June Tests: Team of the Week

Date published: June 23 2014

Now that the dust's settled around the world, Planet Rugby thought it was only right to hand out some praise to the stars of last weekend.

Now that the dust has settled around the world, Planet Rugby thought it was only right to hand out some praise to the stars of last week's Test matches.

June Tests – Team of the Week: Week Three

15 Ben Smith (New Zealand) – Once again the number fifteen jersey around the world boasts some of the best talent we see week on week. Willie le Roux was again in good attacking form, Israel Folau added two more tries to his tally while Chris Wyles continued his impressive month for the USA Eagles in Sacramento. However, Smith was our pick of the blooming bunch as his all-round game was flawless in Hamilton.

14 Alex Cuthbert (Wales) – The hulking wing looks back to his barnstorming best for Wales. Scoring a try of his own, and powering through the Boks midfield defence to set up Jamie Roberts for another, he finished with 66 metres, two clean breaks, and seven beaten defenders. Mentions for all-action American Blaine Scully and All Black wing Cory Jane, who played arguably his best game since returning from a recent injury.

13 Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand) – Fifteen carries in Hamilton would only mean one thing for the All Blacks and that is line breaks. He is at his best when backing himself with ball in hand and while he'll know tougher days will come in Tests, Fekitoa should be pleased.

12 Jamie Roberts (Wales) – Another of Wales' monstrous backline hitting form again, Roberts was a tower of strength at the heart of their midfield. On Cuthbert's shoulder for a super try under the poles, he made over 30 hard metres from centre. Opposite him South Africa's Jan Serfontein was impressive, chipping in with twelve tackles, and so too All Black Ma'a Nonu, though the latter missed three tackles and coughed up the ball four times.

11 Julian Savea (New Zealand) – What a finisher. His hat-trick against England now puts him on 23 tries in 22 Tests as he yet again proved how valuable he is to the All Blacks. Of course the damage is done in the inside channels but try stopping him from close range.

10 Bernard Foley (Australia) – Foley has been superb throughout June for the Wallabies as their new half-back combination settles. On Saturday he kicked fourteen points and made seventeen runs as he sees off both Dan Biggar and Aaron Cruden, who went well.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand) – The Highlanders combination of the Smiths, Ben and Aaron, was prominent at Waikato Stadium as they ran excellent support lines off each other. Two tries for the scrum-half, who sees off the much-improved Mike Phillips for this spot.

8 Wycliff Palu (Australia) – Was impressive with ball in hand, gaining 62 metres in the process. Palu's effort on attack played a big part in getting Australia on the front-foot and he comes in ahead of All Blacks and Springboks counterparts Kieran Read and Duane Vermeulen, who also shone in their sides' respective victories over England and Wales.

7 Michael Hooper (Australia) – The stand-in Wallabies captain delivered another strong performance in his side's demolition of les Bleus. Hooper was his usual busy self at the breakdown, but also caught the eye as a runner, making 42 metres on attack and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. Also did his bit on defence, with nine tackles, and beats hard-working All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who made fifteen hits, for this position.

6 Dan Lydiate (Wales) – Was part of an industrious effort by Wales' back row – alongside Taulupe Faletau and Josh Turnbull – against the highly-rated South African trio. Lydiate was phenomenal at the coalface of his side's effort, especially on defence with fifteen tackles.

5 Victor Matfield (South Africa) – One of several Welshman unlucky to be on the losing side on Saturday was Alun-Wyn Jones, who was a rock for his team and led well. However, once again the statistics and knowhow of Matfield proved invaluable to the Boks as he sneaks in.

4 Will Skelton (Australia) – What a debut performance that was from the Waratah. Skelton scored the first try – running over France's Fulgence Ouedraogo like he wasn't even there – and then laid on an outstanding try assist to Folau. Ewen McKenzie now has lock options.

3 Owen Franks (New Zealand) – Has got better week by week this series. Franks was clearly rested in franchise colours ahead of June as the impressive Nepo Laulala started ahead of him but he is now match fit for the Rugby Championship. Strong at the scrum.

2 Dane Coles (New Zealand) – A tough selection here as few really stood out. A bloodied Ken Owens scored and gave everything in his jersey but we go for Coles, who despite only playing 44 minutes, was excellent as he adds more nails to the black number two jersey.

1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales) – Should have been man-of-the-match after an outstanding effort that again saw him offer so much more than other props. His work at the breakdown was worthy of a flank and he topped that off with a bottomless pit of effort around the park.