England and British & Irish Lions great Jonny Wilkinson has revealed the World Cup-winning Springboks he ranks among the sport’s best ever.
Wilkinson, who earned 97 Test caps (91 for England and six for the Lions) and scored 1, 246 points in his 14-year international career, listed his all-time top 10 players for Ruck.co.uk.
He named multiple fellow World Cup winners and former World Player of the Year winners, including three Wallabies and three All Blacks – but, surprisingly, no Englishmen.
A 2007 World Cup-hero and Bok enforcer Bakkies Botha just cracks the nod in 10th, while inspirational former skipper Francois Pienaar is ninth.
Commenting on Botha’s inclusion, Wilkinson said: “Someone incredibly fierce but very, very down to earth and at times he’s exactly what a team needs.”
Pienaar led the Boks to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup – the first major tournament held in post-apartheid South Africa – and was praised by late president Nelson Mandela for his leadership in helping to unite the country behind the men in green and gold.
Wilkinson added: “Approaching a World Cup in our own country, I think people can understand the pressure on the home team and to think about the pressure on the home captain – think about what this guy must have been going through in South Africa at that time.
“To see how he dealt with it, I think is a lesson to all of us.”
Wilkinson’s top 10:
10. Bakkies Botha (South Africa)
9. Francois Pienaar (South Africa)
8. Michael Lynagh (Australia)
7. John Eales (Australia)
6. Tim Horan (Australia)
5. Christophe Dominic (France)
4. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)
3. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
2. Dan Carter (New Zealand)
1. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
Photo: Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images