1. Tony Woodcock – Anybody who could maintain their spot in the All Blacks for 14 years and win 118 caps deserves respect. Helped create their period of dominance in world rugby.
2. Kevin Mealamu – Played well above his weight and was a tough-as-nails hooker who never let Auckland or New Zealand down. Fantastic longevity.
3. Greg Holmes – Not your typical big tight-head but you could always rely on him and I always thought he was underrated. Glad he’s now a teammate of mine at the Chiefs.
4. Brodie Retallick – The best new-age lock in the world. Great balance between being able to do the ‘tight’ stuff and then play with the ball in hand, offload and be a running threat.
5. Dan Vickermann – A role model for me at the Waratahs. Wouldn’t say he was overly skilful but I admired the way he’d always hit 40 rucks and make 30 tackles in every game.
6. Jerome Kaino –Huge work-rate, carries, tackles and a great option in the lineout. Week-in, week-out he’s so consistent and he was a major part of the All Blacks success.
7. George Smith – I’ve played with Hooper and Pocock but Smith is a once-in-a-generation player who has the ability to play hard as a No.7 and be a ball player. Game sense sets him apart.
8. Wyclif Palu – In his prime he could change a game through a big carry or hit. Passion and physicality made him a guy I just loved playing with.
9. Ruan Pienaar – Great kicking and running game, always a threat and he has a great pass and is a super athlete.
10. Dan Carter – Don’t think I ever beat him in Test matches or Super Rugby. You knew what you were going to get but you could never get a handle on him.
11. Lote Tuqiri –A big force for the Waratahs team when I was coming through. Crowd loved him and he was super athletic and a great finisher at Test and Super Rugby level.
12. Kurtley Beale –When we won Super Rugby with the Waratahs in 2014 he was the key link in our attack. Can play anywhere and has skills I haven’t seen in any other player.
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper – Fantastic longevity, playing 116 times for Australia, and an extremely versatile, good team man who was so reliable week-in, week-out.
14. Joe Rokocoko – In his prime, phenomenal – skill, pace, physicality, the lot. You look at Waisake Naholo and Julian Savea but Joe was the first electric winger for the All Blacks.
15. Israel Folau – Ability in the air is unmatched and his support play and ability to find the try-line makes him a huge threat. Fabulous athlete.
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