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Dream Team: USA and former Northampton and Bedford Blues fly-half Will Hooley

Will Hooley

Will Hooley, USA and former Moseley, Northampton, Exeter, Bedford Blues, and England U20s fly-half, chooses the best XV he has played with or against…

1. Alec Hepburn

Great guy, typifying the new-age style front rower who’s athletic, has great ball skills and understands the game very well. Part of our England U20s JWC win in 2013.

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie

Also part of that 2013 team, can only be described as a nut job because he’s one of the hardest tacklers and hardest carriers I know. Has brilliant hands too.

3. Logovi’i Mulipola

I started for Northampton against Leicester and they used this guy in the backline off lineout play. He’s a wrecking ball who just sits down guys for fun.

4. Samu Manoa

The guy’s a freak and I’m so glad to have played with him rather than against. Puts in the biggest hits and has an unbelievable set of hands to help create chances.

5. Christian Day

You need a great lineout caller and this guy was one of the best in the business. I’ve never played with anyone who studies the set-piece more than Christian.

6. Justin Blanchett

Had to retire recently but a formidable tackler for Bedford who blitzed rucks like I’ve never seen before. Quiet guy off the field but went flat out for 80 minutes.

7. Phil Dowson

Superb help to me  as a youngster at Saints. Such an industrious player, fantastic hands and great leader. No surprise to see him doing well in coaching.

8. Akira Ioane

Played for Maori All Blacks against USA and carved us up. Whether it’s sitting someone down, offloading or making line-breaks, he’s an exceptionally talented guy.

9. Lee Dickson

Yappy No.9 who you’d want to punch if you played against but someone you want in your team for speed of ball, driving a game and commanding the referee.

10. Danny Cipriani

George Ford is close but Cipriani does things no other 10 can. Kicks off both feet, plays flat to the line and brilliant at putting people into space.

11. Kotaro Matsushima

Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima
World Cup wonder: Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima scored five tries at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Getty Images

USA played Japan before the World Cup and I hadn’t appreciated how rapid he is. Beat me in a phone box, made two tries and was simply unplayable.

12. Paul Lasike

Weighed 130kg when he came into the USA camp from NFL but we got 10kg off him and it’s so nice to have a guy who wins the gain-line and defends hard.

13. Greg King

Must mention Mike Le Bourgeois but I played with Greg at Moseley and he was a pocket rocket. Brilliant communicator, great defender, ideal for a young No.10.

14. Anthony Watson

First played against him at U15s and his step and fend was immense. Played with him at England 16s, 18s and 20s and probably the most talented player I’ve seen.

15. Jack Nowell

Played with him against Ireland U18s when he scored a try and just slipped out of tackles. Fantastic defender and a nugget who’s gone from strength-to-strength.

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