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There are countless players who have made a lasting impression on Sir Ian McGeechan, such is the former British and Irish Lions coach's experience and esteem within the game. But which 15 men are the cream of the crop, the absolute best from his travails as both a player and a coach?
In the first part of the series,?Telegraph Sport?unveils the two wings and full-back that Sir Ian regards as a class apart from the rest. Did he get it right? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
On Tuesday, the spotlight turns to the centres.
女大学生的沙龙:Full-back -?JPR Williams
Not a staggeringly original choice, I’ll admit. But to my mind the only one.
If I’m going to be picking a dream XV over the next few days then I want JPR at the back. No question.
He was the original; the template on which other full backs have been built. And listen, I’ve played with and coached some of the greats, from Andy Irvine and Serge Blanco and Gavin Hastings to Christian Cullen and Percy Montgomery.
In the modern era I’ve admired players such as Rob Kearney, Mike Brown, Stuart Hogg, Ben Smith, Liam Williams, Willie le Roux and Israel Dagg. All of them have their individual strengths and weaknesses.
I’m not just saying this, but?JPR had no weaknesses. Perhaps his speed over the ground was average, but he made up for this by his early reading of developing situations in the game. He really was the complete 15 and arguably the best defensive full back of all time.
He was exceptionally powerful and brave, whether it was taking short balls from Gareth Edwards or flying into tackles. That famous last-ditch shoulder-barge to stop France wing Jean-Fran?ois Gourdon scoring in the corner at Cardiff Arms Park may not have been strictly legal by today’s standards. But it summed up JPR’s attitude.
His impact on any game in which he was playing was immense. And he was incredibly charismatic to boot. JPR was not the loudest but when he did speak it generally meant something. People listened. He was a bit like Martin Johnson in that respect. I held him in such high regard.
If I can permit myself one self-indulgence, I’ll never forget JPR coming up to myself and Dick Milliken after the second Test in Pretoria on the 1974 Lions tour. “I really enjoy playing with you two,” he said. “Because I know nothing’s coming through.”
To him it was probably a throwaway line. But I can tell you, we both walked away about two feet taller! We still bring it up today when we see each other.
女大学生的沙龙:Right Wing -?John Kirwan
It’s been an interesting experience trying to pick my best ever 'right' wing. Picking your top two wingers, for instance, is actually a very different exercise from picking your best right wing and your best left wing.
When you think about it, most of the top finishers in the game have been left wings - JJ Williams, David Campese, Jonah Lomu, Jason Robinson et al. There are various reasons for that.
Most players are right-handed, so the ball travels more easily from right to left. Therefore, it makes most sense to put your top finisher on that flank. Conversely, when the ball travels left to right, it goes to the fly half’s right boot and is therefore - arguably - kicked more often.
Of course, these days players are more adept at passing off both hands (and kicking off both feet) so it makes less of a difference. But historically, I think, teams probably played their best finisher on the left wing and put their top footballers on the right; for their ability to read the game, find the edges, clear up danger, as well as for their finishing ability. I think that still holds true. Think of Jonny May on the left and Elliot Daly on the right.
So, when I think back to my top right wingers, I think of footballers and finishers. There was Andy Irvine, a full-back who played on the wing, Gerald Davies, who could also play centre, and Bryan Habana, who was one of the ultimate finishers but whose reading of the game was also outstanding.
I have settled on a man who made a huge impact on the world game. Like JPR Williams?at full-back, John Kirwan was like a prototype for what came after him. He was big and strong as well as being incredibly fast. He was a lethal finisher, too. That 80m try against Italy in the first World Cup in 1987 has gone down in history.
But he had an all round game; he could carry the ball through heavy traffic, he could offload, he was like an extra back-rower at times. Plus, he had natural effortless pace. He ended up scoring 35 tries for the All Blacks and was instrumental as they went through their unbeaten spell of games between 1987 and 1990.
What a player. And what an example. He paved the way for players like Jonah Lomu who would have been making his way through school and the 7s circuit when Kirwan was in his pomp.
女大学生的沙龙:Left wing - Jonah Lomu
I very nearly went with Jason Robinson here. I loved Robinson as a player.
He was ex-rugby league. He had dancing feet and a low centre of gravity. He invariably beat his first man and possessed an incredible burst of acceleration.
His famous try in the corner for the British and Lions in Australia in 2001, and again for England in the World Cup final in the same country two years later, are part of rugby folklore.
Nor was it just his finishing. Robinson started great team moves as well as finished them, with his ability to break the gain-line and cause mayhem.
But in the end I’ve gone for Lomu purely because his impact on rugby was so immense.
Left wingers are the game’s lethal finishers. As I’ve said before, with most players being right-handed the ball tends to travel more easily from right to left.
Therefore it makes most sense to put your top finisher on that flank - Commonwealth Games sprinters such as JJ Williams, or the hitch-kicking David Campese, who to be honest could turn up anywhere and could kick brilliantly as well.
Jonny May of England has been turning in world-class performances for a few seasons now on the left flank.
Lomu was unique, though. He was the first giant winger in rugby. Nowadays you have players like Nemani Nadolo and Joe Cokanasiga. But when Lomu arrived on the scene he broke the mould.
He was built like a train, and could run like one. But he could also really play rugby. Lomu’s skills were honed on the sevens circuit with New Zealand.
I remember watching him at the Hong Kong Sevens and being absolutely blown away, not only by his size and pace but his footballing ability.
Illness and injury ultimately slowed him down. But his performances at the 1995 World Cup, just as the game was turning professional, will never be forgotten.
The game needed a superstar, and it got one in Lomu. He was brilliant for rugby.