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Gareth Thomas: My Rugby World Cup Team of the Tournament

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New Zealand's Ben Smith celebrates scoring their first try with Sam Cane (L)

Image credit: Reuters

ByEurosport
04/11/2015 at 08:34 | Updated 04/11/2015 at 15:07

Wales icon Gareth Thomas picks his World Cup team of the tournament for Eurosport: With players from New Zealand, Australia and Argentina unsurprisingly leading the way.

FULL-BACK

15 - Ben Smith (New Zealand)

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I'd definitely go for Smith in this position. He didn't do anything to set the World Cup on fire, but I think he showed a lot of skill, and was always solid and reliable - and that's exactly what you want from your full back.

Santiago Cordero (Argentine), Argentine-Australie, 25 octobre 2015

Image credit: AFP

WINGERS

14 - Santiago Cordero (Argentina)

He was just so dangerous throughout - he must have beaten so many players at this World Cup. And he was just as dangerous against the top teams as he was against the likes of South Africa and New Zealand.

11 - DTH Van der Merwe (Canada)

He was Canada's talisman. To score five tries in the tournament for a team that was struggling is nothing short of incredible.

New Zealand's centre Ma'a Nonu (R) runs with the ball during the final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia

Image credit: AFP

CENTRES

13 - Conrad Smith (New Zealand)

12 - Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand)

These two come as an unbreakable pairing - you can't have Nonu without Smith, you can't have Smith without Nonu - so as much as I'd like to have Vereniki Goneva of Fiji, I'd go with the All Black duo.

Nonu in particular was outstanding, especially in the final but he's been a constant threat. And I think Smith is really the intelligent footballer, and an integral part of the New Zealand team.

Dan Biggar of Wales celebrates kicking a drop goal just before the half time during their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa at Twickenham in London, United Kingdom October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Image credit: Reuters

FLY-HALF

10 - Dan Biggar (Wales)

Yes, Wales went out in the quarter-finals, but I think his contribution to Wales's success was enormous. Given where he's come from, and where he's put himself on the rugby map at this World Cup, he has been phenomenal.

I know people have praised Dan Carter and the other great 10s, but for me Biggar is the one who's really shone. He controlled matches again and again, even when things were close - and that's the mark of a great fly-half.

SCRUM-HALF

9 - Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)

He kicked really well, he led really well, and he kept his side ticking over in a tournament where they were a revelation.

Richie McCaw

Image credit: AFP

BACK ROW

8 - David Pocock (Australia)

7 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

6 - Michael Hooper (Australia)

Pocock was the player of the tournament in my eyes, and I'd go for Hooper as well - and you can't not have McCaw.

What a back row this is. Hooper and Pocock are just so potent together, while Richie McCaw is always outstanding. Forget all the stuff about him cheating - it's a hoary old cliché trotted out by people who don't really understand the rules. McCaw has studied them, knows them as well as any referee, and is a master at playing to them.

SECOND ROW

5 - Leone Nakarawa (Fiji)

4 - Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)

Nakarawa was just outstanding in the matches I saw. His offloading ability and typical Fijian flair was breathtaking - most centres or wingers would give anything for his skills, so to have someone like that playing as a lock is astonishing. He is just such a rugby athlete.

Retallick was also superb: he ran well with the ball, was great in the lineout and a fearsome tackler.

Argentina's Marcos Ayerza celebrates at the Millennium Stadium

Image credit: Reuters

FRONT ROW

1 - Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)

2 - Stephen Moore (Australia)

3 - Ramiro Herrera (Argentina)

The front row isn't exactly my specialty, but those two Argentina props? Oh my God, if anyone can hold a scrum up and do a job of being solid and a presence, it's those two.

As for the hooker, Australia captain Stephen Moore showed extraordinary leadership to get his side through the toughest pool there has ever been at a World Cup. His showing in the match against Wales, for example, showed incredible team management, running down the clock cleverly. He was a huge presence for his team.

TEAM MAKE-UP BY NATION

New Zealand: 4

Australia: 3

Argentina: 3

South Africa: 1

Wales: 1

Fiji: 1

Scotland: 1

Canada: 1

(England: 0)

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