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Just The Stats: Australia’s Greatest XV

As we continue our look at the best players for each major rugby nation based entirely on statistics, we next come to Australia.

Australia’s Wallabies have struggled of late to be the dominant force they were during the 1990s and for much of the 2000s. When one thinks of great Australian players, many of them come from the Rugby World Cup winning sides of 1991 or 1999.

We’ve put together three teams based on statistics to persuade you that some of these names should go into your ‘all-time’ Australia XVs.

Winners XV

This is made up of the players with the most wins in Australian rugby history. Of course this side is dominated by players from the professional era, given that teams simply play more games than they once did in the amateur days – mostly for financial reasons.

The pack is pretty impressive, but the back division itself is jaw-dropping. Imagine seeing those guys lining up in the same team.

1) James Slipper (42)
2) Stephen Moore (61)
3) Ben Alexander (41)
4) Nathan Sharpe (70)
5) John Eales (66)
6) Matt Cockbain (46)
7) George Smith (65)
8) Rocky Elsom (43)

9) George Gregan (93)
10) Stephen Larkham (68)
11) David Campese (67)
12) Matt Giteau (59)
13) Jason Little (58)
14) Joe Roff (61)
15) Adam Ashley-Cooper (65)

Percentages XV (20+ Caps)

For this exercise we look at the players with the best winning percentages for their country. To remove any individuals who only played a handful of times for the Wallabies (and thus have a very high winning percentage), we’ve set a threshold of 20 caps in order for any individual to qualify.

What’s really interesting here is how different this team is to the first. Whilst these players haven’t won as many actual games as the other side, most of the players have won 3/4 of the tests they featured in.

1) Tony Daly (76%)
2) Phil Kearns (75%)
3) Ewen McKenzie (76%)
4) Mark Connors (80%)
5) John Eales (78%)
6) Willie Ofahengaue (74%)
7) David Wilson (77%)
8) David Lyons (73%)

9) Sam Cordingley (77%)
10) Michael Lynagh (71%)
11) Peter Grigg (72%)
12) Tim Horan (74%)
13) Jason Little (77%)
14) Damian Smith (71%)
15) Marty Roebuck (87%)

Try Scorers XV

Lastly, we come to the try scorers XV. Here we put together the players in each position with the highest number of tries scored in international rugby.

Bill Cerutti, who last played for the Wallabies in 1937, still holds the record for the most number of tries scored by an Australian tighthead.

However, it’s the back division again that is so fantastic here. With a startling 248 test tries between them there is some serious, serious firepower present.

1) James Slipper (4) / Tony Daly (4)
2) Jeremy Paul (14)
3) Bill Cerutti (3)
4) Nathan Sharpe (8)
5) James Horwill (6)
6) Rocky Elsom (14)
7) David Wilson (13)
8) Toutai Kefu (10)

9) George Gregan (18)
10) Stephen Larkham (25)
11) David Campese (64)
12) Matt Giteau (30)
13) Adam Ashley-Cooper (37)
14) Drew Mitchell (34)
15) Chris Latham (40)

So quite a few surprises here, but remember that statistics only tell part of the story. What it does tell you, however, is just how magnificent Australia’s backs have always been. Few people would argue with that.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.