Martin Johnson picks his ultimate rugby XV made from current NFL stars

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An exciting weekend awaits those with an interest in rugby and NFL.

The Six Nations kick off on Friday as Ireland seek to defend their crown.

Then, on Sunday, millions around the world will tune in to watch the NFL’s showpiece event, the Super Bowl.

One man with a vested interest in both is England rugby legend Martin Johnson.

The World Cup winner is a huge NFL fan. He briefly played American football for the Leicester Panthers before deciding that rugby was for him.

Unfortunately for Johnson, his beloved San Francisco 49ers will not be playing on Sunday. Instead the Los Angeles Rams will take on the New England Patriots in the 53rd edition of the big game.

Super Bowl LIII will be live on BBC One and Sky Sports USA on 3rd February from 23:30pm.

Combining his passion for American football with his knowledge of rugby’s various positions, NFL UK have tasked Johnson with selecting the best rugby XV composed entirely out of current NFL stars.

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Martin Johnson picks his NFL XV

Kansas City Chiefs phenom Patrick Mahomes serves as the fly-half.

“He can move, he can run, he’s got that vision and he’s calm,” Johnson says about the young quarterback. “He’d look like he’d make a fantastic number 10.”

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs

Julio Jones led the league in receiving yards in 2018 with 1,677 and Johnson selected the Atlanta Falcons star on the left wing.

“You watch Jones play and wow. He’s so big and strong but he can also move and change direction without slowing down,” the 48-year-old adds.

“I’ve seen some cornerbacks interviewed about playing against him and some didn’t even want to talk about him, they were just that in awe about his ability.”

Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the Combine in 2011. He has the speed to go with the size.

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers

Johnson picked New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, fresh off a remarkable rookie season, as his #13 and his teammate Odell Beckham Jr is the full-back.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald are rivals this weekend, but both will come together to as forwards in Johnson’s XV.

“At number 6, my blind-side flanker, it is the monster that is Rob Gronkowski,” Johnson continues.

“I know he’s been a bit banged up and a bit injured but in his pomp the man was incredible. He’s second row size, 6’6”, 19 stone-ish, but he can run and he likes to mix it up.

“He’s not just a catching tight-end, he also likes to block and he likes to be in there.”

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots

Donald is the heavy favourite to be named the NFL’s defensive player of the year and Johnson believes he would be “perfect” in the #1 position.

“One of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL at the moment,” the Leicester Tigers legend says. “Not very tall so perfect for a loosehead prop.

“He’d be a great scrummager and he’d be a great guy round the park hitting rucks and mauls. He’d also be able to carry the ball and be destructive doing that and get you going forward.”

A video of Donald bench-pressing 225kg shows his immense strength.

NFC Championship - Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints

Martin Johnson’s NFL XV

#15 – Odell Beckham Jr (Giants)

#14 - Adrian Peterson (Redskins)

#13 – Saquon Barkley (Giants)

#12 - Landon Collins (Giants)

#11 - Julio Jones (Falcons)

#10 - Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)

#9 - Russell Wilson (Seahawks)

#1 - Aaron Donald (Rams)

#2 - Maurkice Pouncey (Steelers)

#3 - David DeCastro (Steelers)

#4 - Alejandro Villanueva (Steelers)

#5 - DeForest Buckner (49ers)

#6 - Rob Gronkowski (Patriots)

#8 - Khalil Mack (Bears)

#7 - Luke Kuechly (C) (Panthers)

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