Nigel Owens, a well-known whistleblower, was speaking to Wales Online when he was asked who the “hardest player” he had ever refereed during his illustrious career was.
3. Paul O’Connell (Ireland)
“Quite simply he was just an exceptional leader. I have been in charge of games where he pretty much carried his team, whether it was Munster or Ireland, almost on his back and onto victory. Never took a backward step, stood tall and was a man others would follow.”
2. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
“A man of few words, he does his talking on the field with his actions. Not only is he a brilliant player and a very good captain but I don’t think I have reffed a match where he hasn’t given absolutely everything. He’s been playing at lock for 10 years and remains one of the first names on the Wales team-sheet, which says everything about his ability.”
1. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
“Capped 148 times by New Zealand, despite playing in the most attritional of positions, where every game he would be throwing himself in harm’s way, perhaps by locking himself over possession and soaking up the attention of immensely powerful forwards who would do everything they could to wipe him off the ball. Now that’s what I would call a genuine hard man!”