The Ospreys have teamed up with the Evening Post to find the ultimate Ospreys XV "â¬" the all-time dream team based on players who have represented clubs within Ospreylia throughout the many golden (and not"â¬"so golden) eras of Welsh rugby.
Later this month, the Post will be asking supporters to select their own personal all time best Ospreys side, and the individual whose team is judged the ultimate Ospreys dream-team by our panel of experts will win VIP hospitality for the first home Magners League fixture of the season against Llanelli Scarlets and a pair of season-tickets. Four other entries will be drawn at random to win a pair of season tickets.
To help you decide, we have turned to three rugby legends from the region to select their own dream team, which will be revealed over the next three weeks before you have a chance to pick your own. This week it"â¬â¢s the turn of former Neath captain Jonathan Davies, one of the most skilful rugby players ever produced in Wales. Capped by his country on 32 occasions, he marked his international debut with a try-scoring man-of-the match performance against England, before going to play an integral role as Wales finished in third place at the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987. The following year, Wales won their first Triple Crown in nine years with Davies at the helm, before he switched codes and headed north to Widnes. A huge success in rugby league, he led Wales to their best ever World Cup campaign, losing to England in the semi-finals in 1995 and he also represented Great Britain before returning to Wales, and union, the following year. He is now one of the most respected media pundits in the country, much in demand for his views on both codes. Here he reveals his selection:
"â¬ÅLooking at the list of players to have come from clubs in the region over the years, one thing is abundantly clear. The region is, and always has been, a hotbed of rugby talent, and has arguably developed more players for Wales than anywhere else. It is also clear, that when you look at the current Ospreys squad, and the Wales squad, that this remains the case. It"â¬â¢s not been easy selecting my side, and I could quite easily have named a second and third team without any problem, but here is my dream team, which I think would be an exciting side to watch in action, full of attacking flair.
"â¬ÅAt full-back, I"â¬â¢ve got to go with JPR WILLIAMS, a true all time world rugby legend. I grew up watching him playing a key role in the successful side of the seventies; he really was an amazing player who had it all.
"â¬ÅOn the wing, its IEUAN EVANS and GARETH THOMAS, Wales"â¬â¢ top two try scorers of all time. It was a difficult position to pick, with strong candidates like Shane, JJ and Elgan Rees, but I went for two players that I"â¬â¢ve played a lot of rugby with. A lot of people will be surprised by Ieuan"â¬â¢s inclusion, but he played a couple of games for Neath alongside me as a youngster, scoring a try against Bath, and although it may be a little controversial, I feel that when you have someone with his track record available to you, you have to pick him. A three time British Lion, a Five Nations winning captain and deadly with ball in hand. As for Alfie, his record speaks for itself. His power, pace and leadership qualities are without comparison.
"â¬ÅIn the centre, I think it"â¬â¢s always best to stick with a tried and trusted partnership, so I"â¬â¢ve gone for ALLAN BATEMAN and SCOTT GIBBS. A dynamic and physical pairing who complimented each other well for Wales and who both received a Lions call-up. I played with Allan for Wales and for Warrington and I know that he is totally underrated, whilst Scott shone for Swansea, Wales and the Lions for many years, developing a fierce reputation.
"â¬ÅJAMES HOOK is my choice at fly-half. He may only be young, but he is a very talented player with a bright future ahead of him. He"â¬â¢s on top of his game at the moment, he kicks well, runs well and he always seems to have time one the ball. He"â¬â¢s the type of player who gets people out of their seats.
"â¬ÅROB HOWLEY is my scrum-half, just edging out Robert Jones because of his attacking and try scoring ability. It was a very close run thing, but Rob"â¬â¢s ability to take advantage of the smallest gap and convert the slightest opportunity sees him take it.
"â¬ÅAsking me about the front row is asking me to comment on something I"â¬â¢ve never experienced. It"â¬â¢s a jungle in there, survival of the fittest, so I"â¬â¢m going for two props that seemed to survive better than most, GLYN SHAW and DAI YOUNG. They were both great scrummagers, who were very much ahead of their time, in that they are like modern day props in that they were both mobile and technically good ball carriers.
"â¬ÅThere are a lot of strong candidates at hooker, but my choice is BILLY JAMES. He spent most of his career at Aberavon, and because they aren"â¬â¢t the most glamorous of sides he does tend to be under-rated as a player. He was their catalyst, always leading from the front, something he also did very well for Wales.
"â¬ÅThe second row picks itself really, it has to be ALLAN MARTIN and GEOFF WHEEL. Their contribution for Wales, and what they achieved playing together speaks for itself in terms of success. As a combination, they have no equal.
"â¬ÅIn the back-row, I"â¬â¢ve gone for PAUL MORIARTY, COLIN CHARVIS and MERVYN DAVIES, three great footballers, all of whom were, or are, big, strong and mobile, attack minded players, capable of doing the hard work needed to provide the platform for the backs to create, and equally capable of stopping the opposition. Importantly, they are all inspirational players who would lead by example."â¬Â
JONATHAN DAVIES"â¬â¢ DREAM TEAM
15 JPR Williams (Bridgend)
14 Ieuan Evans (Neath)
13 Allan Bateman (Maesteg/Neath)
12 Scott Gibbs (Neath/Swansea/Ospreys
11 Gareth Thomas (Bridgend)
10 James Hook (Neath/Ospreys)
9 Rob Howley (Bridgend)
1 Glyn Shaw (Neath)
2 Billy James (Aberavon/Swansea)
3 Dai Young (Swansea)
4 Allan Martin (Aberavon)
5 Geoff Wheel (Swansea)
6 Paul Moriarty (Swansea)
7 Colin Charvis (Swansea)
8 Mervyn Davies (Swansea)