Dream Team: Neil Back – World Cup winning England and Leicester flanker

1. Graham Rowntree – He didn’t make the England 2003 World Cup squad but his performances in Australia and New Zealand the summer before that played a huge part in our success.
2. Keith Wood – I first faced him in my second Test in 1994. Was like a back-rower-wannabe-centre but with the skills to match. Huge in the 1997 Lions tour.
3. Darren Garforth – A true Coventry kid like me. He was the cornerstone of the Tigers’ back-to-back Heineken Cup winning squads in 2001 and 2002.
4. Martin Johnson – Leader. Warrior. Engine. Furrowed brow. Ferengi. Winner. Friend. Would obviously be the captain of my team.
5. Fritz Van Heerden –  Complimented Johnson’s more powerful play with mobility, but perhaps more importantly he pioneered the contesting of the opposition’s lineout throws and helped develop Ben Kay.
6. Henry Tuilagi – Anyone who can bang out 10 reps at 180kg on the bench press and then go for a pre-match team run can be the enforcer in my team. The only player I thought ‘Oh My God’ when he hit a player.
7. Josh Kronfeld – The All Black openside was the player of the 1995 World Cup for me. His support and link play were inspirational as a young back row.
8. Dean Richards – The main reason I joined Leicester in 1990. Being part of that back row with John Wells was the catalyst for everything that followed in my career.
9. Austin Healey – Like Wig, he didn’t make the 2003 squad but he was a big part in creating the competition for a shirt in a number of positions. Played in four positions but unfortunately wasn’t the best in any.
10. Joe Stransky – Part of the famous 1995 South Africa winning squad before joining Leicester in 1997 scoring nearly 1,000 points in 70 odd games. His tactical nous helped us stay ahead of the pack in the early years of the professional era.
11. Jonah Lomu – The first true global rugby superstar. He was huge in 1995 especially when he ran over a few of my teammates in that infamous semi-final.
12. Scott Gibbs – Solid and powerful gain line winner but with good distribution skills. A heartbreaker, not with the ladies, with that try at Wembley in 1998 but he still makes my team.
13. Brian O’Driscoll – A world record 141 Test caps. Pace, great feet and fearless, but above all humble as best demonstrated in his non-selection for the final Test for the Lions in 2013.
14. Alesana Tuilagi – An incredibly strong player who used his blend of pace and power to good effect. A nightmare for any defence.
15. Jason Robinson – Billy the Wizz proved if you’re good enough you’re big enough with his acceleration, twirling feet and match-winning mentality.
*This article was published in The Rugby Paper on July 20

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