Planet Rugby

November Tests: Team of the Week

11th November 2013 13:06

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Test Team of the week 11 Nov 2013

In: Du Preez and Piutau

Now that the dust has settled in the northern hemisphere, Planet Rugby's scribes thought it only right to sit down and select a XV of the Week.

It was a tough XV to settle on and some positions - such as hooker and wing - made for difficult decisions that took a bit of time to agree upon.

But we got there in the end so herewith our stand-out players from a busy international weekend.

International Team of the Week

15 Brice Dulin (France) - The stand-out full-back of the week. Dulin is looking to nail down the fifteen jersey ahead of the likes of Yoann Huget and Maxime Medard and went a long way to doing just that in Paris, scoring a try, beating five defenders and making 65 metres. Dulin proved to be a difficult player to put down on Saturday and if he stays injury free, will be a vital player for the French in next year's Six Nations Championship.

14 Charlie Piutau (New Zealand) - Not too bad this international rugby lark is it? Piutau continues to settle in the black jersey and was excellent against difficult opposition. Like many strong Test players he found a way to break the deadlock as his well-taken try and assist for Kieran Read's score deserved the credit he got. A mention for Ireland wing Dave Kearney, who scored two tries after coming off the bench.

13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia) - Seems to have nailed down the outside centre berth for the Wallabies after another assured display against Italy. Made a couple of line breaks, was involved in two of his team-mates' tries and was rewarded with one of his own. He also impressed on defence with nine tackles made at the Stadio Olympico in Turin.

12 Wesley Fofana (France) - Proved his worth at inside centre once again. Fofana's quality shone through in Paris as he got the better of Ma'a Nonu, making over 60 metres to go with nine tackles and a whole host of other positive moments. He sees off Jean de Villiers.

11 Nick Cummins (Australia) - The Honey Badger was in brilliant form against Italy as he cut loose for two tries, an assist and a decent amount of metres to boot. When on form and given sufficient ball, Cummins is able to gain invaluable go-forward for the Wallabies and that was what he managed to do in Turin. This was a hard call mind as Bryan Habana was at his jackling best on the ground, combined with being an attacking threat throughout.

10 Quade Cooper (Australia) - At the origin of three of his team's tries, the Aussie press are calling Cooper's effort in Turin "one of his best Test performances in years." Word from inside the camp is that the Wallaby vice-captain is impressing his team-mates with his attitude too. Has the tide turned for Ewen McKenzie's team? It's Dublin next for them.

9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa): There were a few raised eyebrows when Heyneke Meyer recalled the veteran scrum-half from Japan in June, but Du Preez has been brilliant for the Boks since his return to the international arena. Another tactical master class in Cardiff.

8 Billy Vunipola (England) - Stuart Lancaster seems to be in good health at number eight as Vunipola was impressive before Ben Morgan came on to seal the game with a late score. Vunipola though gets our vote ahead of David Denton after another industrious showing.

7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand) - We were tempted to go for Michael Hooper, who was a constant nuisance at the breakdown but McCaw was at the forefront of an exceptional defensive effort from the All Blacks, putting in an amazing 19 tackles. A mention too for Chris Robshaw, who also tackled his guts out.

6 Wenceslas Lauret (France) - That was some performance from the French blindside. He caused the All Blacks all kinds of bother with ball in-hand, making over 50 metres against an All Black pack that was hanging on for large spells of the game. Lauret sees of Springbok bruiser Willem Alberts, who put in big hit after big hit against Wales. That Bok back-row trio of Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Alberts is something special.

5 Tim Swinson (Scotland) - Our reporter at the game had Swinson as man of the match after an impressive performance. Swinson made 12 tackles and contributed to Scotland eventually pulling away from Japan. Richie Gray will have a job displacing him after that.

4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand) - We've mentioned before that the Whitelock-Retallick combination should last for a long time. Retallick was outstanding in Paris as he epitomised the team's defensive effort, making 19 hits that were all gainline stoppers.

3 Nicolas Mas (France) - Tightheads get picked first and foremost to scrum, and Mas underlined why he is considered by many to be the best in the business, forcing a handful of penalties out of Tony Woodcock.

2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa) - There was a three-way split in votes for our hooker jersey as Wales' Richard Hibbard put in his strongest performance for a long time while England's Dylan Hartley was man of the match against the Pumas. Rory Best also went well for Ireland. But in the end we settled on South Africa's Du Plessis, who scored a try, assisted one for Jean de Villiers and was generally just a rock up front for his country.

1 Jack McGrath (Ireland) - An excellent debut for the young Leinster loosehead, who scrummed well against a seasoned Samoan opponent and made himself very useful around the park, topping the tackle stats for props in all the games this weekend.

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