England captain Owen Farrell has included a Springbok on the list of the five toughest opponents he has faced throughout his career.
The 30-year-old Farrell reached a big career milestone when he earned his 100th Test cap in England’s match against the Wallabies at Twickenham in November.
Six of his Tests were for the British & Irish Lions (one in 2013 against Australia, three in 2017 against New Zealand and two in 2021 against the Springboks) and 94 for England.
Farrell recently listed the five toughest players he has come up against and named just two players from the southern hemisphere: All Black Beauden Barrett and former Springbok Schalk Burger, as published by Ruck.co.uk.
Burger and Farrell were teammates at Saracens during the South African’s four-year stint at the English club from 2016 to 2019.
Farrell’s top-five toughest opponents:
1. Jonny Wilkinson (England)
“It would have to be Jonny [Wilkinson], simple as that. The consistency he showed throughout his career was incredible, he set a new standard for flyhalves all over the world. Dan Carter is another one who has been incredible over a long period, but I’d have to stick with Jonny as my toughest opponent.”
2. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
“Hoggy is a utility player who has a creative X factor about him. He’s almost impossible to defend against and is one of my toughest opponents I’ve faced for sure.”
3. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
“He’s a world-class player. World [Rugby] player of the year twice in a row, there are not many people who have done that. He’s classy, a brilliant athlete and those are the kind of people you want to play against. You look forward to coming up against them.”
4. Schalk Burger (South Africa)
“You play against some unbelievably physical players, but I’ve never seen anyone be able put their body on the line like he does time and time again. He just keeps going all day.”
5. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
“Johnny is a fantastic player and even though I had respect for him before the Lions, I have even more now. I enjoyed being around him, seeing what players bring to the job day in, day out, the detail they go into. Johnny demands stuff of people, demands that they know their jobs and get it right. He’s always a really tough opponent.”