Ireland great Paul O’Connell has singled out a pair of Springbok icons among the most challenging opponents he faced during an illustrious career.
Selecting his five-man list for Ruck.co.uk of those who really stuck it to him on the field, O’Connell rated iconic Bok lock Victor Matfield as the standout, followed by legendary SA enforcer Bakkies Botha, Kiwi Jerry Collins and Englishmen Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson.
Matfield and Botha started in a whopping 63 Tests together, won a litany of historic titles together at Bok and Vodacom Bulls level, while becoming renowned as one of the most formidable combinations to ever bestride a rugby field.
O’Connell said: “I tried not to fear any opponent, but any international second row will tell you that Matfield had the ability to destroy your lineout. He’s the best lineout operator I played against. He very rarely made any mistakes.”