England’s legendary World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson has selected his all-time second-row, and it’s very impressive.
Johnson won 84 England caps and quit Test rugby at the start of 2004, just two months after leading Sir Clive Woodward’s team to victory in Sydney.
He also had huge success as captain of Leicester, guiding the Tigers to back to back Heineken Cup victories and several Premiership titles.
However, when selecting his dream second-row, he’s looked to the players that he admired from long before the game turned professional.
“The 1990s was a great era for locks,” said Johnson, who was picking his all-time dream team.
“There were Robin Brooke and Ian Jones for New Zealand; Australia had John Eales; South Africa had Mark Andrews.
“I could have picked any of them but I’ve gone for some older players.
“Both Frik Du Preez and Colin Meads played in the 1960s but were very modern players. Meads was the greatest ever All Black; Frik was very quick and athletic. I wasn’t in their league.”
When the pair locked the scrum for a President’s Overseas XV against England in 1971 in a match to celebrate the centenary of the RFU, many thought they would never see a better pairing playing together.
Du Preez Test career ran from 1961 to 1971, and South Africa won a World Cup in 1995, so for him to be held in such esteem nearly 40 years after he had played his last International proves what affection the South African public have for the man
Meanwhile, Meads, who played 55 Tests within 133 games for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971. The legend died of pancreatic cancer, aged 81 in 2017.
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LIST | 5 times Martin Johnson proved he was rugby’s greatest captain
1. The moment of World Cup victory
Australia 17-20 England, 22 November 2003
Johnson, like all great players, delivered when the stakes were at their highest and arguably saved his best England game for last.
His performance in the World Cup final was exceptional – dominant in the line-out and brutally effective in the tight exchanges.
When England threatened to lose a game they should have won handsomely, he galvanised his troops for one final push.
Clear-headed enough to set up the winning position in the 100th minute, his leadership brought ultimate glory.