Elliott Stooke, Bath, England, ex-Gloucester and London Irish, England U20 lock, chooses the best XV he has played with or against as an opponent.
1 Beno Obano
Was close between him and Ellis Genge. Both have got raw aggression and hit hard, but for a big lad Beno has some class footwork as well.
2 Jamie George
I’ve come across some good dart throwers in my time, but ‘Jinxy’s’ arrows are on point every time. Very skilful hooker, great engine and not a bad bloke either.
3 John Afoa
‘Razzle’ has got it all. Still playing in the Prem at 36 going on 40, could probably play at No.10 if he wanted because his hands are that good. Not bad on the beers too if his missus ever lets him out!
4 Bakkies Botha
Lucky enough to play against him for Gloucester against the Barbarians, the man was HUGE. Remember trying to tackle him, holding on to one leg and him looking down smiling in an evil way.
5 Luke Charteris
The one and only, couldn’t leave this man out. King of the skies, lineout technician who could get tackled, roll and present and still make two metres, he’s that tall! Incredibly lucky to now have him as a coach.
6 Ardie Savea
Close call with Ross Moriarty, but I played against Savea in the 2013 JWC and he was outstanding. Doesn’t accept going to ground when carrying and pops up a lot with well-assisted tries.
7 Matt Kvesic
All day, every day for me at No.7. How he survives some hits in the clearout is beyond me. Highly reliable, wins turnovers at crucial times, but hates a beer!
8 Taulupe Faletau
My changing room partner, what a man! Doesn’t talk much, does all of it on the field and operates at his finest in the wide channels linking up with the backs. Silky, tough player who loves – I repeat, LOVES – a glass of red!
9 Jimmy Cowan
John Cooney, Rhys Webb and Greig Laidlaw all close but Jimmy helped me with my confidence in my first year at Gloucester as he was so reassuring. Great bloke, tough as nails who once had a rouge Mohican – rated it.
10 Owen Farrell
Best professional I’ve come across who made me feel very welcome any time I’d be in England camp (on the odd occasion… Eddie!).
11 Sinoti Sinoti
So good they named him twice! Outrageous feet, outrageous player, literally such a big fella it was IMPOSSIBLE to tackle him. Not a clue which way he was going! Close between him, the speedster Jonny May and James Simpson-Daniel.
12 Manu Tuilagi
When he’s on it ‘The Chief’ is the world’s best crash-ball centre. Scary when he runs down your channel, but the nicest bloke off the field and loves a game of snooker. Edges out Ma’a Nonu.
13 Semi Radradra
Played against him for England against the Baa-Baas and he was an absolute joke, laughing as he was running and dancing around players. Was a warm day as well – over 30 degrees – so I was completely hating life!
14 Semesa Rokoduguni
Wizard-like, slippery, strong and has done some ridiculous things on the paddock. Bath fans love him, should have got more England caps. Close call over Anthony Watson and Josua Tuisova.
15 Charles Piutau
Played with and against some class 15s – Rob Cook, Mike Brown, Alex Goode, James Hook etc – but Piutau takes the gravy. You know the step is coming but still can’t defend it. Very elusive, big player with a strong fend and outstanding on counter-attack and loose ball. Can win a game single-handedly.