New Jersey Reds signing Macauley Cook selects a Dream Team based on the best he has played alongside or against as an opponent over the course of his career with Cardiff Blues and Wales U20s.
1. Gethin Jenkins
Easiest decision to make. In my opinion, the best loosehead the world has seen. Told you what he thought of you on the pitch, good or bad, but always got the best out of you. Very privileged to have shared the field with him.
2. Matthew Rees
‘Smiler’ was a great player in his prime – a Test Lion and captain of Wales. He’s also my agent and a good friend so I had no choice really!
3. Taufa’ao Filise
Another no-brainer. The ‘King of Tonga’ is a Blues legend with almost 240 appearances. Incredible athlete to play at the highest level until he was 40.
4. Jarrad Hoeata
Tough choice as I’ve played against Brodie Retallick but having played with Jarrad for a few seasons you always had the feeling that he had your back. Skilful lock who played some great rugby for Blues towards the end of his career.
5. Alun Wyn Jones
A Welsh cult hero and great player for the Ospreys and Wales. Gutted never to play alongside him but was always hard work playing against him!
6. Josh Navidi
Impossible to pick a side without ‘Navs’ in it. For the best part of a decade he’s almost carried the Blues with some unreal performances. Should have a lot more caps.
7. Thomas Young
I’ve played with great 7s like Sam Warburton and Ellis Jenkins but for me Thomas is the complete player and an incredible athlete to go with it. Very powerful, fast and strong, should have had way more chances in the Welsh jersey.
8. Taulupe Faletau
Another tough decision having played with top No.8s like Nick Williams and Xavier Rush, but having played with ‘Toby’ in the Wales U20s and against him for the Dragons and Bath, it’s safe to stay he has it all. The best player I’ve played against.
9. Ruan Pienaar
We’ve had great 9s at the Blues but I went for one who was always difficult to contain when we played Ulster. His kicking game and all-round leadership was admirable.
10. Jonny Wilkinson
Had to name-drop this guy as he is a pretty big deal. Was lucky enough to play against him a couple of times when he was at Toulon and was secretly star struck, which is embarrassing to admit.
11. Shane Williams
I was lucky to have played against him for the Ospreys at the tail end of his career. Growing up, I loved watching his magic feet for Wales.
12. Owen Williams
A best mate of mine. He was more of a 13 than a 12 in my eyes before his injuries, he burst onto the scene with his incredible athleticism and could’ve gone on to be a Welsh great as he had all the attributes to be one of the world’s best.
13. Brian O’Driscoll
Absolute legend of the game, and the reason Owen moved to 12 in this team is because of this guy. Always used to cause us mayhem when we played Leinster.
14. George North
Came through age grades with George and when he’s on form he is unstoppable. Been on a few Lions tours and has had a load of caps for Wales, but still only 28!
15. Beauden Barrett
Played against him for Wales U20s in the Junior World Cup and he has been the best player on the planet for a few seasons, so I had to put him in.