Published 11/03/2011 | 05:00
THE NEW Size matters
Jon Davies & Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Roberts has the physique to make an excellent blind-side flanker, while Davies has the build of a heavyweight boxer and, despite his tree-trunk thighs, can shift it a bit also. Handling skills of both players are developing to match their muscle.
Yannick Jauzion & Aurelien Rougerie (France)
Having two 6' 4" centres carries considerable advantages, particularly when they have the pace and footballing nous of these Frenchmen. Their height also turns the Garryowen-chase into an effective offensive tool -- as Ireland discovered last month.
Shontayne Hape & Mike
A right pair of bruisers. Having a carthorse like Tindall in the jersey once graced by Jeremy Guscott grates a bit, but there is no doubting the physical impact of England's unlikely duo. Their greatest strength is creating space for a back three packed with finishing menace.
Rapier and bludgeon
Tim Horan & Jason Little (Australia)
One of the best centre partnerships in rugby history. Horan was squat, fast and powerful, while Little was graceful and lithe outside him. Inspirational in Australia's 1991 World Cup win and still going strong when they won their second title eight years later.
Will Carling & Jeremy Guscott (England)
Carling, rather unfairly, became something of a posh-boy caricature, but he was a fantastic rugby player who would have deservedly captained the Lions, but for political manoeuvring. Strong on the ball and in the tackle, Carling formed a superb partnership with Guscott, who was, quite simply, an artist at outside-centre.
Franck Mesnel & Philippe
A classic combination. Mesnel spent the majority of his early international career at out-half, but became Sella's regular partner from 1990 with devastating success. Mesnel could kick, pass and bust tackles, while Sella was the glider extraordinaire.
Rob Henderson & Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland and Lions)
Henderson was an old-fashioned crash-ball No 12, who dovetailed beautifully with O'Driscoll on the Lions tour to Australia in 2001. O'Driscoll knew how to play off his partner's directness, swooping in once the hole had been created.
. . AND THE IDEAL
Ma'a Nonu/Sonny Bill Williams/
Conrad Smith (New Zealand)
The All Blacks appear to have everything covered in a mixture of old and new. Nonu and Williams have the bulk and off-loading skills (Nonu has come on hugely in this regard), while Smith provides the cerebrals and a touch of class at No 13.