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 installment of this series looking at openside flankers: 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.
The All Blacks No.7 jersey is hallowed ground, only worn by the most worthy and those who put it on have often saved their best to take on the British & Irish Lions.
Possibly the greatest of them all is Richie McCaw, now a World Cup winner and captain of the only side to go unbeaten for an entire Test year, but back in 2005 he was already a behemoth.
The flanker was an inspiration alongside Dan Carter as the All Blacks proved far too strong for Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions tourists.
A 3-0 scoreline flattered the visitors in all honesty, McCaw a nuisance throughout while also scoring a try in the second Test before missing the third and final clash.
And, while lifting the World Cup on home turf secured his legacy in 2011, in 2005 he was well on the way to legendary status.
There are those who put Michael Jones at the top of the pile – and it is easy to see why.
Part of the side that won the inaugural World Cup in 1987, Jones was a titan for the All Blacks over a 56-Test career.
And when the Lions came to town in 1993 Jones was there to fight them off, the All Blacks securing a narrow 2-1 series win.
And the tradition of Kiwi No.7s does not end there; Ian Kirkpatrick back in 1971 was an all-time great.
Indeed such was his all-round talent that at one point he was the All Blacks’ record try scorer, finishing his career with 16.
The Lions may have won that 1971 series but the intensity of the battles at the breakdown meant Kirkpatrick was never short of work, which he shouldered manfully.
From South Africa it would be an oversight to not mention Ruben Kruger, the openside from the World Cup winning side of 1995, who also played the first two Tests against the Lions in 1997.
Kruger sadly passed away in 2010 but his flanker pairing with Andre Venter will live on in the memory.
There is another Springbok in Heinrich Brussow who merits a nod, the limpet-like openside earning a starting spot for South Africa with a spectacular performance for the Cheetahs in a warm-up game in 2009.
Initially overlooked for selection, Brussow ended up starting both the first and third Tests of a series that the Boks narrowly edged.
And last but by no means least there is George Smith, the only ever Wallaby to have played against the Lions twice.
He may not remember too much of the 2013 series, his one appearance in the third Test highlighted by a shuddering shoulder charge from Richard Hibbard that floored him.
But the World Cup winner was at the forefront of the 2001 Australia side that came from behind to seal a dramatic series win over the tourists in Sydney.