At the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup, scribes and all manner of rugby pundits will be selecting their hypothetical Team of the Tournament. Fans will, no doubt, comment about the shortcomings of each of these teams and the short-sightedness of their “selectors”. It’s a fool’s errand to even try your hand at such an exercise one would venture to say.
Of course, you could go one further – let’s just call the Team of the Tournament BEFORE the big event even kicks-off! I could be like Mohamad Ali calling predictions into existence. Or, (probably much more likely) I could crash and burn like Evel Knievel attempting the impossible trick…
Either way, it will prove interesting looking back at these picks once it’s all said and done. So here is your local Couch Critic’s predicted Team of the Tournament for Rugby World Cup 2019 even before a ball has been kicked in anger.
1.Joe Marler (England)
A Mohawked 120kg unit is usually the one that does the convincing, yet in this case Eddie Jones was able to persuade the big man to step back in the ring for one last hoorah. I don’t think he’s come back to end his career with a whimper.
2. Malcolm Marx (South Africa)
Steals like an openside, tackles like a blindside and carries like a number eight. Marx’s agent better have a ring-tone he loves because he is about to hear that tune a heck of a lot as his charger captures the imagination of those holding the cheque book in this part of the world.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Consistently one of the top tighthead props in the world over the past number of years. Mobile enough with ball in hand across the park but also solid as a rock in the scrum.
4. Maro Itoje (England)
Many believe the lanky lock is poised to have blinder. Expect to see him stepping out of plenty of attempted tackles with those massive strides of his.
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
Martin Johnson, Francois Pienaar, Richie McCaw and John Smit might have a few things in common – one of them being that they were leaders that commanded total respect from their own players, opponents and officials alike. A man who commands enough respect to lead the combined forces of the British & Irish Lions (and rather successfully at that) Alun Wyn Jones fits this bill perfectly. Where Jones goes, his Welsh team will follow; Gatland will be hoping its all the way to Yokohama on the 2nd of November to go and collect Bill and the winners’ medals.
6. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
Things get tricky with openside and blindside flankers and the different roles they play. Savea is a bit of an all rounder and is just such an explosive player that he forces inclusion regardless of the number on the back of his jersey. One of the most explosive players in the world game at present – Ardie is destined to be big in Japan.
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
Simon Jones of Wales Online was asked to pick his Top25 players of the World Cup and PSDT made it to second spot on his list. It’s clear that it is not only South Africans and the wider Southern Hemisphere that rate the incredible upward curve that Du Toit’s game is on since being entrusted with the blindside role. It would come as a surprise were the Bok flanker to not be named as one of the nominees for World Rugby Player of the Year for 2019.
8. Billy Vunipola (England)
The leading ball carrier in the Six Nations, big Billy is bound to have a barnstorming tournament. Did someone say Godzilla?!
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
One wouldn’t expect a scrumhalf to be high up on a list of clean breaks and defenders beaten, yet the live-wire Frenchie chalked up an impressive eight breaks and beat 17 defenders from behind the Tricolor pack during the Six Nations. If they are to not only progress from their group, but have any hope of extending their stay in the land of the rising sun, then x-factor from men like Dupont will be required with frequency for the French.
10. Finn Russell (Scotland)
This slot will in all likelihood go to the flyhalf of the winning nation but whilst Pollard, Barrett and Farrell will arguably be duelling it out for top point scorer they will struggle to match the Scottish pivot in terms of creating opportunities for those around him. Be prepared to watch a magician at work.
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
Another consistent Norther Hemisphere performer who should shine in the big spotlight with tries galore.
12. Samu Kerevi (Australia)
The Queensland Reds centre beat 71 defenders from his incredible 220 ball carries during the 2019 Super Rugby season (needless to say he backed this up in the Rugby Championship as well). The midfielders from Uruguay and Georgia will be praying that Kerevi is given a rest for their encounters with the Wallabies or it will be a very long day at the office for them.
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
The Fox, as he is fondly called by the Welsh, hardly stands out as an impressive physical specimen when compared to some of the muscled giants who will be on show over the next month and a half. Yet few (if any) possess the same blend of making sound decisions at the right time, be incredibly solid on defence, have an eye for a gap and just generally have an unrivalled work ethic. Davies personifies what Welsh rugby is about – little show but all go.
14. Sevu Reece (New Zealand)
The unadulterated speed, hunger and explosiveness of the Crusaders winger could see him not only secure his spot in Hansen’s first choice team but also end the World Cup as one of the top overall try scorers.
15. Willie le Roux (South Africa)
Okay…..hear me out before you unleash the rotten tomatoes. Le Roux is central to the Springbok game as a second playmaking option to Pollard. He does plenty of the tactical kicking and will also be tasked with diffusing aerial attacks from opponents. Rassie Erasmus has shown full faith in entrusting the fullback with a central role in his green-and-gold line-up and the two-time champions will be hoping he delivers in spades.
Have any players been missed out? Comment Below!!
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