Australia unveiled its team of the decade on Thursday and included nine of the starting XV from the Wallabies’ first series win over the Lions in 2001.
John Eales was named captain – one of six players unanimously chosen by a panel of 30 rugby journalists, the others being Toutai Kefu, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Tim Horan and Matthew Burke.
The Wallabies have played 112 Tests since the sport went professional in 1996, registering 79 victories, 31 losses and two draws.
Of the 112 Tests, scrum-half and current skipper Gregan has played in 101.
In the past decade, Australia have played under three coaches – Greg Smith, Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones – and faced the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, England, France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Argentina and the Lions.
The team has collected 1,294 Test caps, while the most capped Wallabies team of all time held 633, in the 1999 Rugby World Cup Final and matched by the side that contested the Mandela Challenge Plate Test in South Africa this season.
ARU managing director Gary Flowers paid tribute to the team in a statement. “It’s a fantastic team, perhaps reflected best by the high quality of the players who did not make the list.
“Overall there was widespread agreement in most positions with the voting very tight in some areas,” he said.
“Clearly, many struggled to separate Jason Little and Dan Herbert, who were both wonderful players in this era. Joe Roff, Ben Tune and Lote Tuqiri were also neck and neck in the eyes of our judges.
“John Eales should be congratulated on the captaincy. There’s no question the triumph of the 1999 Rugby World Cup and the team’s performances around that time weighed heavily on the judges’ minds.
“George Smith has clearly made an impact in his time in Wallaby colours, as has Lote Tuqiri.”
The team is: Richard Harry, Phil Kearns, Andrew Blades, David Giffin, John Eales, Owen Finegan, George Smith, Toutai Kefu; George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Joe Roff, Tim Horan, Jason Little, Ben Tune, Matthew Burke.
Reserves: Jeremy Paul, Dan Crowley, Nathan Sharpe, Phil Waugh, Chris Whitaker, Dan Herbert, Lote Tuqiri.