All Times SANZAR XV – centres

Your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time has been picked - but which players stand the best chance of toppling them? Here we look at some of the stand-out Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies at each position, with the next instalment of this series looking at the centres: tell us who you think should make the team, we'll add up the votes and publish the all-time SANZAR XV, as selected by the fans. [more]

All Times SANZAR XV – centres

Your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time has been picked – but which players stand the best chance of toppling them? Here we look at some of the stand-out Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies at each position, with the next instalment of this series looking at the centres: tell us who you think should make the team, we’ll add up the votes and publish the all-time SANZAR XV, as selected by the fans.

It’s hard to look beyond the All Blacks when you are analysing the great Sanzar centres, almost every great Kiwi midfielder had a series to remember against the Lions.

Go back to 1977 and one of the all-time great pairings of Bruce Robertson and Bill Osborne were key figures in eking out a 3-1 series win.

In the four Tests that saw the Lions enjoy almost total domination up front, the dovetailing styles of Robertson and Osborne proved too much for the tourists' backline.

The willowy Robertson was the creative fulcrum of the side, laying on tries for his outside backs, best exemplified by his delightful chip for Ian Kirkpatrick’s score in Dunedin.

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And alongside him his partner in crime Osborne was a no-nonsense midfield merchant, straight lines and hard tackles were the name of the game and they worked perfectly in tandem.

In 1983 the great Warwick Taylor had just appeared on the scene, making his debut for the All Blacks in the first Test of that series 4-0 whitewash.

Renowned for his defensive prowess, Taylor would go on to win the World Cup in 1987 and his son Tom is a current All Black as well.

Fast forward to 1993 and Frank Bunce is a name that will still give Lions nightmares from that series, the great man running in tries in both the first and third Test victories.

One of the finest 13s to play the game, his budding partnership with Walter Little was taking shape in that series although he also flourished alongside both Eroni Clarke and Lee Stensness.

And still the great All Blacks keep coming, 2005’s 'Blackwash' of Clive Woodward’s Lions serving as Tana Umaga’s highest and lowest points of his career.

Three tries over the three Test series victory prove the skipper's importance to that great side, but his contribution will also forever be remembered for that tackle in the first Test on Brian O’Driscoll.

Alongside him the calming influence of Aaron Mauger was of underestimated importance to that side, the No.12 taking some of the playmaking pressure off the peerless Dan Carter.

But it is not just Kiwis that have haunted the Lions in the centres, Jean de Villliers and Jaque Fourie, reunited this autumn for the Springboks, were the scourge of the Lions in 2009.

Fourie may have only started the third Test of that series but his try in the right-hand corner to deny the tourists in the second Test will live long in the memory.

Before those two Boks, Willie Du Plessis held sway in 1980, running in two tries as South Africa proved too strong for Bill Beaumont’s Lions.

And it would be remiss to not mention the contribution of an Australian in this list, Daniel Herbert’s two tries in the decisive third Test in 2001 helping the Wallabies to a come-from-behind series win that had appeared so very unlikely at half-time of the second Test. 

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