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Crusaders dominate Mauger's dream team

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Lynn McConnell     24 Nov 2015     Getty Images

Now coaching Leicester in England's Premiership, Mauger named his side for The Rugby Paper.

However, there are some surprises in his selection with players like lock Chris Jack, flanker and captain Reuben Thorne and No.8 Kieran Read missing out.

One Australian made the side, Matt Burke. He was selected at centre in spite of having played much of his Test rugby at fullback. Mauger said he had a lot of midfield tussles with Burke who had a 'lovely skill set'. Brian O'Driscoll came close to consideration as well.

Mauger said he preferred Todd Blackadder as his lock over Jack because of his ability to inspire people around him.

Crusaders props Greg Feek and Greg Somerville joined with retiring All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu in Mauger's front row.

Somerville was the most athletic tighthead prop Mauger had played with, he scrummaged well and was handy around the field and just edged Carl Hayman, he said.

As for Mealamu, Mauger said: "I played with him in his early days just after he moved from the back-row. Could have played in the midfield if he was just a little faster. Loved his attitude."

Norm Maxwell was his second lock because he had no respect for his body and was so tough at the breakdown.

Richie McCaw was no surprise on the flank while Jerry Collins was the blindside option.

"Jerry was so intimidating. When we had to get tough up front, especially against a Northern Hemisphere side, he was the guy to go to."

Mose Tuiali'i was Mauger's option at No.8. He was the best ball-playing No.8 he had played with and had an ability to create opportunities for people around him.

The competitive Justin Marshall won his choice at halfback while the first five-eighths choice went to Dan Carter, ahead of Andrew Mehrtens and Stephen Larkham.

"Dan gets it because he is the most rounded fly-half. At his best, he can control the game like no other. Andrew was the smartest and saw a gap before anybody else. Stephen was such a threat ball in hand and kept me on my toes," Mauger said.

The late Jonah Lomu was his left wing. Mauger said he played his first Test next to Lomu who had made him look good.

Tana Umaga won his vote for second five-eighths. "He always had a physical presence on the field. A good leader as well."

Doug Howlett just edged Rico Gear on the right wing which was down to his consistency over a longer period.

"A great try-scoring record but his defence was very solid too. Great game awareness and very smart," he said.

Leon MacDonald was Mauger's choice at fullback because of his all-round game and how rarely he made mistakes.