XV of the Week: Rugby Championship

Date published: July 20 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Team_of_the_week_Rugby_Championship_Round_One_2015

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we select the players that stood out over the opening round of the Rugby Championship.

There's a healthy mix of All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks here, with the Pumas unfortunately having no representation in our first line-up of the year.

Here it is then, feel free to give us your XVs below.

Rugby Championship: Team of Round One

15 Israel Folau (Australia): Just in case the Springboks weren't sure if it was a good idea to kick at Folau, the Wallaby full-back gave everyone a timely reminder of the threat he poses, beating ten defenders as he made well over 100 metres with ball in hand. A mention too for Israel Dagg, who answered his critics with a solid display.

14 Waisake Naholo (New Zealand): His Test debut only lasted 50-odd minutes before a broken leg ended his hopes of playing at the World Cup, but there should no longer be any doubts that Naholo will become an international star in the future. Exciting stuff happens whenever he gets the ball.

13 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand): A big mention for debutant Jesse Kriel, who scored a sublime try, although Nonu's powerhouse effort to go over in the corner was just as good. Nonu was out of position but it didn't show as his performance at 13 gives Steve Hansen yet another option for the All Black midfield combinations at the World Cup.

12 Matt Giteau (Australia): Yes, he's still got it. Giteau made a successful return to the international scene, playing an influential role in the Wallabies' win over Springboks, especially in setting up their first try. A mention too for Sonny Bill Williams, who had the Pumas defence befuddled.

11 Adam Ashley-Cooper (Australia): Such an important player for Australia. We don't mind switching him to the other wing because it seems like he'll make an impact irrespective of the number on his back. His try was well taken. A mention for Bryan Habana who played a role in setting up both Bok tries. His offloading game and reliability in defence make him an automatic selection every week for Heyneke Meyer.

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand): The best of a not so great fly-half bunch over the weekend. Handre Pollard made a few too many errors while Quade Cooper had a poor game and Nicolas Sanchez had little chance to impress. Carter meanwhile kicked 14 points and was a solid performer alongside TJ Perenara and his in-form centres. Carter limited his kicks from hand and it paid off for the All Blacks as they ran in five tries.

9 Nick Phipps (Australia): An initial mention for TJ Perenara, who seemed to sacrifice his running game for team instructions with 60 passes keeping the Pumas moving. Like Carter, he rarely kicked which helped limit the amount of set-pieces and keep the pace of the game high. However, what Phipps did in Brisbane in the second-half was superb as the Wallaby made 84 passes in a half and helped set up two critical tries.

8 Schalk Burger (South Africa): Superb from Burger. Out of position but still stood out for the Boks with a tireless performance against Australia. He made 20 tackles and eight carries while leading brilliantly in the absence of Victor Matfield. South Africa must keep him fit.

7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand): A strong final Test match in Christchurch for the All Black captain, McCaw opened the scoring for New Zealand off a line-out drive. He also won two turnovers in his 139th appearance for his country, seeing off Michael Hooper for this jersey.

6 Marcell Coetzee (South Africa): The Springboks will hope he recovers from a knee injury in time to face New Zealand on Saturday. Coetzee was once again a real workhorse for his country and showed his versatility by performing strongly away from his usual openside position.

5 Luke Romano (New Zealand): Makes our team at number five even though he wore the number four jersey after delivering a solid shift at the coalface of the All Blacks' forward effort. Romano was a willing ball carrier and made 17 running metres but it was in defence that he made his biggest impact with 11 hits. Edges out Springbok Lood de Jager.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa): Continued where he left off against the World XV with a superb all-round effort in Brisbane. With his captain off the field, Etzebeth assumed the role of the senior lock and took the challenge to the Wallabies. He gained 22 metres with ball in hand and was rewarded with a try after fine support play. Also shone in defence with 15 tackles and won four line-out balls.

3 Jannie du Plessis (South Africa): Played his best Test in years after a solid showing in the scrums and his substitution coincided with the Boks taking a pounding at the set-piece as the match progressed. Also put his body on the line in defence with an impressive eight tackles.

2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa): Like his brother Jannie, the Bok number two was in fine form until he was yanked off in the second-half against the Wallabies. Du Plessis' brute strength proved a handful to the Wallaby defence on several occasions, particularly at the breakdown where he won two turnovers. Beats out Argentina skipper Agustin Creevy, who scored twice.

1 Tony Woodcock (New Zealand): The Test centurion showed there's still plenty of rugby left in the tank with a solid effort against los Pumas. Woodcock delivered a dominant performance in the scrums against Argentina's highly-rated front-row, carried well and also caught the eye in defence with a handful of tackles.

COMMENTS