Following the second round of the Rugby Championship that saw victories claimed by New Zealand and Argentina, we have selected our Team of the Week.
New Zealand were outstanding in their 35-20 triumph over the Springboks before Los Pumas shocked the Wallabies late on, winning 34-31 in Sydney.
Unsurprisingly there’s plenty of All Blacks and three Pumas in our line-up so without further ado, here’s our Rugby Championship Team of the Week.
15 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand): Wasn’t a lethal running threat but his game management as a second playmaker certainly caught the eye. His cross-kick for Will Jordan‘s try was out of the top drawer and his involvement elsewhere also gave the Springboks plenty of headaches. Looks at home at 15.
14 Mark Nawaqanitawase (Australia): A tough call on Argentina debutant Rodrigo Isgro, who was superb on his first international game. However, in a losing cause, Nawaqanitawase was all-action and showed just why he should have started against South Africa in Round One. Such a handful in possession, he finished with a whopping 128 metres that included a try. Isgro was also a handful with 10 carries for 82 metres but we went for the Wallaby.
13 Lucio Cinti (Argentina): Landmark wins such as Los Pumas’ over the Wallabies arrive because of several moments in the game and Cinti’s try-saving tackle on Carter Gordon was definitely one of those. It was an incredible defensive effort while his performance in attack one position out from last week also impressed as he looked much more comfortable alongside the experienced Jeronimo De La Fuente.
12 Jordie Barrett (New Zealand): The aforementioned De La Fuente was solid for Los Pumas while we were impressed with Carter Gordon‘s efforts with ball in hand. But Barrett makes it back-to-back selections in our side after a complete showing at 12. He made 10 tackles, was a handful in possession and kicked well out of hand as for the second successive week he was a perfect foil for his fly-half.
11 Will Jordan (New Zealand): We bet you were raging over no mention of Jordan at 14, well fear not as we had to shift the All Black to 11 in order to get him into our line-up. What a comeback performance it was from the flying wing as he tore the Springboks to pieces from the outset, showing once again how invaluable he is to New Zealand. Argentina’s Mateo Carreras stood out with a well-taken try but Jordan fully deserves his spot in the side.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) July 15, 2023
10 Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand): Damian McKenzie set the standard in Round One and Mo’unga has carried that on after a wonderful display against South Africa. He oozed class with ball in hand and backed that up with 20 points to see off Santiago Carreras, who impressed for Argentina in Sydney.
9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand): A lot of the All Blacks’ good work in the first quarter had Smith’s name all over it. Quick and pinpoint service to his forwards and backs helped keep the Boks on the back foot and New Zealand duly capitalised with early points. Mentions go to Nic White and Gonzalo Bertranou for their efforts in Sydney but Smith is our nine.
8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand): Not up near the top of his long list of impressive performances but it was still good enough to make our side, with Savea making 25 metres from his eight carries and nine tackles.
7 Sam Cane (New Zealand): While he only played half the game, what a half it was from the All Blacks skipper and his troops. Cane helped to get his team off to the perfect start with strong carries and slick offloads as he gets this jersey from his direct opponent on Saturday, Kwagga Smith.
6 Shannon Frizell (New Zealand): One of the standout performers of the weekend, Frizell was everywhere for the All Blacks on Saturday. His 14 carries were the most any player on his side managed while his steamrolling run over Willie le Roux had Jonah Lomu on Mike Catt vibes. A quite sensational showing.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 15, 2023
5 Tomas Lavanini (Argentina): Put in an impressive 80-minute performance in the engine room as he finished with 12 carries on the day. While Scott Barrett was once again strong at lock for New Zealand, Lavanini chipped in on both sides of the ball as he was a nuisance to the Wallabies.
4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand): Consistently produces the goods for the All Blacks and Chiefs and was on his game again over the weekend. 37 metres from his 10 carries plus eight tackles and five line-out takes provides further proof, if we needed it, that Retallick was in top form in Auckland.
3 Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand): A mention first for Allan Alaalatoa after making a whopping 19 tackles in his 73 minutes on the field for Australia. However, after another impressive performance at the set-piece, it was hard to ignore this All Black, who also chipped in around the field as his stock continues to rise.
2 Julian Montoya (Argentina): Such a calming but passionate leader, Montoya would no doubt have enjoyed that victory over the Wallabies. His speech to his players after the win showed how highly they regard him and it shows on the field. While Codie Taylor was strong for New Zealand, the Argentina skipper was such an influential figure in Los Pumas’ triumph.
1 Ethan de Groot (New Zealand): Continues to build on his game at Test level, De Groot enjoyed a solid performance against arguably the best scrummaging tighthead in the world on Saturday. He backed up that solidity at the set-piece with skills and power in open play as he gets in over James Slipper to complete our side.