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A XV Made Up Of World Rugby’s Greatest Utility Players

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 19: Jack Nowell of England looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between France and England at the Stade de France on March 19, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

These are the guys every team needs. Multi-talented, they are able to cover more than one position – the perfect remedy when an injury crises hits.

Here’s our XV composed of players of who have made their mark in more than one position.


15. Israel Folau

The 27-year-old Wallaby has racked up an outstanding 18 tries in 38 test appearances. After starting out on the wing, the 6ft 5in powerhouse was moved to 15, where he has continued to impress. Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has used him at outside centre this season where he’s been outstanding thus far.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14:  Israel Folau of the Waratahs looks for support after making a break during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Bulls at Allianz Stadium on May 14, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)


14. Liam Williams

One of Wales’ most dangerous attacking weapons, Williams can slot in at wing as well as his favoured full back position. Blessed with real pace, elusive, an excellent footballing brain and an ability to make things happen, the former scaffolder is one of Europe’s best 15s.


13. James Hook

Hook is versatility personified. The 30-year-old Wales and Gloucester fly half has played in four positions for his country. His creativity, big boot, excellent distribution skills and clever rugby brain have seen him turn out at inside centre, full back and outside centre for Wales as well as at his regular position of outside half.

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 08:  Wales player James Hook in action during the Rugby World Cup warm up match between Wales and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on August 8, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)


12. Sonny Bill Williams

A two-time World Cup winner, the All Black is one of the biggest names in world rugby. Williams is a world-class inside centre, but he is also highly effective on the wing. This versatility was shown during the 2011 World Cup when he scored two tries from the wing during the pool stages after having not played there very much before.


11. Jack Nowell

The pacy 23-year-old Cornishman is a powerful and dangerous runner. With a nose for the try line, the former England U-20 star has scored an impressive eight tries in 15 appearances for the Red Rose.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  Jack Nowell of Exeter looks on during the Aviva Premiership match between Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm on April 15, 2016 in Gloucester, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nowell excelled at 15 in the Chiefs academy before being moved to the wing for his pro debut under first team coach Rob Baxter, where he has since flourished. A skilful footballer, Nowell has also starred at 13 for the Devon-based club.


10. Matt Giteau

The Toulon playmaker is one of the most gifted players in the world, equally adept at outside half or inside centre. Giteau has appeared in two World Cup finals and amassed 102 caps for Australia.

He started his career at scrum half before moving to fly half and then onto inside centre, and has played most of his international rugby at 12.


9. Ruan Pienaar

The 88 times capped Springbok boasts a hugely impressive CV. A 2007 World Cup winner, a 2009 Tri-Nations title and a 2009 series win over the British and Irish Lions.

Primarily a scrum half, the 32-year-old Ulster star is also a highly accomplished fly half and a decent full back who has represented the Boks in both positions.


8. Mamuka Gorgodze

Nicknamed ”Gorgodzilla” by his former teammates at Montpellier due to his hulking 6ft 5in and 18st, 8lb frame and bulldozing style of play, the Georgian flanker is one of the biggest ball carriers in the Top 14.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Georgia captain Mamuka Gorgodze is tackled by the Tonga defence during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Tonga and Georgia at Kingsholm Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Gloucester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)

After spending the early part of his career at lock, former club Montpellier converted him to the backrow where he has excelled since.


7. David Pocock

Arguably the World’s best openside, the Zimbabwe-born Brumbies star is a class act. Alongside compatriot Michael Hooper, Pocock is the turnover king of world rugby.

But as well as excelling at 7, Pocock has proved to be a more than useful No 8. The ‘Pooper’ axis of himself at 8 and Michael Hooper at 7 inspired Australia to the 2015 Rugby Championship title and to a World Cup final, where they lost to the All Blacks.


6. Francois Louw

The abrasive Bath flanker is one of the best in his position in the world. He’s a fearsome defender, destructive at the breakdown, and skilful in attack. At 17st, 13lb Louw can also fill in extremley well at 6, due to his huge physicality.

BATH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Francois Louw runs with the ball during the Bath training session held at Farleigh House on November 17, 2015 in Bath, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)


5. Maro Itoje

One of world rugby’s breakthrough stars, the 21-year-old Saracens and England lock has had a year to remember. With his athleticism and power, Itoje is also an accomplished blind side flanker, who has starred on the flank many times for Saracens.


4. Iain Henderson

One of Ireland’s best players in last year’s disappointing World Cup campaign, the 24-year-old Ulsterman is a key asset for both club and country.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Iain Henderson of Ireland makes a break during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between Ireland and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

A quality lineout jumper and a big ball carrier with a huge engine, 23 times capped Henderson is the archetypal modern day lock. Although he stars in the second row for Ireland, Henderson packs down at six for his province, Ulster, and does an excellent job.


3. Kieran Brookes

Tipping the scales at a whopping 19st, 7lbs, the Northampton and England tighthead is immensely strong and powerful. With his strength and technique Brookes is also comfortable at loosehead and has appeared there at various times in his career.


2. Schalk Brits

One of the quickest and most dynamic hookers in rugby, the Saracens and South Africa star is an outstanding player. The former Stormers No 2 plays like an extra back row forward with his deft handling skills, excellent support play and explosive runs.

READING, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Schalk Brits of Saracens breaks with the ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup semi final match between Saracens and Wasps at Madejski Stadium on April 23, 2016 in Reading, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It’s not surprising when one considers that the ten times capped Springbok has appeared at seven during his career, including for the Stormers in the Super Rugby semi-final defeat to the Crusaders in 2011.


1. Paul James

Since his debut against Romania in 2003, the vastly experienced Ospreys loosehead has made 66 appearances for Wales. The former Bath prop has also appeared at tighthead for Wales on more than one occasion, including against New Zealand in 2009 and South Africa in 2013, doing a decent job for his country.


Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena


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Author: The PA Team

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