In the fourth instalment of our feature series, the Open Universities Australia (OUA) Dream XV, we caught up with Matt Cockbain, a member of last week’s OUA Dream Team as selected by Justin Harrison.
Cockbain started his rugby career at 16 with the Innisfail State High School Team in Far North Queensland. After then earning selection in the Queensland Under 21’s he moved to Brisbane to play with the GPS club, winning a premiership in 1996 against a Wallaby-laden Souths team. He went on to play 91 times for Queensland and achieved 63 Test Caps for the Wallabies. He was known for his intensity of play, notably making some memorably brutal tackles. Cockbain was a member of the Wallabies at two Rugby World Cup (RWC) tournaments, the victorious 1999 campaign and the 2003 loss to England in the final. He was also called to be on stand-by for the 2007 RWC by coach John Connolly but was not required. Matt is currently the forwards coach of the NSW Waratahs after stints working with the Melbourne Rebels, Fijian National Team and the Japanese-based, Ricoh Black Rams.
The premise of the Dream XV is extremely simple; we have asked Matt to name a fantasy starting side, in their appropriate positions, of players he would love to play alongside.
He can select players he was able to call teammates, players he has come up against, or even players he admired from afar as a Rugby fan, and he can pick them based on whatever criteria appeals to him.
Matt Cockbain’s OUA Dream XV
1. Richard Harry – One of the funniest players to play the game. Great player! Won the 1999 Rugby World Cup together.
2. Michael Foley – As a young player just a really good person to watch and learn from in terms of his meticulous match preparation, stretching, diet and game analysis. You learnt more from the older players though osmosis than from the coaches.
3. Glen Panaho – A mate who I played a lot of rugby with. We were neighbours in Brisbane and then played from Queensland Under 21’s level all the way through to the Wallabies.
4. Nathan Sharpe – I remember him as a young bloke coming into the Queensland side in 1999 and then I got to play at a Rugby World Cup with him before he went on to play 100 Tests for Australia, so an accomplished player.
5. John Eales – He gave me some really great advice coming into the team. Little bits of information I now pass on to young blokes. I really looked up to him for a long time and he instilled confidence in other players.
6. Rassie Erasmus – A cross between a 6 (blindside breakaway) and a 7 (open side breakaway) and a really skilful, tough competitor. A really smart footballer with a fair bit of gamesmanship.
7. David Croft – Just a weapon! A young guy that came into the team and I’d like to think the senior players helped shape him like John Eales had done for me. We then played together for the Wallabies and then the Melbourne Rebels in the Australian Rugby Championship in 2007.
8. Toutai Kefu – What do you say?! A big human. Extremely hard tackler and tough competitor. He brought a lot off the field as well.
9. Chris Whitaker – We sat a fair bit on the bench together so this is his chance to start in a Dream Team! He better not let me down! A great player and tourist.
10. Dan Carter – The most complete player. His game management is exceptional and he’s still dominating games in Japan. It’s the Dan Carter show. He just has so much time.
11. Ben Tune – He was not the biggest player but he was the hardest hitter of shields and in contact work. He could just generate the most power per inch of any player.
12. Tim Horan – It would be a really effective combination with Carter. Great player. He was 1999 Player of the Tournament so those accolades just show he was world class. A good country upbringing from the Darling Downs
13. Dan Herbert – Individually one of the toughest players. Loved the tough carry. He was big, tough and fast. Dan, Ben Tune & myself won the premiership with GPS in 1996 and then the three of us were together at the World Cup in 1999 which was something pretty special, winning a premiership and then a World Cup.
14. Jonah Lomu – Everyone talks about him running over the top of people but I remember running down the sideline in the Third Test in 1998 and Jonah lined me up and as I passed back inside, he ironed me out. You didn’t want to get stung by him. It was the most memorable hit of my career.
15. Chris Latham – He could win games on his own. A couple moments of brilliance from Latho and you won the game. He’s a good friend and with Glen Panaho, we’d hang out together on tour
We’ve spoken to some of Australia’s most-loved past players and asked them to nominate their Open Universities Australia (OUA) Dream XV. OUA, our official Education Partner, are helping Australian players’ off-field dreams come to life through their in their support of RUPA. OUA support RUPA and the players by providing multiple full scholarship opportunities every year, with current and former male and female players all eligible to apply.
OUA’s mission is to make studying at university possible for everyone, anywhere, at any time in their lives. They offer thousands of online subjects and close to 400 online degrees from over 20 leading universities.
They also enable their students to customise their university experience by selecting subjects from multiple universities, graduating with a qualification from the university where they studied the most. The flexibility of studying online also means OUA students can tailor their study load to fit around their availability and existing commitments. For more information, visit http://www.open.edu.au or phone 1300 513 044.