Fans' World XV of the Decade: Who made the cut?

Tue, 31/12/2019, 07:00 am
by AAP
Who made the final cut?
Who made the final cut?

The votes have been tallied and names decided for the final line-up of the fans' World XV of the Decade.

A who's who of players have been selected from your votes over the past fortnight for every position on the field.

The team represents players from four nations - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Georgia - with the nine All Blacks selected a reflection of the Kiwis' dominance of the past decade.

Two Australians - David Pocock and Israel Folau - were named, along with three South Africans, extending the dominance of southern hemisphere representatives.

Georgia's no.8 Mamuka Gorgodze is the sole northern hemisphere player chosen by fans, having won 72 per cent of the vote in his position.

Here is the team of the decade, as voted by you.

1 Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)

The "Beast" garnered 36 percent of the vote, just ahead of All Black Tony Woodcock, who had 35 percent - or just 44 fewer votes that his South African rival. 

There aren't many players in the world more well-known by their nickname than their full name but the fact Mtawarira is so often referred to as "Beast" is reflective of his status in the game. He became the first Black South African to play 100 Tests for the Springboks when he passed the margin in 2019 and he bowed out Test rugby after this year's Rugby World Cup as one of the game's greats.

2 Keven Mealamu (New Zealand)

Mealamu finished with 22 percent of the vote in a tight race for the no.2 spot. Mealamu is an All Blacks icon and one of the longest-serving players in rugby history. The hooker held a special role in the All Blacks team, leading the haka 31 times in his career, including ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final against the Wallabies. Mealamu was renowned for his grittiness on the field and finished with 132 career Tests.

3 Owen Franks (New Zealand)

Franks was a shock omission from New Zealand's 2019 Rugby World Cup squad but that shouldn't tarnish his reputation over a stellar career. He finished with 43 percent of the vote, ahead of Australia's Sekope Kepu, who polled second with 25 percent. A tough tighthead who has created headaches for so many opponents in his career.

4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)

Retallick was a clear winner in the battle for lock positions, winning 41 percent of the vote ahead of Victor Matfield, who finished with 16 percent in a close-run race for the final spot in the tight five. Became the youngest man to win World Player of the Year in 2014 (aged 23). A 2015 World Cup winner and decorated All Black whose size and skill makes him a World XV choice most years.

5 Victor Matfield (South Africa)

A Springbok legend who played two of his four World Cups in this decade, Matfield was the ultimate set-piece maestro. Consistently excellent in his 127 Test matches, which places him 10th on the all-time list.

6 Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)

Almost created by a machine set to build a perfect six. Kaino won two World Cups for the Kiwis, armed with a powerful defensive game, superb skills and under-rated smarts. Won 34 percent of the vote to win his position.

7 David Pocock (Australia)

Just as they did many times on the field during their careers, Pocock and Richie McCaw waged an enormous battle to claim the no.7 jersey in the closest vote of the competition. Pocock finished just nine votes ahead of All Blacks legend Richie McCaw, with both garnering 44 per cent of the total.

With exceptional strength and timing at the breakdown, Pocock is regarded as the best on-ball 'poacher' in the modern game. His influence for the Wallabies at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups was immense.

8 Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)

The most feared Georgian in rugby - and that’s saying something - Gorgodze won in a landslide vote, amassing 72 percent of the total. Has been an immense figure for Los Lelos in four World Cup campaigns, and such are his world-class talents, he won man-of-the-match honours when Georgia played England in 2011 and New Zealand in 2015. Has plied his trade at star-studded Toulon for much of the decade.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

Smith finished with 48 percent of the vote, well ahead of Wallaby Will Genia, who was second in polling with 26 percent.  The first-choice halfback for the All Blacks throughout a largely dominant decade, Smith debuted in 2012 and won a World Cup in 2015. Passed Justin Marshall as the most capped All Black no.9 and has 87 Tests.

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand)

Along with Gorgodze, Carter finished with 72 percent of the vote to win his position in a landslide and was the clearest winner in the poll. Recently voted World Rugby player of the past decade in a fan poll, the All Black legend is a three-time International Rugby Board player of the year and while he was injured during the Kiwis' 2011 World Cup campaign, returned to lead the All Blacks to victory over Australia in the 2015 final, named man of the match. His 1598 points from 112 Tests made him the leading point-scorer in Test rugby history.

11 Bryan Habana (South Africa)

With a host of players to choose from and two wingers to decide on, Springbok flyer Habana was a clear winner, with 37 percent of the vote. While he made his Test debut in 2004 and was the IRB player of the year in 2007, Habana's 124-Test career was still going strong into the 2010s, with his final match for the Springboks against Italy at the end of 2016. Played in three World Cups, including the winning Springboks campaign of 2007 and scored 15 of his 67 international tries in the tournament.

12 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand)

Nonu was another clear winner in his category, finishing with 67 percent of votes cast for the inside centre. While he made his New Zealand debut in 2003, Nonu faced stiff competition early in his career from outstanding All Blacks Tana Umaga, Aaron Mauger and Dan Carter. But he made his mark in the 2010s, winning World Cups in 2011 and 2015 as well as beating a host of players - including Carter, Dane Coles and Ben Smith - to be named New Zealand player of the year in 2015 after collecting his 100th Test cap.

13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand)

Not quite as comprehensive a win in his position as Nonu but Smith still gained 49 percent of the vote in a quality field to line up alongside his longtime centre partner in our fan team of the decade.  Smith was part of two World Cup-winning squads after making his tournament debut in the 2007 edition. With his pace, ability to read the game and peerless defence, Smith had few equals in his 94-Test career.

14 Julian Savea (New Zealand)

Votes for the second winger in the team were widely spread, with Savea finishing runner-up in polling to runaway favourite Habana in a quality field. After making his Test debut in 2012, Savea's peak came through the 2014 and 2015 seasons, when he was nominated as world player of the year. A standout in the 2015 World Cup, Savea played the last of his 54 Tests for the All Blacks in 2017, finishing with a then-record Kiwi haul of 46 tries.

15 Israel Folau (Australia)

Regardless of any off-field controversy, there can be no debate about Folau's ability on the field. In 73 Tests after making his debut in 2013, the former rugby league international stamped himself as one of the stars of world rugby, with his unparalleled work in the air and strong ball running. Three-time winner of the John Eales Medal. Won his position with 40 percent of the vote ahead of Ben Smith, who finished with 35 percent.

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