Planet Rugby

November Tests: Team of the Week

18th November 2013 13:54


Team of the week November 18 2013

On fire: Le Roux and Phillips

Now that the dust has settled after another weekend of Test action in Europe, Planet Rugby's scribes sat down to select our International Team of the Week.

As usual, the debate was a touch heated, with the pack being particularly difficult to select.

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

International Team of the Week

15 Willie le Roux (South Africa): An excellent try scored, another created, no mistakes made...if Heyneke Meyer isn't convinced that Le Roux deserves a spot in his World Cup squad, then we're not sure what more the Cheetahs flyer can do.

14 Sofiane Guitoune (France): Philippe Saint-André has been singing the praises of the Perpignan wing, who scored a try with his first touch of the ball in Test rugby before setting up another as he converted his form at club level on the international stage. A mention too for Fiji wing Timoci Nagusa who scored twice.

13 Cory Allen (Wales): Warren Gatland's face in the coaching box said it all as he watched the young Cardiff Blues centre take to Test rugby like a duck to water. Allen ran well against the Pumas and formed a decent partnership with Scott Williams in the absence of Jonathan Davies. It's unfortunate that a suspected dislocated shoulder has taken the gloss off what would have been a memorable debut for the 20-year-old.

12 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand): In recent seasons, Nonu has added intelligence, guile and a deft kicking game to his renowned physicality. He was typically abrasive at Twickenham, bagging an assist and chipping in with eleven tackles. A mention too for Australia's Matt Toomua, who has slotted seamlessly into the 12 jersey from fly-half, and continues to improve at Test level after a tough start to his international career.

11 Julian Savea (New Zealand): With 18 tries from 19 Test starts, Savea is undoubtedly one of the hottest properties on the world scene. A mention for Wallabies flyer Nick Cummins, who scored a try and made 95 metres with ball in hand.

10 Quade Cooper (Australia): What a turnaround this man has made from his "toxic" remarks. Now one of Ewen McKenzie's most trusted lieutenants, Cooper is rediscovering his best international form. Against Ireland on Saturday, he threatened aplenty with his distribution and flat gain-line play, and snuck over for a try thanks to confusion in the home defence.

9 Mike Phillips (Wales): Was that his best performance in the red jersey? It might well have been as the club-less Phillips scored a nice breakaway score that saw him intelligently dummy Santiago Cordero. His assist for George North was also well timed as, love him or hate, he played well. A mention for Fourie du Preez.

8 Kieran Read (New Zealand): Surely has to be the IRB Player of the Year after another try-scoring performance for the All Blacks. It was his sixth try in his last six Tests while he also set up Julian Savea with a superb offload close to the sideline. We must also give mentions to Wales' Toby Faletau and South Africa's Duane Vermeulen after both number eights were impressive against Argentina and Scotland respectively.

7 Michael Hooper (Australia): Continues to stand tall in this Wallaby pack. Hooper was a stand-out for Australia during the Rugby Championship and was finally rewarded with a couple of crossings in Dublin on Saturday, his first for his country. Difficult to believe he is still just 22 years old.

6 Tom Wood (England): Amid a titanic effort up front from the England pack, Wood stood out as one of the All Blacks' tormentors-in-chief. The Northampton flanker won a couple of turnovers, offered himself tirelessly as a carrying option, and was a reliable source of line-out possession with five takes at Twickenham. Elsewhere, Willem Alberts turned in a hugely effective performance at Murrayfield, making some massive carries and bagging a try to boot. In fact, he was so impressive that he was substituted at half-time in preparation for next week's clash with France.

5 Flip van der Merwe (South Africa): South Africa's touring squad has four 'number 4' locks but Van der Merwe has done an excellent job in his new role, marshalling the all-conquering Bok line-out. 16 tackles against Scotland made for a bruising afternoon. Mentions too for Courtney Lawes and Sam Whitelock, the latter making a staggering 19 hits.

4 Joe Launchbury (England): The Wasps stalwart is growing into the role as England's enforcer and stood up well against the All Blacks' highly-rated second-row of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. Was at the coalface of England's forward effort - especially his clean-outs at the rucks and was rewarded with his second try in as many weeks.

3 Dan Cole (England): Another one of England's tight-five who impressed with a high work-rate in their loss to the world champions at Twickenham. Cole made his presence felt with a solid scrummaging display against first Tony Woodcock and Wyatt Crockett and put his body on the line with a handful of tackles. Just beats out Welshman Rhodri Jones, who impressed in the scrums against Pumas strong man Marcos Ayerza.

2 Stephen Moore (Australia): Was one of the Wallabies' best players in the victory over Ireland in Dublin. Impressed in his core duties, especially his scrummaging and throwing at the line-outs but also did his bit in the loose. Set up a try for Nick Cummins and also made nine hits on defence. England's Dylan Harltey also deserves a mention after a hard-working effort against New Zealand.

1 James Slipper (Australia): The Wallaby front-row has endured plenty of criticism after some below-par displays in the scrums this season. Slipper, in particular, was constantly in the firing line - especially during the Rugby Championship - but he put on an impressive scrummaging display against Ireland as he got the better of his personal duel with Mike Ross and did well on defence with eight tackles.

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