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International Rugby – The Finishers XV

England rugby coach Eddie Jones has brought the term ‘finishers’ into common usage across the sport, with the idea being to change the paradigm around ‘replacements’ or ‘substitutes’ in the sport.

Indeed, many international players have had a huge impact off the bench and were not simply there picking up splinters.

We’ve put together a world XV of the players who either spent much of their early careers in the shadows of others before emerging into the spotlight, or ended up as ‘super subs’ and rarely started for their country.

It’s a pretty impressive team nonetheless.

Springboks prop Ollie le Roux is a legend in his own country and started 43 of his 54 caps as a replacement. He is joined in the front row by Kevin Mealamu, who although went on to earn 132 caps for the All Blacks, spent as much as a third of his career from the bench. Australian tighthead James Slipper has spent half of his time as Wallaby as a substitute, with 44 caps from 86 coming as a replacement.

Georgian lock Levan Datanashvili and Ireland stalwart Donncha O’Callaghan making up the second row.

Wales back rower Justin Tipuric has often failed to get in the starting team with both Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton fit, while New Zealand scrum-half Piri Weepu started a remarkable 46 games as a replacement.

Others in the team, such as Wales’ James Hook, England’s Mathew Tait and South Africa’s Pat Lambie have often suffered by being labelled as utility backs and have failed to nail down one particular spot in their nation’s test team, meaning they are seen as being more useful for the bench.

The Finishers XV

1) Ollie le Roux (43 games from the bench)
2) Kevin Mealamu (55 games from the bench)
3) James Slipper (44 games from the bench)
4) Levan Datunashvili (28 games from the bench)
5) Donncha O’Callaghan (28 games from the bench)
6) Phil Waugh (28 games from the bench)
7) Justin Tipuric (25 games from the bench)
8) Damien Chouly (14 games from the bench)
9) Piri Weepu (46 games from the bench)
10) Ronan O’Gara (43 games from the bench)
11) Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino (25 games from the bench)
12) James Hook (31 games from the bench)
13) Kurtley Beale (23 games from the bench)
14) Mathew Tait (19 games from the bench)
15) Pat Lambie (34 games from the bench)

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.