ULSTER’S ROGER WILSON has been named at No. 8 in Nick Mallet’s ‘World XV’ to face South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday [KO 4.00pm].
The 32-year-old has been capped once by Ireland [against Japan in 2005] and will relish the opportunity to play alongside some international household names in a team captained by out-half Matt Giteau.
ERC Player of the Year Steffon Armitage and Montpellier wildman Mamuka Gorgodze complete the back row either side of Wilson, while Racing Métro’s Juandré Kruger and Saracens’ in-form Alistair Hargreaves are the lock pairing.
Craig Burden and Carl Hayman of Toulon are in the front row, with Sona Taumalolo lining out at loosehead prop ahead of a possible return to the Chiefs next season.
Castres’ superb scrum-half Rory Kockott is inside Giteau in the halfbacks, while Montpellier duo Wynand Olivier and Rene Ranger provide attacking thrust in the midfield.
A back three of James O’Connor, Hosea Gear and Drew Mitchell has tries written all over it, while the likes of Joe Tekori, François Trinh-Duc and Benson Stanley offer game-changing ability from the bench.
In a sign of the Top 14 club’s strength, seven of the players in the World XV’s starting line-up will be at Toulon next season; O’Connor, Mitchell, Giteau, Armitage, Gorgodze, Hayman and Burden.
Indeed, the entire backline ply their trades in France, as well as six of the pack and five of the replacements. Up against an incredibly experienced South Africa team, Wilson will be keen to show what Ireland have been missing in recent years.
World XV: James O’Connor; Drew Mitchell, Rene Ranger, Wynand Olivier, Hosea Gear; Matt Giteau (capt.), Rory Kockott; Sona Taumalolo, Craig Burden, Carl Hayman; Juandré Kruger, Alistair Hargreaves; Mamuka Gorgodze, Steffon Armitage, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Andrew Hore, Schalk Ferreira, Pat Cilliers, Joe Tekori, Alexandre Lapandry, Jimmy Cowan, François Trinh-Duc, Benson Stanley.