Here is my pick of the best XV of 2011. These are my favourite players of their position throughout the entire of 2011 from all domestic championships to Six/Tri nations to the RWC.
Was always devastating in the scrum. Makes no difference whether it's for
Leicester or he's a real weapon in the tight spaces. Italy
2. Mahonri Schwalger
Hugely passionate. I went to two
Samoa games this year and it was a great atmosphere. They really play for the fans and this guy leads from the front.
3. Cian Healy
Most notable performance for me was the RWC clash with
. Very powerful in the scrum and very mature for such a young age. Australia
4. James Horwill
Hugely influential during the Red's triumphant Super 15 season and transferred this leadership to captain his country. Thrown in at the deep end on the eve of the championship yet handled the huge responsibility and honour as if he'd been doing it years.
5. Brad Thorn
I literally bumped into him in NZ, a huge guy with a huge presence. 36 years old yet still covering the yards. A real work horse for NZ.
6. Jerome Kaino
Loved watching him play for the Blues. During the RWC was immensely physical smashing every tackle. Carried this physicality through the whole 80 minutes of every game.
7. Sam Warburton
Another new captain of 2011. Very mature and lead from the front. Really summed up this
approach, young, fresh and fit - very fit. Very talented and gets my vote for the Lion's captaincy. Wales
8. Sergio Parisse
9. Will Genia
Instrumental for both the Reds and the Wallabies. A key play maker and sensible decision maker. Really steers his forwards and puts his back line in the right position. Indispensable to
10. Quade Cooper.
I don't like the word 'Mercurial', I prefer unpredictable - admittedly sometimes even for his own team! I absolutely love watching him play. He is so exciting to watch and I think that's great for the modern game. He's the back line wizard and his partnership with Genia steered the Reds to victory. Not a great RWC to remember but his Reds and Tri Nations championships were fantastic.
11. George North
Another 'freak' like Lomu. A huge (literally) contrast to Shane Williams style but that doesn't stop him finding the try line. Jumped from regional rugby to International and for someone 19 years old at the time handled it with ease. A huge future ahead.
12. Jamie Roberts
A very powerful centre. Always guaranteed to break the gain line. I went to see him play at the Wales/Samoa RWC match and he flattened some of the Samoan back line, not something that is easily done.
13. Manu Tuilagi
Was one of those 'where has he been all this time' kind of players. Just what
needed fast, powerful and a finisher. Has had some discipline issues but I would assume/hope they will get stop as he gets older. England
14. Chris Ashton
One of the hugely successful code converts. Already a prolific try scorer. Top try scorer in both the Six Nations and RWC says it all. Saw him play against
in this years Six Nations and perform his ' Swallow Dive' - another player I enjoy watching. Italy
15. Kurtley Beale
Such a threat to opposition in both International and Super 15. Constantly looking to attack. Very safe under the high ball and always backs himself when chasing his own kick.
missed him during his injury at the RWC. Australia
For many it was a very tight to call. 2011 was such a great year for rugby with so much class on display. This s my best of the rest: