A dyed-in-the-wool Western Province man, Stormers head coach John Dobson selects a team made up of the best he’s seen play the game.
15. Serge Blanco
I was too young to appreciate HO de Villiers who, by all accounts, revolutionised fullback play with his attacking style – the way he could hit a line I think changed the role of fullback to a large degree and for a long period they were the game’s most important ‘strikers’.
14. Niel Burger
Given my Western Province bias and impressionable younger years, I’m going with Burger. He probably wouldn’t make it today, in that he probably couldn’t high-line defend and there were no box kicks in his day, but those thighs … unstoppable.
13 Danie Gerber
Again he may have limitations in today’s game, especially in set piece attack and defence. But to be the world’s best when South Africa was isolated from international rugby is just remarkable. I will never forget the commentary of Bill McLaren when the southern hemisphere played the northern hemisphere in 1986, “Gerber to Du Plessis! Du Plessis to Gerber!”… marvellous!
12. Conrad Smith
The inside centre, with the quality of my outside backs, simply has to be a playmaker and I don’t think I’ve seen better than Smith. Other than Christian Stewart, because he’s my friend.
11. Jonah Lomu
The best attacking wing of all time. Between Jonah and Neil, defenders will certainly have to strap their shoulders. I was tempted to choose Carel du Plessis but I managed to resist my bias.
10. Dan Carter
Easy and obvious.
9. Fourie du Preez
In the old days coaches talked about the scrumhalf “getting the backs away”. It’s very different now in how the No 9 must drive the other 14 players forward and Fourie gets my vote because of what he did for his pack of forwards.
8. Kieran Read
A lot of this depends on which eras you played. If you look at Zinzan Brook and Buck Shelford, only 10 years apart and so different, but which would suit today’s rugby? The roles of the No 8 have ebbed and flowed in physicality versus playmaking. You couldn’t get more different than Mark Andrews in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final and his Springbok predecessor Dugald Macdonald in 1974. My best? Kieran Read.
7. Gert Smal
Gert gave me a job! That aside, I saw him score the greatest try I’ve ever seen while playing in Potchefstroom. He caught a ball pinned against the touchline in his own half with 15 opposition players in front of him and scored under the poles. Big. Fast. Aggressive.
6. Rob Louw
The bias continues! Rob changed the traditional role of an openside flanker with creative play. He was a forward who could link, and he stood for a lot of things. Rob was forerunner to Michael Jones, who I rate as the best loose forward of all time, but he didn’t break the mould and he didn’t play for Western Province.
5. Victor Matfield
Like Du Preez, Victor is picked for what he could do to a pack of forwards, in terms of their standards, and ability to go forward.
4. Bakkies Botha
Boring, I know, but what a combination!
3. Carl Hayman
The complete tighthead prop in build, technique and temperament. And skilled. He just pips Hempies du Toit for me!
2. Uli Schmidt
I know he was only 90kg but Uli took the ‘fourth loose forward’ role to a new dimension long before it was very fashionable. Incredibly skilled and overly aggressive. Sorry James.
1. Os du Randt