Autumn Nations Series Team of the Week: Georgia lead the way while Scotland and New Zealand also have strong representation

James While
Autumn Nations Series Team of the Week image 21 November 2022.jpg

With the dust having settled on the weekend’s Autumn Nations Series action, we have gone through the matches to pick the best players from the encounters that took place.

After their memorable victory over Wales, Georgia lead the way with four representatives in our team, while Scotland and New Zealand are next best with three players apiece.

Team of the Week

15 Willie le Roux (South Africa): A vintage weekend for full-backs with a host of contenders from all countries including Freddie Steward, Ange Capuozzo, Stuart Hogg, Beauden Barrett and Thomas Ramos. However, Le Roux was at his imperious best firing out 35-metre passes off both hands against Italy in Genoa and he gets our vote.

14 Darcy Graham (Scotland): Hat-trick hero Graham was in fabulous form and tore Los Pumas apart, benefitting from Finn Russell’s vision. France’s Damian Penaud was industrious once again against Japan in Toulouse and Springbok, Cheslin Kolbe also deserves a mention.

13 Rieko Ioane (New Zealand): A huge display in both defence and attack from the All Black centre saw him run 75m for one try and have another disallowed. Garry Ringrose put in an impressive defensive display in Ireland’s tight win against the Wallabies.

12 Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland): Tuipulotu looks the perfect foil to Russell’s antics at 10 and Chris Harris’s solidity at 13 and crashed over for two memorable tries. Jordan Petaia was excellent in defeat for the Wallabies off the replacement bench and is our runner-up.

11 Alexander Todua (Georgia): We might have gone for Scotland’s superb Duhan van der Merwe or indeed, the outstanding Springbok try-scoring machine Kurt-Lee Arendse but this is a pick for the rugby romantics as Georgia lit up Cardiff on Saturday.

10 Finn Russell (Scotland): Considering that France’s Matthieu Jalibert, New Zealand’s Richie Mo’unga and South African replacement Manie Libbok were all outstanding, Russell’s performance had to be special to beat them – and it was! He was absolutely brilliant and is our Player of the Week.

9 Vasil Lobzhanidze (Georgia): The Georgian scrum-half was absolutely inspirational as his team made history in Cardiff. Ali Price’s 53 minutes for Scotland was enough to give his illustrious half-back partner an armchair ride in Murrayfield, whilst Faf de Klerk was the heartbeat of the Springboks in Italy.

8 Caelan Doris (Ireland): It was monumentally hard to leave out the great Gregory Alldritt this weekend as he was excellent in Toulouse, but Doris’s opposition was a tougher gig and he was immense in Ireland’s narrow win over the Wallabies.

7 Dalton Papali’i (New Zealand): A brilliant interception try in the first moments of the tie versus England was the All Blacks platform for their dominance at Twickenham. Siya Kolisi was outstanding against Italy for his beloved Springboks, setting up a couple for his superb backs.

6  Charles Ollivon (France): For the third weekend running, Ollivon is an easy choice on the blindside with an all-action display that included three crucial lineout steals, seven takes on his own ball and his 10th try in only 28 caps. Elsewhere, England’s Sam Simmonds was England’s best forward for 60 exhausting minutes at Twickenham, against an equally impressive Scott Barrett.

David Ribbans (England): Ok, he was on the pitch for only 15 minutes against New Zealand but what a quarter of an hour that was as he defined the term ‘impact’. He’s worth his place for his incredible offload alone. James Ryan was splendid at the coal-face in Ireland’s grind against the Wallabies and is our runner-up.

4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand): The Test centurion rolled back the years with an imperious performance, dominating collision and lineout. His opposite number, England’s Maro Itoje was brilliant in the last quarter as he was a key man in England’s fightback and France’s Cameron Woki again impressed.

3 Will Stuart (England): The man known as ‘Wooster’ in the England camp came on, stopped the scrummage rot and crashed over for two tries to level the scores at Twickenham, although Tyrel Lomax caused England no end of issues for 65 minutes in the tight and but for Stuart’s impact on the scoreline, may well have taken the honours. Frans Malherbe gets a mention for a great day for the Springboks.

2 Shalva Mamukashvili (Georgia): The man with the most impressive beard in rugby was brilliant in the close out at Cardiff and his scrummaging was match winning. Once again, France’s Julien Marchand was all action for Les Bleus and alongside South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi deserve a mention for impressive performances.

1 Nika Abuladze (Georgia): Imagine the scene: two points down, five minutes to go and you get a chance to gain a match winning scrum penalty. Abuladze responded and lifted Sam Wainwright almost through the roof in Cardiff as he annihilated the Welsh scrummage in a moment he’ll remember forever. Pierre Schoeman was one of Scotland’s many bright lights in a glittering display at Murrayfield.

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