The greatest ever All Blacks 1st XV of Samoan descent
OPINION: England Rugby coach Eddie Jones once referred to the All Blacks as the most dominant team in the history of sport, and part of that can be attributed to the athleticism and joie de vivre that the Polynesian players add to the team.
by Stacey Tereanu I 15 May 2020
The boys at the Counter Ruck decided to focus on the Samoan influence on the All Blacks to come up with the greatest All Blacks XV of Samoan descent.
Before we go into the team, I will say this was no easy task. Tana Umaga, the first Samoan to captain New Zealand and one of the All Blacks best leaders can’t make this team, nor was there a spot for All Black centurion Mills Muliaina. However, the team that was finalised would be good enough to compete with any test side in history.
1: Charlie Faumuina
Faumuina played 50 tests for the All Blacks was a World Cup winner in 2015. His ball skills and footwork belied his 127kg frame.
Honourable mentions: John Afoa and Neemia Tialata
2: Kevin Mealamu
There wasn’t much debate in the hooking role for this team. Mealamu’s 132 tests make him the second most capped All Black of all time, behind only the talismanic Richie McCaw.
3: Olo Brown
Set Piece powerhouse Brown was the cornerstone of the All Black pack through the 1990's, accumulating 56 test caps. Fellow propping legends Os Du Randt and Jason Leonard regarded Brown as the best tight head they ever scrummaged against.
4 Patrick Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu typifies the physicality of the modern lock and has shown great leadership abilities by captaining Auckland at provincial level and the Blues at Super Rugby level. His 30 tests make him the most capped Samoan All Black lock ever.
5: Ross Filipo.
Lock is one position where there wasn’t a lot of depth of options, but Filipo adds mobility to the second row and is the perfect foil for Tuipulotu.
6: Jerry Collins
The late Jerry Collins is widely recognised as one of the most fearsome defenders in rugby history. A veteran of 48 tests including 3 as captain, his uncompromising style is a natural fit for the blindside jersey.
Honourable mention: Jerome Kaino
7: Sir Michael Jones
The great Sir Michael Jones revolutionised the 7 jersey with his athleticism. He accrued 55 tests for the All Blacks over a 12-year span and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2003.
Honourable mention: Josh Kronfeld
8: Rodney So’oialo
The Wellingtonian number 8 played fullback in his high school days 7s for New Zealand. That speed and dynamism allowed him to accrue 62 tests for the All Blacks.
9: Graeme Bachop
A standout at the 1995 world cup, Bachop was one of the best passers the All Blacks have ever had.
10: Stephen Bachop
The older brother of halfback Graeme, Stephen Bachop was part of the infamous Otago wins against the British and Irish Lions in 1993 and Springboks in 1994.
11: Julian Savea
Nicknamed “The Bus” for his size strength, Savea was the prototypical power wing. His 46 tries in 54 tests demonstrate his finishing abilities at the highest level.
12: Ma’a Nonu
103 tests across 13 seasons a key figure in the World Cup wins of 2011 & 2015. Nonu is arguably the greatest 12 the All Blacks have ever produced.
13: Frank Bunce
Probably the toughest position to select when you consider who misses out, Bunce was the complete centre in both attack and defence.
Honourable mentions: Tana Umaga, Anton Lienert Brown, Joe Stanley.
14: BG Williams
The original Polynesian power wing, Williams terrorised defences through the 1970s. He was a hero to young Samoans growing up in that period and he is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Samoan rugby in New Zealand.
15: Christian Cullen
One of the best attacking fullbacks in rugby history, the “Paekakariki Express” was a sight to behold in full flight. He scored over 150 tries across his first class career in New Zealand.
Honourable mention: Mills Muliaina.