Jake White backs O'Brien

Getty Images     22 Dec 2010     Getty Images

O'Brien was accused of being in cahoots with All Blacks forward coach Steve Hansen and scrum guru Mike Cron over scrummaging interpretations by former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer recently.

White was asked on a South African rugby website if there was cause for concern over Dwyer's accusation.

White responded: "I know Paddy well and he's one of the most transparent guys around.

"I remember at the 1999 World Cup when France played Fiji, Paddy refereed the match and his mistakes actually cost Fiji.

"France went on to reach the final after famously beating New Zealand in the semi-final.

"If he really had bias, as a New Zealander he would have preferred to see the All Blacks face Fiji, but made the calls and lived with them.

"He's definitely not biased," White said, "he's just an open rugby guy."

White said O'Brien also been involved in the World Cup four years ago when South Africa won, under White. He asked why there was suddenly paranoia around him from a South Africa perspective?

"If New Zealand use him as a sounding board, it would be just like us using Andrew Watson who officiated in two World Cup finals and has great experience," he said.

Meanwhile, Nick Pearce of The Daily Telegraph listed the Black Ferns as the team of the year in his review of the rugby year in the London newspaper.

"The All Blacks lost only one Test and Lithuania set a new [sic] world record for consecutive Test wins, but the Black Ferns showed a steely edge that deserves recognition. England had the home crowd and the momentum, but the Ferns refused to roll over and won yet another WRWC [Women's Rugby World Cup]."

He also rated Mils Muliaina as his player of the year.

"Richie McCaw may have won the IRF's top gong but for me the All Blacks fullback was more of an example of consistent quality. Think how reassuring it must be to have him at the top of every team-sheet."

And in their review of the 10 best tries of the year, Muliaina's try, courtesy of wing Cory Jane's infield kick, makes the list at No.7 while Israel Dagg's solo effort against South Africa at Westpac Stadium was at No.5.