With the Rugby World Cup in Japan a little over four months away, we put it to our panel to name the ultimate All Blacks World Cup XV. There were, of course, a few rules. They had to pick a player based on their performance in an individual World Cup - so it's Richie McCaw from the 2011 World Cup vs Richie McCaw from the 2015 World Cup (or Michael Jones from the inaugural tournament). Here are the surprising results...
1) Tony Woodcock - 2011
A rock in the scrum, and diamond in the lineout when he scored a set-move try which put New Zealand on the path to victory in the Eden Park final. The All Blacks were nervous about using the tricky-dicky move but it worked perfectly and Woodcock charged past French prop Nicolas Mas, and into legend.
Also considered: Steve McDowall - 1987, Craig Dowd - 1991
2) Sean Fitzpatrick - 1987
The 1986 "Baby Black" took over in the No. 2 jersey when intended captain Andy Dalton was forced out of the tournament by a hamstring injury suffered in training. "Fitzy" was dynamic, the 1987 victory confirming that New Zealand had uncovered a future great.
Also considered: Keven Mealamu - 2011, Dane Coles - 2015
3) Owen Franks - 2011
An improving All Black scrum, with Franks the cornerstone, was pivotal in the 2011 victory although part of a fading pack in final. Franks was particularly strong around the field in the semifinal win over Australia, where he even cut down flying halfback Will Genia.
Also considered: Olo Brown - 1995
4) Brodie Retallick - 2015
Simply confirmed he was the best lock in the world during the 2015 victory and an all-time great. Had a massive final where key Wallaby Matt Giteau was forced off early, after trying to tackle the big man. Started the quarter-final rout of France with an early charge-down try. Took care of highly regarded 'Bok locks in the semifinal.
Also considered: Brad Thorn - 2011, Robin Brooke - 1995
5) Sam Whitelock - 2015
Had a massive tournament and final, where he excelled in the lineouts. Also the pick of the All Black forwards in a nailbiting, hard-fought semifinal victory over South Africa and their tough pack. That lineout steal against Victor Matfield won't be forgotten for a long time.
Patrick McKendry: Tone deaf and out of touch - Super Rugby's latest problem
Big guns return as Blues seek quick response against Hurricanes
Also considered: Gary Whetton - 1987
6) Jerome Kaino - 2011
Hard to ignore what he achieved over two tournaments, 2011 and 2015, although we've picked out the first. Ironically, Kaino and everyone else was overshadowed by an extraordinary performance from French loose forward and captain Thierry Dusautoir in the final. But that should never overshadow the overall Kaino impact.
Also considered: Alan Whetton - 1987
7) Richie McCaw - 2011
Never flinched, despite playing the tournament on a broken foot while dealing with the weight of a rugby-mad nation desperate for the first World Cup victory since 1987. Survived, even thrived, on painkillers, adrenaline and willpower as someone put it. It takes something very special to keep Michael Jones out of this team, and McCaw is just that.
Also considered: Michael Jones - 1987, Josh Kronfeld - 1995, Richie McCaw - 2015, Richie McCaw - 2007
8) Kieran Read - 2011
Got better and better, despite dealing with an ankle injury, and produced a memorable hit on Rocky Elsom in semifinal crushing of Australia. Terrific in a tough final against France. The Read legend would only grow over the next couple of years, but his 2011 tournament will not be forgotten.
Also considered: Zinzan Brooke - 1995, Wayne Shelford - 1987
9) David Kirk - 1987
Probably underrated, because his All Blacks career was so brief. But this All Black team was close to perfect, and Kirk was a superb 11th-hour captain and halfback in the centre of it all. The face which re-launched the battered All Black brand, after South Africa-associated nightmares earlier in the decade.
Also considered: Graeme Bachop - 1995, Piri Weepu - 2011, Aaron Smith - 2015
10) Dan Carter - 2015
It's hard to go past the three straight knockout performances by Carter at the 2015 World Cup as one of the individual better runs at the history of the tournament. His kicking, from tee and hand, was near perfect across the final three games. Sweet redemption after suffering back-to-back injury woes in 2007 and 2011.
Also considered: Grant Fox - 1987, Andrew Mehrtens - 1995
11) Jonah Lomu - 1995
The great man had two outstanding World Cups, but his pummelling of England in the 1995 semifinal is an iconic moment in world sport, not just rugby. That Lomu never won a World Cup is a sporting tragedy.
Also considered: Julian Savea - 2015
12) Ma'a Nonu - 2015
Nonu has a fearsome package of power and finesse and was at the top of his game at the 2015 World Cup. He straightened the line like no other midfield back in world rugby and his bludgeoning ability added to recycling or offloads making him a devastating component for the All Blacks. His try in the opening stages of the 2015 final second half was the moment a great relief for All Blacks fans (before the Wallabies launched a comeback). He collected an offload near halfway to thread through the initial tackles, swerve past Kurtley Beale and outgun Drew Mitchell to the line. It will rank up there as one of the better World Cup final tries.
Also considered: Walter Little - 1995
13) Joe Stanley - 1987
The Auckland truckie was a rock in a brilliant but potentially fragile '87 backline. "Smokin' Joe" famously avoided the media with the same devotion he smashed opponents, delivered simple but superbly timed passes and made surging runs. Also had a knack with support runs. The complete centre.
Also considered: Frank Bunce - 1995, Conrad Smith - 2015
14) John Kirwan - 1987
Kicked the '87 tournament off with a staggering long-range try against Italy. A new breed of giant wing with a tremendous swerve and pace. He embodied a new era of rugby as much as anyone in a fantastic squad.
Also considered: Jeff Wilson - 1995, Nehe Milner-Skudder - 2015
15) Ben Smith - 2015
Ignoring those 10 minutes when he became the first All Black to be yellow-carded in a World Cup final, Ben Smith was near flawless at the 2015 tournament. He was remarkable as always under the high ball, one memorable take among in the quarter-final rout over France where he wrestled the ball away from Louis Picamoles in the lead-up to Julian Savea's famous busting try down the left in Cardiff. His great vision was personified in the closing stages in the final with his chip ahead for the fast-running Beauden Barrett to chase and close out the title.
Also considered: John Gallagher - 1987, Israel Dagg - 2011