Former England and B&I Lions captain Martin Johnson has named his all-time greatest forwards pack, which includes only one Springbok and a few surprises.
1 – Jason Leonard
Johnson describes his former teammate as a “rock”. Leonard played in four Rugby World Cups and two finals and is widely held to be the greatest English front rower.
2 – Sean Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick played for the All Blacks for over a decade. Johnson credits him as being a fantastic competitor and a great captain.
3 – Jean-Pierre Garuet
The Frenchman may not be as well known as some of the other list names, but Johnson picks him because he hails from the “old school of scrummagers”. Garuet played in the first World Cup final in 1987.
4 – Frik du Preez
SA Rugby’s Player of the 20th Century, Johnson describes Du Preez as very quick and athletic. He humbly suggests he wasn’t in his league.
5 – Colin Meads
Another lock who played predominantly in the 60s, Johnson believes Meads to be “the greatest-ever All Black”. Like Du Preez, he was an athletic player.
6 – Richard Hill
Johnson is unequivocal about the influence Hill had when it mattered: “When he was with the Lions teams, if he didn’t play, we didn’t win.”
7 – Michael Jones
Beating Richie McCaw to the mantle of greatest No 7 in rugby, Johnson calls Jones a ‘mythic figure’.
8 – Buck Shelford
A supremely skilful back rower, Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford paved the way for players like Zinzan Brooke. Johnson remembers watching him score by chipping over the heads of defenders and recollecting the ball.