In The Press: Pat Howard's Dream Team
In this weekend's Rugby Paper, centre Pat Howard chose the best players that he has featured with or against throughout his career.
1. Steven Kitshoff – Won the U20s World Cup together with South Africa and made great memories. Big scrummager, fantastic in the loose, fully deserves his place in the Springboks.
2. Dylan Hartley – An amazing leader who provides a brilliant example in everything he does. He’s incredibly physical and his attitude shows why he has been so successful with England.
3. Frans Malherbe – Could have gone for Tadgh Furlong but Frans is another very hard worker who is always so solid, which is why he gets such a constant selection for the Springboks.
4. Eben Etzebeth – A man mountain who is one of the world’s best locks. An incredible physical presence and through age grade rugby you could always tell he was going to make it.
5. Paul O’Connell – A rugby icon to anyone who loves the game. Another fantastic leader and was incredibly respected by everyone at Munster. You never heard a bad word about him.
6. Siya Kolisi – A fantastic ball carrier and a really top, top guy. Has a great sense of humour and has time for everyone, which shows why he has got to where he is today.
7. Peter O’Mahony – Captain of Munster whilst I was there. Great over the ball and a very tough, rock solid competitor who doesn’t mind taking a few hits for his teammates.
8. Duane Vermeulen – ‘Thor’ embodied. A freak of nature who is an incredible ball carrier. Very dominant and another who has turned himself in to one of the top players around.
9. Conor Murray – Arguably the best No.9 in the world right now. Amazingly consistent and he has a great kicking game which gives any team with him involved a huge chance.
10. Demetri Catrakilis – Mercurial player and incredibly skilled fly-half who has a great eye for the ball. So good with his feet that he could really could have been a footballer.
11. Keith Earls – Never the flashiest but so consistent in everything he does. Probably the hardest working wing in world rugby in terms of training and does everything right.
12. Damian De Allende – Hugely powerful centre who gives any team great go forward. A very aggressive player with a deceptively good pass to unlock any defence.
13. Huw Jones – He came out of nowhere and burst on to the scene. Has now established himself as a standout international player with Scotland which is very deserved.
14. Cheslin Kolbe – The best feet I’ve ever seen. Makes something out of nothing and he could step his way out of a postbox. So strong for his size and is not afraid of a big hit.
15. Gio Aplon – Similar to Cheslin, amazing feet and real X-factor. Has played for the Springboks in 7s and 15s which shows how talented he is. Great guy on and off the pitch.