Useful team from best of departed players

Twelve teams have gone home. But among the also-rans, there was some pretty good talent. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn looks at a World Cup side made up of departed players.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
Fullback: Shaun Webb (Japan) looked good but also threw in plenty of bloopers. Andrea Maso (Italy) was assured but suffered from a lack of enterprise from those around him. Chrysander Botha (Namibia) showed glimpses of talent. Paul Williams (Samoa) blotted his reputation by getting sent off against South Africa but is a talented runner and rock solid on defence, and also has a handy kick on him.

Wings: Speedy American Takudwza Ngwenya never really got many chances but was impressive when he got the ball.

Luke McLean (Italy) tried hard, while Hirotoki Onozawa (Japan) was lively. Fetu'u Vainikolo (Tonga) showed why he was released by Otago, although he scored a good try against the Japanese. Sean Lamont (Scotland) knocked over a few bodies. He was hardly the biggest winger at the tournament but Max Evans (Scotland) never took a backward step. The full quality of Vasily Artemyeu (Russia) would be clear if he was in a better side.

Centre: There were precious few players of creation in the midfield. Few, make that none, had the ability to put players into gaps. Canadian centre DTH van der Merwe was a hard runner, and made a couple of scorching breaks but went off injured early against the All Blacks. Japanese centre Alisi Tupuailai ran hard but had hands like feet. Highlander Siale Puitau (Tonga) looked the goods throughout and had a barnstormer against the brittle French.

Second five-eighth: There were plenty of dump trucks in the midfield. Ryan Nicholas (Japan) was an obvious example. Tough runner but about as creative as a first-night loser on Masterchef.

The best of a rather average bunch was Samoan bad boy Elita Sapolu Fuimano, who could at least pass.

James Arlidge
James Arlidge
First five-eighth: There were many who looked nice: Merab Kvirikashvili (Georgia), Roland Sunila (USA) and even Dan Parks (Scotland), who finally turned it on against England. But the best was probably another former Highlander, James Arlidge (Japan). Outstanding against France.

Halfback: Florin Surugiu (Romania), Irakli Abuseridze (Georgia) and Eugene Jantjies (Namibia) looked good. The best two were Taniela Moa (Tonga) and Kahn Fotuali'i (Samoa). Both were rumoured to be in the All Black frame at one stage and it is not hard to see why.

No 8: Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) scored a great try against England and never went backwards while Kelly Brown (Scotland) was full of fire. Sergio Parisse (Italy) would not disgrace any side and has all the skills for his position.

Todd Clever
Todd Clever
Flankers: All of the Canadians were rugged and never went backwards. Same with the Samoans. Veteran Mauro Bergamasco (Italy) never threw in the towel, while Namibian captain Jacques Burger was consistently good. Michael Leitch (Japan) was another stand-out.

Todd Clever (USA) was all over the paddock and his work rate never stopped. Terrible haircut, though. Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia) was a beast on both attack and defence, seemingly taking on the English pack, and beating them, at will.

Locks: Cristian Petre (Romania) was a tough worker and lively around the paddock, while Hayden Smith (USA) worked hard. Richie Gray (Scotland) has all the attributes but lacks polish.

Jamie Cudmore (Canada) showed his vast experience and a big improver was Lua Lokotui (Tonga).

Euan Murray
Euan Murray
Props: The Americans and Russians had average scrums, but Georgia, Italy, Scotland and Romania stood tall. Hard to go past Euan Murray (Scotland) and David Kubriashvili (Georgia).

Hookers: Romanian captain Marius Tincu and Ross Ford (Scotland) were good, as was Shota Horie (Japan). He may be well into the veteran stage and is slower than when played for Bay of Plenty, but Aleki Lutui (Tonga) was seldom bettered.


Pool XV
Hepburn's team

Paul Williams (Samoa), Max Evans (Scotland), Siale Piutau (Tonga), Elita Sapula Fuimano (Samoa), Vasily Artemyeu (Russia), James Arlidge (Japan), Kahn Fotuali'i (Samoa), Sergio Parisse (Italy, captain), Todd Clever (United States), Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia), Jamie Cudmore (Canada), Lua Lokotui (Tonga), David Kubriashvili (Georgia), Aleki Lutui (Tonga), Euan Murray (Scotland).

Reserves: Chrysander Botha (Namibia), DTH van der Merwe (Canada), Taniela Moa (Tonga), Michael Leitch (Japan), Luke Thompson (Samoa), Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy), Ross Ford (Scotland).

Note: Only players from teams that did not make the quarterfinals were considered.


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