Northampton Saints prop Francois van Wyk selects a XV comprising some of the best players he has played alongside as teammates and those he has faced as an opponent.
Van Wyk’s career has spanned both hemispheres, having represented the Stormers and Western Force in Super Rugby before moving to Franklin’s Gardens in 2017.
1. Mako Vunipola
His consistency and work-rate over the years is quite phenomenal. Always up there in tackle and carry stats.
2. Jamie George
His lineout and set-piece is world-class – no one better in English rugby.
3. Taniela Tupou
Owen Franks is close – I always had a tough time against him in Super Rugby – but I’ve gone for the younger man because Tupou’s scrummaging has improved no end. Has potential to be one of the best in the world because of his ball-carrying.
4. Courtney Lawes
He’s quite special in that he’s a very chilled guy but when he crosses that white line he becomes a completely different beast. Leads our Saints team in the physicality department and a great servant to England.
5. Eben Etzebeth
Played with him at age group level when I was a lock. He was a winger but moved to second row after a growth spurt. His physicality and what he’s achieved in the game with South Africa make him one of the greats.
6. Peceli Yato
When we played Clermont this guy was devastating. His ability to make tackles, carry and make massive turn-overs is off the scale.
7. Michael Hooper
All about his work-rate, he just doesn’t stop. Played against him when I was with the Force and he was simply unplayable at the breakdown.
8. Siya Kolisi
Played with Siya back home and at school he was unstoppable. A guy I really looked up to, he’s in for his leadership and what he’s achieved with South Africa.
9. Cobus Reinach
He was a massive asset for Saints and I haven’t played with a scrum-half as phenomenal in what he could do. Brings magic in attack and defence.
10. Beauden Barrett
Played against the Hurricanes and he’s still the best No.10 in the world for me with his speed and the way he attacks the gain-line. I love what he brings.
11. Alivereti Raka
I’ve gone for two Fijian wings. They’re both similar in the way they carry the ball and the physicality they bring. As an attacking threat, Raka is right up there.
12. Damian de Allende
Wasn’t really in the age group mix but the way he developed so quickly into a world-class centre was astonishing.
13. Rob Horne
Played against him in Super Rugby and we became close mates at Saints. He mentored me and the passion he had for the game was immense. The way he had to finish was very sad but he was a terrific midfield organiser.
14. Josua Tuisova
Exactly the same as Raka, having those two together spells carnage!
15. Cheslin Kolbe
Played together at Western Province. He creates magic with the ball, for a small guy he’s gone on to enjoy fantastic success.