International Team of the Week: Siya Kolisi banishes ‘grossly exaggerated’ form claims, Ireland star’s ‘unheard’ feat

James While
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, All Blacks fly-half Damian McKenzie and Ireland prop Andrew Porter.

Our Team of the Week after the first weekend of Test rugby this July.

A great weekend of Test rugby saw the Southern Hemisphere flex its muscles as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia all recorded hard-fought wins, with only Scotland and France managing to get on the right side of the results.

Following the weekend’s action, Planet Rugby selects its team of the week from five thrilling Tests.

July Tests Team of the Week

15 Harry Paterson (Scotland): 23-year-old Paterson put in another impressive display for Scotland against Canada, snaring a Player of the Match award as he crossed for a score and had a hand in three others. England’s George Furbank and South Africa’s Willie le Roux also impressed in rather more challenging Tests, but Paterson’s display was so outstanding we simply had to find a place for him. A shout out too for the Wallabies’ Tom Wright, who was immense at the back versus Wales.

14 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): A close run between two brilliantly explosive wingers as England’s Immanuel Feyi-Waboso pushed the Springbok all the way as both men crossed for their respective teams.

13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa): Absolutely brilliant all season and his improvement on both sides of the ball has seen him develop into a man that can play 12 or 13 at Test level. Robbie Henshaw, his opposite number for Ireland, had a powerful game in defence, but Kriel was one of the players of the weekend.

12 Antoine Frisch (France): A man chased by England, France and Ireland, Frisch opted for Les Bleus and capped a memorable debut with a try in France’s impressive outing from their second string versus Los Pumas. Damian de Allende shone once more for the Springboks as he contained Bundee Aki quite brilliantly.

11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa): His flick of the hips to leave Jamie Osborne for dead will give the Irish full-back nightmares, but Arendse was brilliant in both attack and defence. A word for James Lowe, one of Ireland’s best players against South Africa, who demonstrated his full range of skills in both attack and defence.

10 Damian McKenzie (New Zealand): D-Mac showed us his much improved kicking game, as when things got tight against England, his exit work was crucial for the All Blacks. His opposite number Marcus Smith also shone but had an off day with the boot, whilst Joe Schmidt will be delighted at Noah Lolesio’s response to his recall.

9 Baptiste Serin (France): Just how many brilliant nines have France got? Serin’s had some horrible injury issues, but he’s absolutely outstanding when fully fit. His solo try started France’s march to victory over Los Pumas. Alex Mitchell was one of England’s standouts against New Zealand, and it was puzzling to see him replaced after such an impressive display.

10 of the weekend’s top performers including a ‘gladiatorial’ Springbok and a ‘classy’ Englishman

The pack

8 Caelan Doris (Ireland): Absolutely huge in defeat as he dominated the Irish gainline work with some thundering carries and delivered a fine display both sides of the ball all year. Rob Valetini showed his brilliance for the Wallabies, whilst Wales’ Aaron Wainwright was heroic once again in defeat.

7 Siya Kolisi (South Africa): Reports of his weight gain and lack of form from France seem to be grossly exaggerated as the Springbok icon put in a masterful performance against another high-quality openside, Ireland’s Josh van der Flier. Dalton Papali’i gave England a lot to think about on the floor as he dominated the ruck area.

6 Chandler Cunningham-South (England): One hotly debated in the Planet Rugby selection meeting as Pieter-Steph du Toit also had a thunderous match for the Boks and it was literally a coin toss between the two. But Cunningham-South is growing into Test rugby every time he pulls on the white shirt, and he delivered a display of immense power crashing into anything in black. A nod to France’s Lenni Nouchi, a player that could be the next great French back-rower.

5 Patrick Tuipulotu (New Zealand): Tuipulotu has been around a long time, but the excellence of others have kept him out of Test rugby, but his shift against England was quite outstanding and he just sees off his direct opponent, George Martin, who also had a stormer of a match. Franco Mostert remains one of the most underrated players on the planet as he put in another classy performance.

4 Maro Itoje (England): An absolutely brilliant performance by a world class lock. Itoje never fails to deliver an international standard performance, but is often criticised for not reaching heights of old. He was magnificent against New Zealand and he takes the four shirt off Joe McCarthy, powerful for Ireland, and of course, the amazing Bok, Eben Etzebeth.

3 Vincent Koch (South Africa): With Frans Malherbe under pressure most of the match from Andrew Porter, Mr Incredible rumbled on and immediately the scrum picture changed completely. Tyrel Lomax gave England a torrid time at the scrum whilst Taniela Tupou crashed over for another Test try for the Wallabies.

2 Julian Montoya (Argentina): Not a great weekend for hookers as Dan Sheehan limped off after 41 minutes for Ireland and Bongi Mbonambi wasn’t at his best for the Boks. We could have gone for Wales’ outstanding skipper Dewi Lake or Bok replacement Malcolm Marx, but Montoya was one of the few Pumas to come out of the French defeat in credit as he nipped over for another Test try.

1 Andrew Porter (Ireland): A world-class scrummaging performance as he gave Malherbe a torrid time, something almost unheard of in international rugby. It’s no coincidence that when he went off, so Ireland’s set-piece fell apart. Ethan de Groot shone for the All Blacks, England’s Fin Baxter on debut showed immense promise for a young prop, whilst Jean-Baptiste Gros hammered the Argentinian front-row and it’s great to see him fully fit for Les Bleus.

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