roar’s rugby editor Christy Doran and editor Tony Harper – who have been in France every step of the way this World Cup – plus experts Brett McKay, Harry Jones and Geoff Parkes.

The Roar will have four representatives at the final on Saturday – an incredible turnout – especially considering the Wallabies are long departed.

Let us know your choices in the comments below.

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Christy Doran’s team: Ox Nche, Codie Taylor, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Sam Whitelock, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Ardie Savea, Duane Vermeulen, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Will Jordan, Beauden Barrett.

Christy says: Sam Whitelock is the most consistent player in World Rugby over the past decade and, as such, I’ve selected him ahead of Brodie Retallick. But the bruising nature and big-game ability of Eben Etzebeth sees him join Whitelock in the second row.

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa enjoys victory at the end of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa enjoys victory at the end of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

In the back-row, I’ve switched Ardie Savea to openside flanker to accommodate Duane Vermeulen – one of the most physical and skillful players of the past decade. His bruising strength and prowess in the air has made him a colossal figure. Aaron Smith’s accuracy of pass and consistency has seen him picked ahead of Faf de Klerk. The pace and all-round threat of Beauden Barrett (we can’t forget he’s a two-time World Rugby player of the year) has him just ahead of Willie le Roux.

Brett McKay’s team: Ox Nche, Codie Taylor, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Sam Whitelock, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Jordie Barrett, Jesse Kriel, Will Jordan, Beauden Barrett.

Brett says: Toughest choice? Leaving Brodie Retallick out, but it was just too hard to deny the impact on games that Sam Whitelock has had. Experience is actually pretty bloody handy, it turns out. Even forgetting all the records Whitelock has set this tournament, his uncanny ability to know when to pick his moments in defence has been literally match-winning in these past few weeks. He’s just been phenomenal and leaving him out would make even less sense than leaving Retallick out.

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Harry Jones’ team: Ox Nche, Codie Taylor, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Brodie Retallick, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Will Jordan, Beauden Barrett.

Harry says: Fullback was difficult because Damian Willemse has had a lovely tournament but his semi-final counts against him. Cheslin Kolbe charges down Mark Telea because the Bok flier was on time and the All Black was late. Bongi Mbonambi was in pole position until his semi-wobbles.

Geoff Parkes’ team: Ox Nche, Codie Taylor, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Sam Whitelock, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Jordie Barrett, Jesse Kriel, Will Jordan, Beauden Barrett.

Geoff says: I started off expecting this to be a difficult exercise, but it proved far easier in practice. The only position I struggled with was loose head prop, with Steven Kitshoff coming under serious consideration. At the end of the day, Ox Nche’s superb, match-winning shift against England, and a bit of anti-ginger discrimination tipped the scales against him. Pretty fair side, worth backing for a dollar or two if you can find decent odds.

Aaron Smith of the New Zealand All Blacks passes the ball during the Summer International match between New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on August 25, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Aaron Smith of the New Zealand All Blacks passes the ball during the Summer International match between New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on August 25, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Tony Harper’s team: Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Scott Barrett, Siya Kolisi, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Faf de Klerk, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie.

I’ll let the rugby experts above be all experty and what have you, and admit my team is more about titillation than pure distinction. So it’s fabulous and feisty Faf over Aaron’s arrows, Siya for the speeches in victory or defeat, DMac for my favourite moment of the Cup – that sweet kick and chase assist against Uruguay that made me literally growl ‘phwoar ‘in the press box – Rieko for his edginess and Scott Barrett because he might do something incredibly dumb, or just incredible from one minute to the next – then blow a kiss to the camera.

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The Roar experts combined XV: Ox Nche, Codie Taylor, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Sam Whitelock, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Cheslin Kolbe, Jordie Barrett, Jesse Kriel, Will Jordan, Beauden Barrett.

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