Fly-half: Dan Carter (New Zealand)
Owens said: “There are lots of outside-halves who have been great, but not one who has done it over so many years like Carter.
“Before the 2015 World Cup, some people said he was past his best and wouldn’t make the New Zealand squad for the tournament.
“But for Carter to come back from injury and play as well as he did then is a sign of a special player.”
Scrum-half: Agustin Pichot (Argentina)
Owens said: “I used to love watching Dwayne Peel in his prime as a scrum-half for those few years between 2004-06 with Wales, the Lions and Llanelli. Talented, a great guy, he also has a house just up the road from me!
“But I’ve just plumped for Pichot who was a great player for the Pumas and also a great ambassador for the game of rugby in general.
“Pichot and Felipe Contepomi were the ones who helped transform Argentina into one of the greatest sides in the world. He was an architect behind their march to the World Cup semi-finals in 2007, which set the trend ahead of their excellent showing in the 2015 tournament, too.”
Loosehead-prop: Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
Owens said: “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!
“But, suffice to say, he hasn’t smiled often when I’ve refereed him. Another who has stood the test of time, which speaks volumes about his ability and character.”
Hooker: John Smit (South Africa)
Owens said: “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. He’s a good man and was a very good player at hooker.”
Tighthead-prop: Phil Vickery (England)
Owens said: “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.
“As a player, at his peak with Wasps during their European runs and with England in 2007, he was a formidable force.
“Just about edges out Carl Hayman, another great player and a pretty honest one as well. When he got it wrong and I penalised him, he would accept it.”