Best of the rest XV
Gareth Evans names a skysports XV of players who will be missing from this year's World Cup.
By Gareth Evans. Last Updated: September 2, 2011 10:26am
With the Rugby World Cup only just over a week away, there is a dearth of talent that will not be limbering up for the start of the tournament.
Players ruling themselves out of contention, injuries, and some tough decisions made by various international coaching set ups, have ensured that the quality of talent left at home is palpable.
Skysports.com takes a look at the Rugby World Cup best of the rest XV.
15 Isa Nacewa (Fiji)
Nacewa was nothing short of outstanding last season for Leinster last season. Against Leicester in the Heineken Cup especially, he proved he is a match winner and a man for the big stage. His consistent non-selection for Fiji is perplexing, but this time around he chose to prioritise his family over playing for Fiji at the World Cup. Nacewa's versatility, kicking game and all round vision would have made him a huge threat for Fiji.
14 Hosea Gear (New Zealand)
At almost 16 stones, Hosea Gear possesses huge amounts of power for a winger. Originally behind Cory Jane in the pecking order, he had a huge impact in the 2010 autumn internationals scoring against England, Scotland and Wales. A decent showing in the Super XV followed and one would have assumed he would have been selected for the Rugby World Cup, but Graham Henry chose to stick with Jane. Henry's decision to leave him out is indicative of the Kiwis strength in depth on the wing.
13 Robbie Fruean (New Zealand)
The centres were another hotly contested area for the Kiwis, with Fruean not really getting a look in. His partnership with Sonny Bill Williams at the Crusaders has been effective this season and saw Fruean finish the season with six tries to his name. He has decent hands, the pace of a wing and is physical in both attack and defence. His occasional organisational lapses, as well as Conrad Smith being arguably the world's best 13, ultimately cost him his place.
12 Matt Giteau (Australia)
Probably the most high-profile non-selection is that of Matt Giteau. He hasn't had the greatest of Super Rugby seasons, but his 92 caps of experience, combined with Australia's lack of other options in the 12 shirt, should have seen him selected.
11 Rene Ranger (New Zealand)
After a superb season for the Auckland Blues, Ranger's 8 tries in Super Rugby were still not enough to see him selected for the All Blacks. Blessed with searing pace and capable of the exceptional, Ranger is also renowned for his punishing defence. He would have walked into most international sides, but the Kiwis have an embarrassment of riches on the wing.
10 Nick Evans (New Zealand)
Evans' speed, vision, skills and ability to perform in high pressure situations make him still arguably the second-best Kiwi fly-half, behind Dan Carter. By playing for Harlequins, Evans has effectively ruled himself out of international selection, but he is still an exceptionally talented fly-half who continues to dominate the Aviva Premiership.
9 Byron Kelleher (New Zealand)
He may not be the force he once was, but he is still arguably the best Kiwi scrum-half. The nine position is one of the areas where the All Blacks are relatively weak and the inclusion of Kelleher, were he available for selection, would take some of the decision making pressure off Dan Carter. He is not an orthodox scrum half, but his power and dynamism around the break down still make him a huge threat.
1 Sylvain Marconnet (France)
Marconnet has been capped 84 times by France and has arguably been their most consistent scrummager over the last decade. At 34, he may not have the impact that he once had in the loose, but his destruction of Martin Castrogiovanni in this year's RBS Six Nations was one of the few high points for France. His experience and scrummaging ability should have been enough to see him make the French World Cup squad, but, as ever, competition for front row places is strong in France.
2 Schalk Brits (South Africa)
Plying his trade in England is an automatic disadvantage in terms of international selection, but Brits was undoubtedly one of the stand out forwards in last season's Aviva Premiership. His loose play resembles that of an international centre and he certainly could have added some dynamism to the Springbok pack. The odds, however, were always stacked against Brits, who has Bismarck du Plessis, arguably the world's best hooker, and John Smit, the Springbok captain, ahead of him in the pecking order.
3 Carl Hayman (New Zealand)
Carl Hayman is still regarded by many as the best tighthead in world rugby. Since his move to Europe, Hayman has continued to underline his value, firstly with Newcastle and then in Toulon. Technically, Hayman has a perfect scrummaging technique and rarely takes a backwards step.
4 Andries Bekker (South Africa)
Bekker had a superb season for the Stormers and looked set to comfortably make Peter de Villiers' Rugby World Cup squad. Although behind Matfield and Botha in the pecking order, he would have been a more than welcome addition to the squad if he had not sustained an ankle injury that has subsequently kept him out of the competition. His size at the lineout would have been beneficial, but his pace and loose work would have added an extra dimension to the Springbok pack off the bench.
5 Mouritz Botha (England)
Botha had a stand out season for Saracens in last year's Aviva Premiership and was one of the most influential players in their pack. A workhorse in the tight and a powerful scrummager, we have only seen glimpses of him for England Saxons and in the World Cup warm ups, but he impressed on each occasion. In the end, Martin Johnson opted for the experience of Simon Shaw, but Botha could potentially have added that extra bit of energy that England will need off the bench in New Zealand.
6 Liam Messam (New Zealand)
Messam is versatile and that is potentially one of the reasons he missed out on World Cup selection. He is not quite big enough to make an impact as an international No.8 and there are better 6s in the All Black squad. Graham Henry eventually chose to take Adam Thomson as his utility back row player, but Messam certainly has value to add to any international team from the blindside position. He has great hands, turns over his fair share of ball and has a huge work rate.
7 Martyn Williams (Wales)
More than a few eyebrows were raised at the non-selection of Williams, not least because it leaves Wales with only one recognised 7s in their Rugby World Cup squad. Williams' 99 caps would have bought invaluable experience to the Welsh squad, and even at 35 he still makes an impact at the breakdown.
8 Sebastien Chabal (France)
He may not have covered himself in glory during the 2011 Six Nations, and he wouldn't have started ahead of Imanol Harinordoquy, but Chabal's ball carrying impact off the bench, as well as his versatility, would have made him a threat in New Zealand.