25 Years of Investec Super Rugby: ANZAC XV

ANZAC XV WEB

Note: Players must have won a Super Rugby title to be eligible for selection

 

Investec Super Rugby ANZAC XV

 

15: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

In a career spanning more than a decade for the Highlanders (2009-2019), Ben Smith established himself as one of the world’s premier outside backs through his fearless work in the air, dangerous counter-attacking ability and superb tactical play. He was an integral part of the Highlanders maiden Super Rugby title win in 2015 and ended his career at second place on the Highlanders try-scoring chart with 36 tries, second only to Waisake Naholo and one place ahead of Highlanders legend Jeff Wilson.

 

14: Joe Roff (Brumbies)

Aside from the immortal Jonah Lomu, there wasn’t another outside back who took the early years of Super Rugby by storm quite like Joe Roff. In 1997, Roff crossed for an incredible 15 tries as the Brumbies surged all the way into the final. It was a single season try scoring record that stood for over 20 years until Ben Lam went one better in 2018. Although the Brumbies came up short against the Blues in 1997, Roff tasted success with the Brumbies in 2001 and 2004. He currently sits at number four on the all-time Super Rugby try scoring ladder with 57 tries.

 

13: Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies, Rebels)

If you’re looking for physicality and durability in your midfield then look no further than Stirling Mortlock. The towering 105kg powerhouse had the ability to not just bust a game wide open with his explosive ball running, but also set up his outside backs with deft ball skills. Mortlock debuted for the Brumbies in 1998 and was the part of two title winning squads before finishing his career with two seasons for the Melbourne Rebels in 2011. Mortlock captained the Brumbies throughout their successful 2004 campaign before cruelly being injured out of the final against the Sharks.

 

12: Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues)

In a Super Rugby career that spanned over a decade and included appearances for three different teams, Sonny Bill Williams cemented himself as one of the biggest draw cards and match winners in the competition’s history. In 2012, Williams was in career-best form as the Chiefs lifted their first Super Rugby title. The code-switching superstar ended the season with the most offloads, tackle busts and line-breaks in the competition. The sight of Williams leaping into the crowd after scoring the last try of the match of the final at Waikato Stadium has gone onto become one of the iconic moments in Super Rugby history.

11: Jonah Lomu (Blues, Hurricanes, Chiefs)

One of the most recognisable names in the history of rugby, Jonah Lomu was already a global superstar by the time of the inaugural Super Rugby competition in 1996 due to his jaw-dropping efforts for the All Blacks at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He continued that form for the Blues as they won titles in 1996 and 1997 with Lomu scoring a try in the 1996 final. The 120kg winger had a lone season for the Chiefs in 1999 before becoming one part of a potent back three combination at the Hurricanes alongside Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga from 2000-2003.

10: Dan Carter (Crusaders)

Dan Carter walked into the Crusaders squad in 2003 with the shadow of Andrew Mehrtens looming large and walked out over a decade later as the highest point scorer in Super Rugby history and with three titles under his belt. Simply put, Carter is one of the most gifted players to ever grace the Super Rugby stage and his career points tally of 1,708 is likely to stand for many years to come.

 

9: George Gregan (Brumbies)

An icon of Australian rugby, George Gregan made 136 appearances and won two Super Rugby titles for the Brumbies during his tenure from 1996-2007. Not only was Gregan an incisive running, slick passing, and quick-thinking halfback, he was also an inspirational leader. The Zambian-born halfback captained the Brumbies to their maiden Super Rugby title victory in 2001 and played a key role again in 2004 under the leadership of Stirling Mortlock.

 

8: Zinzan Brooke (Blues)

Zinzan Brooke may have only played two seasons of Super Rugby but left a mark that lasts to this day. Brooke was one of those rare players that made the crowd stand to its feet every time he touched the ball. Blessed with size, strength, and the ball skills of a first five-eighth, Brooke was the complete player at the back of the scrum. Despite the presence of All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick in the Blues squad, it was Brooke who donned the captains armband for the Blues two victories in 1996 and 1997.

 
7: Richie McCaw (Crusaders)

The undisputed GOAT of openside flankers in New Zealand rugby history, Richie McCaw enjoyed four Investec Super Rugby titles during his 14-year tenure with the Crusaders. Three of the four titles were secured while McCaw was captain, making him the most successful captain in Super Rugby history alongside Crusaders alumni Todd Blackadder.

 

6: George Smith (Brumbies, Reds)

If Richie McCaw is the GOAT for New Zealand rugby, George Smith is not far off for Australia. The versatile loose forward played most of his career in the seven jersey but comes into this line-up on the blindside flank to complement McCaw. Smith’s longevity in Super Rugby is incredible. He played his first game for the Brumbies in 1999 and his last for the Reds in 2018. A breakdown specialist, Smith was named Australian Super Rugby player of the year four years in a row beyween 2006 and 2009. Over the course of his nearly 20-year career, Smith captured two Super Rugby titles and crossed for 20 tries.

 

5: Radike Samo (Brumbies, Reds, Rebels)

With three Investec Super Rugby titles to his name (two for the Brumbies and one for the Reds), Samo has won more titles than any other Australian player in history. The Fijian-born star began his Super Rugby career in the second row for the Brumbies where he featured in their 2001 and 2004 grand final triumphs. After five years out of Super Rugby, Samo returned to lift another title at the age of 35 for the Reds. Samo played predominately at No.8 for the Reds and his form was so strong that he earned a call-up to the Wallabies for that year’s Tri-Nations tournament.

4: Todd Blackadder - Captain (Crusaders)

The Crusaders dynasty might not exist if it weren’t for the influence of lock Todd Blackadder. After finishing dead last in the inaugural season of Super Rugby, Blackadder played a key role in turning the Crusaders fortunes around and leading them to victories in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Richie McCaw went on to match Blackadder’s record of three titles as captain, but Blackadder gets the nod to skipper this team and partner the ridiculously skilled Radike Samo in the second row.

 

3: Sekope Kepu (Waratahs)

A fine scrummager and mobile ball carrier, Sekope Kepu was regarded as one of the finest front rowers in Super Rugby during his time with the Waratahs from 2009-2019. The former New Zealand Under 21 representative was a key cog in the Waratahs 2014 title success and enjoyed a tough contest with Crusaders legend Wyatt Crockett in the final that year won 33-32 by the Waratahs.

 

2: Dane Coles (Hurricanes)

A fixture in the Hurricanes to this day since his debut in 2009, Coles epitomises what Hurricanes rugby is all about – pride, fearlessness, passion, and confidence. The Kapiti-born hooker was captain of the Hurricanes when they achieved their maiden title victory in 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2020.

 

1: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)

The man known as ‘Croc-zilla’ became the first player in Super Rugby history to achieve 200 appearances during his last season with the Crusaders in a 2018. A rock-solid presence at set piece and tireless around the park, Crockett quickly became an essential member of the Crusaders since his debut in 2006 and was rewarded with two title victories in his final two seasons with the club.

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