Sam Warburton has named two Irish players in the greatest 15 he ever played against during his international rugby career.
The former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain selected the best players he ever came up against in his autobiography the Open Side, leaving out a number of legendary All Blacks from his starting 15.
The likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter haven’t made the cut, although Warburton did include the World Cup-winning duo on the bench.
Llongyfarchiadau George 💯 pic.twitter.com/h1ujhV8Yx3
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) February 27, 2021
Sam Warburton XV.
Former Wallaby David Pocock has been named ahead of Richie McCaw while England’s Jonny Wilkinson was chosen at fly-half instead of Dan Carter.
Warburton reserved special praise for fellow open side flanker Pocock, describing him as the “hardest single player I ever faced”.
Pocock is one of three Australians selected, alongside scrum-half Will Genia and controversial full back Israel Folau, with Warburton explaining that Folau deserved to be there based on his performances alone.
The Welshman has named four Irish players in total in his match-day squad, with Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell making his starting team, while Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong have been named as replacements.
O’Connell has been chosen as captain of Warburton’s team.
Only players from five nationalities make the starting team – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and England – while Frenchman Guilhem Guirado and Scotland’s Stuart Hogg have been selected on the bench.
Check out the full team below.
15. Israel Folau (Australia)
14. Bryan Habana (South Africa)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
12. Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)
11. Julian Savea (New Zealand)
10. Jonny Wilkinson (England)
9. Will Genia (Australia)
1. Andrew Sheridan (England)
2. Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa)
3. Carl Hayman (New Zealand)
4. Paul O’Connell (Ireland) (c)
5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
6. Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)
7. David Pocock (Australia)
8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)
Replacements: 16. Guilhem Guirado (France), 17. Cian Healy (Ireland), 18. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 19. Maro Itoje (England), 20. Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 21. Aaron Smith (New Zealand), 22. Dan Carter (New Zealand), 23. Stuart Hogg (Scotland).