Boks‚ All Blacks dominate Rugby Championship team of the tournament
After a Rugby Championship that showed some signs of being competitive thanks to the Springboks’ two epic battles against the All Blacks‚ we pick our composite team of the tournament.
15 – Willie le Roux (South Africa) – The mercurial Le Roux delivered some brilliant performances interspersed with one or two typically below par outings.
But when he was hot‚ he was like rugby magma.
His performances against the All Blacks in particular played a huge part in the Boks’ positive performances. He ghosted in to space regularly and was solid under the high ball. BUBBLING UNDER- Ben Smith (NZ)
14-Rieko Ioane (NZ) – Joint top try-scorer with five strikes only tells a small portion of the story for NZ’s main weapon.
Powerful and quick‚ Ioane turns half chances into fully-fledged scoring opportunities with his ability to stress and stretch defences. A rare talent who is only improving. BUBBLING UNDER – Israel Folau (Australia).
13 – Jack Goodhue (NZ) – Didn’t have as much game time as he’d have liked but when he was on the field he created huge problems in a position.
Goodhue was the centre that made the most metres with ball-in-hand and also was in the top ten for offloads. He is a star in the making and is set to be a dangerous presence at RWC 2019. BUBBLING UNDER – Jesse Kriel (SA).
12 –Jeronimo de le Fuente (Arg)– Another position where no player was massively better than the next.
De la Fuente though was able to break tackles and create problems while also showing defensive steel. BUBBLING UNDER – Damian de Allende (SA)
11-Aphiwe Dyantyi (SA) – Scored five tries in the competition‚ but was so much more than that.
His speed and intuition to snuff out what looked like sure tries with brilliant reads‚ highlighted his defensive ability.
He is raw but there wasn’t a player who put more fear into defences. BUBBLING UNDER-Ramiro Moyano (Arg)
10 – Nicolas Sanchez (Arg) – He was the leading tournament’s leading scorer with 67 points‚ but he was the general that operated behind a pack that was often on the back foot.
Sanchez isn’t as flashy as some of his opponents‚ but his ability to keep he side moving forward‚ or to relieve pressure‚ are essential Test ingredients. BUBBLING UNDER - Handré Pollard (SA).
9 – Faf de Klerk (SA) – The feisty scrumhalf was at his harrying‚ hassling best throughout the tournament.
His defence and knack of making vital tackles‚ was one of the key features of the Boks’ campaign while his tactical kicking game improved over the course of the competition. BUBBLING UNDER – Aaron Smith (NZ).
8 – David Pocock (Aus) – The turnover master didn’t disappoint with 10 pilfers in the tournament as well as 72 tackles.
His ability to link on attack was also immense‚ which all added up to a thunderous return to the tournament for the brilliant Wallaby. BUBBLING UNDER-Kieran Read (NZ)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (SA) – The one-time lock has established himself as a world-class blindside flank.
The top tackler in the tournament with 82‚ also carried willingly‚ which allowed him to be in the top 10 for carries and offloads. BUBBLING UNDER – Marcos Kremer (Arg).
6 – Pablo Matera (Arg) – Not a classic opensider but is one of those looseforwards that is a little bit of everything.
He was a dynamo for the Pumas‚ operating as a breakdown specialist and a linking kingpin. It was a coming-of-age campaign for Matera. BUBBLING UNDER-Siya Kolisi (SA).
5 – Scott Barrett (NZ) – The biggest of the Barrett brothers grew into his own with his elevation to first choice starter after Brodie Retallick’s injury.
He was effective in the lineouts‚ a strong defender and shuddering ball carrier. No frills but an underrated performer in a strong team. BUBBLING UNDER-Franco Mostert (SA)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (SA) – The Bok hard man has a work rate that would make most athletes blush.
He took the most lineouts (28) and second in lineouts stolen (2)‚ but also featured highly in carries and tackles.
It was wonderful to see the great man back to his best. BUBBLING UNDER – Sam Whitelock (NZ).
3 – Owen Franks (NZ) – The veteran tighthead is the opposite of flashy but he quietly grinds opponents down while also working hard in the tight loose exchanges.
It’s never pretty but always effective. BUBBLING UNDER-Frans Malherbe (SA)
2 – Malcolm Marx (SA) – The Bok hooker is a rare gem of a player and while his throwing–in is still a work in progress‚ his all round game is peerless.
He made eight pilfers – second only to Pocock – while making a whopping 51 tackles. He made three tackle breaks and carried 40 times. Immense. BUBBLING UNDER-Codie Taylor (NZ)
1 – Karl Tu’inukuafe (NZ) – Solid‚ immovable and effective on the fringes in the tight loose.
Like Franks there is nothing flashy about big Karl‚ but when it came to his primary work‚ the find of the season revelled. BUBBLING UNDER – Steven Kitshoff (SA)