The Greatest XV of the Professional Era - Page 3 of 3 - Ruck

The Greatest XV of the Professional Era

4. Martin Johnson (England)

A player who led by example and the kind of man you would always want alongside you in the trenches when the chips are down. Would never ask someone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. Captained the Lions on two tours, including the triumphant 1997 trip to South Africa, while he will always be remembered as the man presented with the 2003 World Cup, which England won in Sydney.

5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

 The Irish second row was certainly blessed with special rugby powers having been one of the world’s leading tight forwards for more than a decade. A three-times Lions who captained the tour of South Africa in 2009.

6. Schalk Burger (South Africa)

One of the most physical flankers in the game, he was dubbed a “threshing machine” by former Springboks coach Nick Mallett. Came back from injury and life-threatening illness to enjoy an immense career.

7. Richie McCaw (New Zealand) 

Who else? He earned a world-record 148 caps for the All Blacks, winning 131 of those games and captaining his country 111 times, including two World Cup triumphs in 2011 & 2015. 

8. Sergio Parisse (Italy)

There’s no such thing as a one-man team in rugby, but it’s got pretty close to that with Italy at times over the past decade or so. That one man, of course, is their talismanic skipper.

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