Planet Rugby’s Team of the Year

Date published: December 16 2015

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You’ve had your turn, now it’s ours. After hours of debate here at Planet Rugby HQ, we’ve selected our line-up of 2015.

We’ve assessed the year’s action from the Six Nations through to the Rugby World Cup, including domestic action in the European Cup and Super Rugby.

Six of our side are different to the one selected by you earlier this week, as we settled on a number of positions after plenty of debate, 

Find out who made the cut below.

Planet Rugby's Team of the Year 2015

15 Ben Smith (New Zealand/Highlanders)

Smith made our team of the World Cup and Super Rugby, so it's only right to include him here after a remarkable year. Few players are as classy as the Highlanders co-captain. His playmaking, kicking game and leadership have been invaluable. Some player. Other nominees: None

14 Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand/Hurricanes)

The 24-year-old experienced a stellar season after making his Super Rugby and Test debut in 2015. Milner-Skudder took up the step up from provincial level with ease and showed that he has plenty to offer on the international stage. One of the most potent attackers, the World Cup winner finished as the second highest try-scorer at the global showpiece. Other nominees: Waisake Naholo, Adam Ashley-Cooper

13 Jonathan Joseph (England/Bath)

As you pointed out in the comments for the Readers' TOTY, this might be the weakest position currently in world rugby. Joseph however had an outstanding Six Nations for England, making our team of the tournament, and was a lethal attacking threat as Bath made the Premiership final. Injuries denied him a major impact at the World Cup. Other nominees: Conrad Smith

12 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand/Hurricanes)

One of the standout players for the Hurricanes in their run to the Super Rugby Final, where they lost to the Highlanders, and also shone for the All Blacks at the World Cup in England. Nonu's game-breaking ability made him almost unstoppable in 2015 and his superb form was rewarded when he was crowned as New Zealand's Player of the Year. Other nominees: None

11 Nemani Nadolo (Fiji/Crusaders)

The supersized winger continued where he left off in 2014 for the Crusaders, scoring nine tries, some ridiculous, during their 2015 Super Rugby campaign, and also impressed for his country at the Rugby World Cup. Nadolo combines blistering speed with brute strength and silky skills which made him a handful for defenders in 2015. Other nominees: Julian Savea, Juan Imhoff

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand/Crusaders)

We might have not seen enough of Dan Carter in Super Rugby but the impact he made at the Rugby World Cup, especially in the knockout stages topped off by a commanding display in the final, earn him his place. After some injury-hit years, he looks back to his best. Other nominees: None

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand/Highlanders)

The diminutive number nine has continued where he left off last year with several impressive performances in 2015. A superb decision-maker, who possesses one of the best passing games in the business, Smith was hugely influential for the Highlanders and All Blacks in their respective Super Rugby and World Cup triumphs. Other nominees: None

8 David Pocock (Australia/Brumbies)

Pocock's effectiveness at number eight for Australia is almost the story of the year, but long before the World Cup he produced some outstanding form in Super Rugby with the Brumbies. We voted him our Player of the Year earlier this month too. No one made more turnovers the Rugby World Cup than his 17. Other nominees: Duane Vermeulen

7 Francois Louw (South Africa/Bath)

One of the Springboks' most consistent performers during 2015 and also played a leading role for Bath in their run to the Premiership final. Louw's prowess at the breakdown is his main strength but he also impressed with his ball-carrying and leadership, whilst recording the most tackles at the World Cup of any player to make our team of the tournament. Other nominees: Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Richie McCaw, Steffon Armitage

6 Scott Fardy (Australia/Brumbies)

With his work-rate from ruck to ruck and effectiveness as an option at the lineout, Fardy is a coach's dream. It's quite incredible how he has come from nowhere in the past four years to making his Super Rugby debut at 28 and becoming a vital cog in the Wallabies pack, who gives them some extra bite. Other nominees: Jerome Kaino, Schalk Burger

5 Leone Nakarawa (Fiji/Glasgow Warriors)

This was a good year for second row forwards as we acknowledged the efforts of Sam Whitelock, Lood de Jager and Irish great Paul O'Connell in our thoughts. Except, Nakarawa isn't your average lock. He's a freak. Second only to Sonny Bill Williams when it came to offloads at the World Cup and instrumental in Glasgow winning the PRO12 title. Other nominees: Sam Whitelock, Lood de Jager, Paul O'Connell

4 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales/Ospreys)

A World Rugby Player of the Year nominee after another exceptional season for the Ospreys and Wales. Jones shone in the engine room for his country during the Six Nations and followed that up with impressive performances during their run to the World Cup quarter-finals. Possibly the best lock to ever come out of Wales. Other nominees: Eben Etzebeth

3 Rabah Slimani (France/Stade Français)

Forget France's miserable World Cup campaign – Slimani's scrummaging was destructive both for Stade Français, as they rolled past Toulon and Clermont on their way to a Top 14 title, and for his country when he was called upon. The 26-year-old has excellent skills both in and away from the set-piece. As an aside, Sekope Kepu has made huge strides. Other nominees: Sekope Kepu, Ramiro Herrera

2 Dane Coles (New Zealand/Hurricanes)

Another World Cup winner who made a telling contribution during 2015. Coles caught the eye with two superb tries against South Africa and Australia in which he showed an incredible turn of speed on both occasions, backing up his good form with the Hurricanes. Despite that, he also did his core duties well and should be the All Blacks' first-choice hooker for several years to come. Other nominees: Stephen Moore, Agustín Creevy

1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina/Leicester Tigers)

The Leicester Tigers stalwart enhanced his reputation as one of the game's best scrummagers with several solid performances during country's run to the World Cup semi-finals. Ayerza dominated most of his opponents for club and country and was one of los Pumas' most consistent players during the Rugby Championship and at the global showpiece. There's no one better on the planet. Other nominees: None

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