Now that the dust has settled in the south, Planet Rugby hands out praise to the stars of the Rugby Championship's third round.
Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, Planet Rugby hands out praise to the stars of the Rugby Championship's second round.
After two convincing results over the weekend, it should come as no surprise that the Springboks and All Blacks make up the majority of this week's XV.
Team of the Week:
15 Zane Kirchner (South Africa) – Bok fans love to complain about Kirchner being boring, but there won't be many voices of dissent after a faultless performance in Brisbane, that included a well-taken try.
14 Willie le Roux (South Africa) – More confirmation that Le Roux is the embodiment of the creative spark that has been missing from the Boks for ages. The Cheetahs flyer scored a try after setting up Kirchner's score just minutes before.
13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand) – Is he now closing in on being the best outside centre of the professional era? If there was a rugby dictionary published, we reckon the word 'consistent' would have Conrad Smith in the definition. Solid in defence and measured with ball in hand, he rarely made a bad call against Argentina as the predicted chess match against Marcelo Bosch was good to watch. To be honest though, this week he had few rivals for this spot.
12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa) – Captain fantastic! JDV's try on the hour mark took the wind out of the Wallabies' sails. The centre has also grown as a leader and was often the first man to arrive and instil calm when tempers were fraying.
11 Julian Savea (New Zealand) – Only Bryan Habana pushed Savea for our eleven jersey but the All Black finisher edged out the Bok as his impressive Test scoring record continues to stand out. In international rugby you have to be clinical and Savea is definitely that as he is now on fourteen tries from fourteen internationals. Still a long way to go to catch his country's record try scorer Doug Howlett but Savea, only 23, has years on his side.
10 Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina – A controversial choice, no doubt, but we felt it was important to recognise the young Argentine fly-half's contribution to his team's defensive effort. Indeed, Sanchez made 16 tackles – more than any other player in Hamilton or Brisbane. What's more – unlike his opposite number Dan Carter – the Pumas place-kicker finished with a 100 percent record from the tee in very difficult conditions.
9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand) – After a difficult Super Rugby season with the Highlanders where he found his position under threat from Fumiaki Tanaka, Smith is loving being back in the international arena and is now nailed on as the All Blacks number one number nine. Two tries in a busy performance.
8 Kieran Read (New Zealand) – If you didn't see Read's try assist for scrum-half Smith, then do yourself a favour and find the highlights. It was out of the top drawer as Read's standing in the world game continues to rise. A big mention for Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen, whose showing against the Wallabies was right up there. Pierre Spies has a real fight on his hands if he is to displace the Stormers forward. We don't see that happening.
7 Francois Louw (South Africa) – The Boks are a different unit with Flouw in the back-row and the Bath flank made his presence felt at the breakdown once again to be named the official Man of the Match.
6 Steven Luatua (New Zealand) – He is offering something very different to New Zealand's back-row. Regularly found in the outside channels as defences struggle to cope with his size and speed, Luatua has slotted into international rugby with ease. However, his biggest test will come this Saturday.
5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand) – Best lock in world rugby right now? We believe so due to him having all of the tools. While some second-rows shining today are physical, Whitelock mixes that ability with a plethora of skills and is getting better each game he plays. Whitelock vs Etzebeth this week. We can't wait.
4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) – First a mention for Wallabies lock Rob Simmons, who was Australia's top tackler. But we couldn't ignore another powerhouse display from South Africa's young 'enforcer', who was also the weekend's top line-out target, securing no less than eight clean takes.
3 Juan Figallo (Argentina – A big performance at scrum time was one of the highlights of the Pumas effort and Figallo was particularly impressive, making life very difficult for Tony Woodcock.
2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa) – Surely the best hooker in the world. Our Man of the Match at Suncorp, Du Plessis made a storming return to the starting XV, playing like an extra loose forward in harrassing the Aussies at the breakdown.
1 Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa) – A workmanlike performance from Beast who put in his fair share of tackles and played a big part in marching the Wallaby scrum backwards.