Will Greenwood's combined Ireland/England XV is pretty remarkable
And you'd have strong arguments for the Irish players that missed out, too.
Having worked with All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick for well over a decade, Will Greenwood always knew when England were really doing well.
The former New Zealand captain has often been asked to pick combined teams and, whenever the All Blacks are involved, he'd be at a stretch to leave more than two out. They were that good, in Fitzpatrick's mind and the minds of many.
Greenwood can still recall the pride he felt, back in 2013, when Fitzpatrick was tasked to pick a combined New Zealand and England team and selected six English players.
This time out, in January 2019, it was Greenwood being asked to make a combined XV between Eddie Jones' England squad and Ireland, the reigning Grand Slam champs. On 'The Will Greenwood Podcast', on Sky Sports, Rupert Cox asked the former England and Lions centre for his best XV.
12 Irish players and three English. Pretty emphatic.
Here were some of Greenwood's big calls:
TADHG FURLONG vs. KYLE SINCKLER
"Furlong and Kyle Sinckler, I mean they were 1 and 2 for the Lions, weren't they? You've got to stick with Furlong but you're having the debate... you can't just dismiss it off-hand."
TONER/HENDERSON vs. MARO ITOJE
"James Ryan has to start and [with him]... it's so difficult. I can't envisage going into a game without Maro Itoje. I'm gutted to leave out Joe Launchbury but Maro gets in."
No mention of Devin Toner or Iain Henderson here.
CJ STANDER vs. BILLY VUNIPOLA
"If Billy has 8 months getting fit [ahead of the World Cup], then you'd pick Billy. Right now, in Dublin, I'd rather have CJ Stander."
JOHNNY SEXTON vs. OWEN FARRELL
"I would have a debate about Sexton, Farrell but I understand that I would lose that debate... I think I would come down with Sexton myself."
AKI/HENSHAW vs. BEN TE'O
"I think you could get an Englishman in there at the moment, Ben Te'o... Well, Henshaw hasn't played [since November]."
KEITH EARLS vs. JONNY MAY
"Maybe you'd get Jonny May in there ahead of Earls, because of his try-scoring record; his ratio."
Greenwood has a point here - May has 18 tries in 40 Tests [45% scoring ratio] while Earls has 27 in 72 [37.5%].
GREENWOOD'S COMBINED IRELAND/ENGLAND XV
12 Irish players end up making the 'Best XV'. Pretty remarkable stuff.
Not a bad team, in fairness.
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