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We pick our combined Australia and New Zealand team ahead of the World Cup final

We pick our ultimate XV from this year’s World Cup final.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

IN CASE YOU weren’t aware, New Zealand and Australia are meeting this Saturday in the World Cup final.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone arguing against the pair being the two best in the world right now, so we’ve decided to go through the line-ups to pick our ultimate XV from the best the Bledisloe rivals have to offer.

Some positions were easy to call, while the others (especially the back row) were seriously, seriously tough.

Here’s what we came up with.

15. Israel Folau

Didn’t look fully fit in the semi-final win against Australia, but on his day he’s comfortably the best 15 in the world.

Ben Smith is as reliable as the day is long, but there’s no matching the all-round game of Izzy Folau.

14. Nehe Milner Skudder

Adam Ashley Cooper may have banged in a a hat-trick in the semi-final, but Milner Skudder is one of the most exciting new faces on the test scene at the moment.

Seven tries in just seven games for his country, the 24-year-old scored two beauties against the Wallabies on his debut earlier this year.

Source: Rugby Skills/YouTube

13. Conrad Smith

Creeping up on 100 tests, the 34-year-old is one of the game’s most reliable defenders, and when you look at the talent he’s still keeping out of the New Zealand centre, it shows just how vital he is to the All Black engine.

12. Matt Giteau

Giteau’s return to the Wallabies after a four-year hiatus has added so much experience to the centre, and his presence as an old-fashioned second five-eighth has allowed Bernard Foley to play more inside him.

That beautiful dipping pass out to Adam Ashley Cooper against Argentina just sums up the class of his distribution.


11. Julian Savea

Sorry Mr Mitchell, but 38 tries in 40 tests is getting into this team all day, every day.

Speed, strength, skills and still just 25.

And as for THAT try against France…

savea try 2

10. Dan Carter

Plenty criticised the size of the deal he’s been offered at Racing 92 given his age and injury history, but in the last few weeks Carter’s made them all look like right mugs.

Bernard Foley has come of age in this tournament, but Carter has nailed down his legacy as the best around.

savea try 1

9. Aaron Smith

One of the easier positions to pick, Smith is arguably the best number nine in the world at the moment.

A short, snappy, classic scrum-half, he keeps defences on high alert with his fondness for sniping the fringes.

erin smuth

1. Scott Sio

The new kid of the Australian front row, the Brumbies loosehead has been a major part of the Wallabies’ reversal of fortunes at the scrum this year.

Badly missed in the semi-final against Argentina, Sio’s presence is vital for Australia this weekend.

2. Dane Coles

I’m a big Stephen Moore fan, but not only is Dane Coles exceptional in his core duties as a hooker, he’s also got the rugby skills which make his as valuable as another centre.

Just ask South Africa…

dane coles

3. Sekope Kepu

We’ve got Aussies either side of the a New Zealander in the front row, and Kepu is nailed on for tighthead. One of the most improved Australian players of the last few seasons, Kepu’s scrummaging has been a big feature of this tournament.

4. Brodie Retallick

The reigning World Rugby Player of the Year, Retallick looks to be getting better and better.

Approaching 50 caps before he turns 25, the Chiefs second-row is second only to teammate Kieran Read in lineout steals so far in the tournament.

5. Sam Whitelock

Dean Mumm and Rob Simmons have both been excellent for Australia, but Whitelock and Retallick come as a pair. The Crusaders lock could win his second World Cup this Saturday at just 27, and provides perfect balance to the New Zealand second row.

Also, he can do this…

Source: Rugbydump2015/YouTube

6. Richie McCaw

We’re cheating here, but Richie is making a move across to the blindside.

He hasn’t played there much for the All Blacks, but we just couldn’t resist squeezing him in.

7. David Pocock

There was a time during the height of his injury trouble that we wondered if we’d ever see David Pocock in  Wallabies jersey again.

Well, thank God we did, because he’s looking even better than ever.

Britain Rugby WCup Argentina Australia Source: AP/Press Association Images

Mainly playing at number eight with Australia to accommodate Michael Hooper, we’ve put him back in his natural habitat.

15 turnover at this World Cup. 15.

8. Kieran Read

If this backrow doesn’t put the fear of God into you, I’m not sure what will. Eight turnovers, 31 carries over the gainline and six lineouts stolen in the tournament so far, Read’s stats mean he just can’t be left out.

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About the author:

Neil Treacy

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