Two Cents Rugby picks his form World XV heading into the World Cup

Two Cents Rugby
Rugby World Cup - Two Cents Rugby

Two Cents Rugby picks his form World XV.

With the Rugby World Cup only a week away, who are the form players going into the tournament? Two Cents Rugby makes his picks.

15 Ange Capuozzo (Italy): Since returning from injury, the 2022 Breakthrough Player of the Year has been an electric part of the exciting Italian back three. Against Romania, the difference in class was obvious as Capuozzo clocked up a whopping 248 run metres. He scored two tries in that game and set up another against Japan a week later. It’s a tough pool for Italy, but you can bet Pool A teams will be doing their homework on the 24-year-old.

14 Selestino Ravutaumada (Fiji): Fiji at this World Cup have great strength in all their positions, but it’s no surprise to see a Fijian side with a winger in cracking form. Plying his trade for the Fijian Drua in Super Rugby, Ravutaumada’s performances have been improving all year. He made his Test debut against Tonga in July and scored his first try against Samoa a week later. In Fiji’s final warm-up game, he was man of the match against England, setting up two of his team’s tries. Comfortable on both wings, he’s going to be a threat if given any space.

13 Garry Ringrose (Ireland): We haven’t seen Ireland hit their full stride in these warm-up games; however, Ringrose has looked sharp in both his game against England and his cameo against Samoa. In their canter over England in Dublin, Ringrose bagged a try and was among the most dangerous players on attack, beating four defenders. Against Samoa, playing less than 20 minutes, he added some real edge to the Irish attack again, beating four defenders. When Ireland hits top gear, he’ll be even tougher to stop.

12 Jonathan Danty (France): The French midfielder’s injury has come at a bad time for France, but at least he is not out of the Rugby World Cup entirely. His work on defence is nothing short of amazing. In France’s game with Fiji, he shut down a dangerous Fijian attack, winning three turnovers and made 15 from 15 tackles. He was likewise at the top of his game against Australia but added to his performance with a blockbusting try early on. The sooner he is available again for Les Bleus, the better.

11 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland): The British and Irish Lions winger is consistently one of the most dangerous ball carriers in the game. Every game he plays, you can expect him to crank through the most metres and break the most tackles for Scotland. He scored three tries in his last three games, and despite the fact that teams know what he’s going to bring, they still find it very difficult to stop the big man.

Half backs

10 Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand): For several years the conversation in New Zealand about who should play 10 for the All Blacks has raged. Mo’unga on one side and Beauden Barrett on the other. However, in 2023, that conversation has been non-existent. Mo’unga has been replicating his Crusaders form for the All Blacks, proving to be a real handful on attack. Even his goal-kicking has been largely consistent, barring an easy miss against South Africa. His penalty against Australia weeks earlier proved the difference between the sides at the death.

9 Antoine Dupont (France): Arguably the world’s best player right now, Dupont has started the Rugby World Cup warm-up season in his usual classy form. He continues to be a handful ball in hand, helping to put his team-mates into space. Against Australia in their final game, Dupont wasn’t even France’s best player, and yet he still managed to set up two of their tries. By his standards, even when he’s relatively quiet, he’s still incredible.

Loose forwards

8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand): Ardie Savea has a knack of looking good, even when the All Blacks as a team aren’t playing their finest rugby. The recent record loss against South Africa was a fine example of this. Savea still managed to finish the game with more defenders beaten and more run metres than any All Black forward. He also tackled at 100%. Combine that with the form he has been in throughout The Rugby Championship, and he’ll definitely be one to watch.

7 Pablo Matera (Argentina): Argentina have been a touch quieter on the Rugby World Cup warm-up front compared to some of the other sides. However, what we have seen from former Los Pumas’ captain has been very sharp. Matera has the most ball carries of The Rugby Championship and finished with the most defenders beaten of any Argentinian forward. He even led the way with offloads as well. Matera can really do a bit of everything, and you’d think that if the Pumas are going to push on in the tournament, he’ll be there leading from the front.

6 Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa): Following a major surgery after the last Rugby World Cup, it was looking like we may never get to see Du Toit get back to the level which saw him win the World Player of the Year award in 2019. However, his form in 2023 has shown he is more or less back to his best. He was the top Springbok tackler against New Zealand, Wales and Argentina in his last three games and finished with 30 metres gained against the All Blacks and 40 against Wales, which included a try and a try assist. Du Toit looks to be peaking at just the right time.

Locks

5 Theo McFarland (Samoa): After a few appearances from the bench and a start against the Barbarians, it was fantastic to see McFarland get a Test start against Ireland. His impact on the game in helping to shut down the Irish attack was simply phenomenal. McFarland finished as Samoa’s top tackler with 14, as well as stealing three lineouts. He won six lineouts on his own throw and even finished joint-first for defenders beaten in the game with four. Pool D opponents teams will need to do their homework on this guy, or they’ll find out the hard way what he can do.

4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland): The menace in blue headgear, Beirne, continues to be a master at the breakdown. Good for at least one turnover per game, he bagged two against Samoa in what wasn’t Ireland’s best performance. We also seldom see the big man miss any tackles, and it’s no surprise to see him as Ireland’s top man for winning lineout ball, six takes in the Samoa game. Any team looking to break down Ireland’s defence will have to find a way to nullify Beirne.

Front rowers

3 Frans Malherbe (South Africa): If World Player of the Year awards were given for less flashy aspects of the game, Malherbe would surely have himself at least a nomination by this point in his career. At Twickenham, the 32-year-old asserted himself at scrum time against the All Blacks. He added to that with his work around the park an impressive seven from eight tackles. Any game he starts will be one the Springboks have an extra chance to control at set piece time.

2 Malcolm Marx (South Africa): The try-scoring continues for the Springbok hooker. He bagged one against New Zealand and another the week before against Wales. If he and the rest of the South African pack can continue this kind of dominant performance up front, they’ll be tough for anyone to handle. Marx is always a threat at the breakdown, and the fact he made 11 tackles in 47 minutes against New Zealand shows he’s not slowing down.

1 Angus Bell (Australia): It’s hard to believe Bell didn’t really play Super Rugby this year due to injury. Since his return, he has not only surpassed the incumbent loosehead James Slipper but also looked like one of the world’s most dynamic front-rowers. Big ball carrying will get the headlines, including 38 meters in a losing shift against France. However, the Aussie scrum in that game looked the business and will be a big part of any run the Wallabies are able to go on.

READ MORE: Power Rankings heading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup