We caught up with Mike Brown to talk about the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge, and who makes his top five full-backs list...
Mike Brown was at Twickenham on Wednesday morning, but not for the announcement of England’s Six Nations squad. He was fulfilling his ambassadorial duties for GB Wheelchair Rugby, who were launching their partnership with BT.
“I love wheelchair rugby for all the same reasons I love rugby,” says Brown. “It’s fast-paced, physical and there’s lots of drama, just like in the able-bodied game.”
As well as some general chit chat about the sport (he’s getting better in the wheelchair himself), we asked Brown who his top five full-backs in world rugby are. Here’s what he had to say…
1. Israel Dagg
“These aren’t in any particular order, but one name that springs to mind is Dagg. He’s shown over a number of years what an all-round game he’s got; he’s got all the skills. He was very good against us in the autumn, and he brings a high level of consistency to the game. He’s one that we’ll keep a close eye on in the planning stage before a match.
2. Willie le Roux
“He’s got a massive box of tricks. He’s very influential and involved in most of the good things that South Africa do. He stood out straight away when I saw him play, he’s classy all over the field and has a lot of infuence in the way South Africa attack.
3. Israel Folau
“Just for the athlete that he is, he’s unbelievable, and another one who played brilliantly well against us in November. I also admire him for the variety of things he’s done in different sports. I’m a big rugby fan as well as playing the game, and I love watching the Super XV, as well as some rugby league and State of Origin. Like I said, Folau is a natural athlete – it’s very frustrating!
4. Ben Smith
“When he switches to full-back, he produces things that other players can’t. On our tour to New Zealand I realised how fortunate the All Blacks are to have two brilliant players in that position. He’s good at counter-attack and his running game is fantastic. Like Dagg, he’s an allrounder.
5. Rob Kearney
“He’s played well for Ireland and the Lions, and I really enjoy the way he plays. He’s great under the high ball and in the way he works around the rucks. I think he plays a similar game to me in the way he runs off people.”
And here’s who he missed out…
“I haven’t mentioned Leigh Halfpenny… he’d definitely be number six. It’s so hard to condense that lot into five, and he does bring something that the others don’t have with his goal-kicking. He’s also one of the best, if not the best, defensive full-back in the world. But he’s had a quieter season this year, and my top five have really stood out when I’ve played against them.”
Check out these counter-attacking tips from Chris Pennell!
The World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge involves the top teams in the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA. It will take place alongside the Rugby World Cup later this year, at the Copper Box Arena. Check out the schedule here!