Rugby Championship: Team of the Week


Now that the dust has settled after the opening round of the Rugby Championship, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.

A clinical attacking effort from New Zealand secured them a deserved win over Australia in Sydney while a late fightback by South Africa saw them clinch a narrow victory against Argentina in Nelspruit. Let's see who made the cut.

Rugby Championship: Team of the Week

15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand): Was strong under the high ball and made ample metres in possession, 104 in total. In the end Australia's tactical kicking wasn't good enough to properly test him as Dagg saw much more of the ball than opposite number Israel Folau.

14 Ruan Combrinck (South Africa): Combrinck continues to impress in the 14 jersey after making his debut against Ireland in June. He scored the first try after taking a pass from Johan Goosen, showing his strength when taking contact to barge over in the corner.

13 Matias Orlando (Argentina): Orlando overshadowed his opposite number Lionel Mapoe and finished off a wonderful team try, which gave Argentina a 13-10 lead, despite being reduced to 14 men after Manuel Montero was yellow carded. Sees off Malakai Fekitoa.

12 Ryan Crotty (New Zealand): Scored the opening try in Sydney after clever play by Kieran Read, who drew a defender and got the ball away well to the centre who showed pace down the wing. Crotty was solid throughout, beating four defenders from his seven carries.

11 Waisake Naholo (New Zealand): Even though his game was cut short due to an injury, Naholo made an impact when it counted by scoring New Zealand's bonus-point try. Naholo ran a clever line to receive an inside pass from Beauden Barrett that put him away. From nine carries he made an impressive 111 metres, which shows how devastating he is whenever he touches the ball. New Zealand will miss him.

10 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand): The All Black was a standout player in his team's drubbing of Australia. He scored a try, created another and kicked three conversions and two penalties for a personal haul of 17 points. From his 18 carries he made 116 metres.

9 Faf de Klerk (South Africa): The feisty scrum-half was named man-of-the-match after Saturday's win and continues to be one of South Africa's best players in the Allister Coetzee era. De Klerk doesn't shy away from the physical stuff and put in some big tackles against Argentina. He sparked South Africa's comeback when he pulled three defenders and gave a clever inside pass for Johan Goosen's try.

8 Facundo Isa (Argentina): Argentina's young number eight is having a sensational year, and showed his class yet again in Nelspruit where he dominated with the ball in hand, making more carries (15) and more metres (85) than any player on either side as he bruised his way past multiple defenders. One for the future. Warren Whiteley also performed well.

7 Teboho Mohoje (South Africa): He proved his doubters wrong with a strong showing against los Pumas, especially on defence where he made some crucial try-saving tackles and finished with 17 hits. His lineout capabilities further adds to his game and with Siya Kolisi injured Mohoje has a golden opportunity to make the number seven jersey his own. Edges out New Zealand hardman Jerome Kaino.

6 Sam Cane (New Zealand): Showed that it was the right decision to start him ahead of Ardie Savea against the Wallabies after an impressive allround showing, Was a menace in the loose and stood up well to the twin threat posed by David Pocock and Michael Hooper. Cane was a willing ball carrier and did his bit on defence with 10 tackles.

5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand): One of the best, if not the best number five locks in the world. Whitelock was immense in the forward battle against Australia and was instrumental in getting the All Blacks the front-foot ball they needed to dominate their opposition. Made 15 hits and also gave the hosts a hard time in the lineouts.

4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand): Just overshadowed Bok Eben Etzebeth to claim his place in the combined XV with an superb showing against the Wallabies. Retallick and Whitelock currently form the best lock pairing in world rugby and neutralising them has become a big part of facing the All Blacks. Retallick wasn't far behind his second row partner on defence, with 13 tackles, and poached two of the Wallabies ball at the lineouts.

3 Vincent Koch (South Africa): Was impressive at scrum time when he replaced the injured Julian Redelinghuys and showed he had improved after struggling against the Argentina scrum a year ago. The Saracens-bound bruiser also produced an industrious defensive performance in making seven tackles after coming on in the 31st minute.

2 Agustín Creevy (Argentina): The Argentina skipper, playing in his 50th Test, didn't disappoint and gave the Boks a hard time up front as Creevy and the rest of his forwards gained the upper-hand at the breakdown. Creevy showed versatility as he made five passes in his scrum-half's absence from the back of the ruck while, putting in seven tackles.

1 Kane Hames (New Zealand): The Chiefs prop made the most of his short outing after he came on in the 57th minute. Hames had a great day at scrum time and also ran like a centre, after he was given the ball in the midfield, straightened the line before off-loading to Barrett which would end in a Julian Savea try in the corner.