Nigel Owens would pick former England captain Phil Vickery in his dream team of players he refereed — but there is no place for Martin Johnson or Jonny Wilkinson.
1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales), 2. John Smit (South Africa), 3. Phil Vickery (England)
Jenkins: “He rarely smiles but has been a terrific player at loose-head prop. When I’ve penalised him and he’s smiled, I know I’d got the decision right!”
Smit: “He led the Springboks to success at the 2007 World Cup in France and against the 2009 Lions and is probably one of the greatest captains I have dealt with.”
Vickery: “I always had a lot of time for him, found him a decent man, a good player to referee. He wasn’t one of those who would whinge at decisions, he would accept the call and get on with it.”
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 5 Paul O’Connell (Ireland)
Jones: “A man of few words, he does his talking on the field with his actions. Not only is he a brilliant player and a very good captain but I don’t think I have reffed a match where he hasn’t given absolutely everything.”
O’Connell: “Quite simply he was just an exceptional leader. I have been in charge of games where he pretty much carried his team, whether it was Munster or Ireland, almost on his back and onto victory.”