McCaw, Carter and Reid

The next in our series is from David Kirk. David first toured with the All Blacks in 1983 and went on to captain the side to the 1987 World Cup. He has been described as “urbane, articulate and thoughtful” and showed the strength of his character when he refused – on anti-apartheid grounds – to join the rebel “Cavaliers” team on their tour to South Africa. In his stellar career, David was the CEO of Fairfax Media and clearly that time wasn’t wasted as he has kindly penned the following article.

First, I have chosen players that I know. That is, I have seen them play or played with or against them. I simply do not feel qualified to judge players I have never seen play. Some of the players selected were heroes of my childhood and some came along well after I stopped playing but in every case I have seen them play multiple times and on the biggest stages under the most intense pressure.

Second, I have picked players who were dominant in their eras. I have resisted the temptation to try and compare players who played in different periods, under different rules and in different styles. Almost invariably the chosen players spanned eras – they all played for a long time at the top level – so they demonstrated their all-round capability, but to compare a second five-eighth such as Mike Gibson to Ma’a Nonu is not possible. Too much has changed.

Third I have chosen specialists, those that know the craft of their position, and coupled that with athleticism and ball-skills. Rugby is a running game and my team is full of runners, steppers, passers and try-scorers. There would be nothing wrong with this team’s defence and it would certainly be dominant in set pieces but if it gave away a few tries it wouldn’t matter – they would always score more that the opposition.

And finally I have chosen great people, smart people, as evidenced by the number of players who captained their country, club, province or state and who have gone on to do important work after leaving rugby. Courage, loyalty, humility and brains are the most important attributes for success in rugby, as in life, and this team has those qualities in abundance.

In summary…
Fullback – Serge Blanco (France)
Right wing – John Kirwan (New Zealand)
Left wing – David Campese (Australia) – pictured left
Centre – Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
2nd Five-eighths – Mike Gibson (Ireland)
1st Five-eighths – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
Halfback – Gareth Edwards (Wales)
No.8 – Kieran Reid (New Zealand)
Openside flanker – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
Blindside flanker – Ian Kirkpatrick (New Zealand)
Lock – John Eales (Australia)
Lock – Martin Johnson (England)
Tight-head prop – Graeme Price (Wales)
Loose-head prop – Robert Paparemborde (France)
Hooker – Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand)

National representation: New Zealand (6), Australia (2), France (2), Ireland (2), Wales (2), England (1)