The 2013 Rugby Championship final between South Africa and New Zealand will see two impressive teams duke it out to be crowned champions of the Southern Hemisphere.
Both sides are jam-packed with individuals who can make a real difference. While 30 individuals have the chance to become national heroes in the Saturday, Oct. 5 clash, a team performance of collective brilliance is needed to take the prize.
Keeping the notion of team in mind, which players would make it into a collective 15 made up of players solely from these two nations?
Let’s take a look.
|Tony Woodcock||Loosehead Prop||New Zealand|
|Andrew Hore||Hooker||New Zealand|
|Jannie Du Plessis||Tighthead Prop||South Africa|
|Eben Etzebeth||Lock||South Africa|
|Sam Whitelock||Lock||New Zealand|
|Liam Messam||Blindside Flanker||New Zealand|
|Richie McCaw||Openside Flanker||New Zealand|
|Kieran Read||Number Eight||New Zealand|
|Aaron Smith||Scrum Half||New Zealand|
|Morne Steyn||Flyhalf||South Africa|
|Bryan Habana||Wing||South Africa|
|Jean De Villiers||Inside Centre||South Africa|
|Conrad Smith||Outside Centre||New Zealand|
|Julian Savea||Wing||New Zealand|
|Israel Dagg||Full Back||New Zealand|
Information via ESPNscrum.com.
This terrifying team is bustling with talent.
With 10 New Zealand players picked and five coming in from South Africa, the first thing to notice is an All Blacks dominance which underlines the effectiveness of John Sturgeon's side this year.
Tony Woodcock and Andrew Hore's positioning along the front row is made interesting alongside South Africa's Jannie Du Plessis.
The All Blacks duo have played alongside each other at Highlanders and offer the right balance of experience and fierceness to combat any opposition. With Du Plessis' power and mobility in the tighthead position, the team have a front row that is both stable and ready to burst forward.
This is made all the more prominent by the presence of Eben Etzebeth and Sam Whitelock ahead of them, who are capable of playing the game on the brutal side.
Whitelock's increased sense of aggressiveness has seen the 24-year-old become one of New Zealand's most important enforcers, making the bearded behemoth an obvious pick.
Openside flanker Richie McCaw emerges as this team's natural leader.
The 32-year-old has endured a run of injuries in recent times but is fit to face South Africa, as reported by Sky Sports. McCaw's unending spirit and willingness to put his body on the line makes him a natural choice alongside Liam Messam, especially as the pair are able to form such a dominant partnership at international level.
Flyhalf Dan Carter misses out through injury, per the Guardian, giving Morne Steyn the chance to shine. It's also worth noting that Bismarck Du Plessis, younger brother of the included Jannie, misses out after injuring Carter, who is so often the difference-maker.
This team of talented players needs a little tactical intelligence, which is where Aaron Smith comes in. The All Blacks scrum-half makes up for his lack of size with a work rate that often gets New Zealand out of trouble. With Kieran Read behind him, Smith will get extra time to assert his fleet-footed escape plans.
Which team will win the 2013 Rugby Championship?
It's immensely frightening to consider a team that includes Bryan Habana and Julian Savea on the wings. The speed of each player cannot be highlighted enough, giving this selection ridiculous pace down either side.
With the likes of Jean De Villiers, Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg taking up positions across the centre, a serious amount of space would be open up for those around them. Both Habana and Savea are the types of players who can romp through the opposition at ease, but it's the distribution of their feeders that would make a huge difference here.
Which players would you select for a best 15 made up solely of South Africa and New Zealand representatives? Let us know in the comments section below.