Boks‚ All Blacks dominate Rugby Championship team of the tournament

Aphiwe Dyantyi of South Africa powers through a tackle from Waisake Naholo of New Zealand during the Rugby Championship match between the Springboks and the All Blacks at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on October 6, 2018.
Aphiwe Dyantyi of South Africa powers through a tackle from Waisake Naholo of New Zealand during the Rugby Championship match between the Springboks and the All Blacks at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on October 6, 2018.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

After a Rugby Championship that showed some signs of being competitive thanks to the Springboks’ two epic battles against the All Blacks‚ we pick our composite team of the tournament.

15 – Willie le Roux (South Africa)

BUBBLING UNDER- Ben Smith (New Zealand)

The mercurial Le Roux delivered some brilliant performances interspersed with one or two typically below par outings.

But when he was hot‚ he was like rugby magma.

His performances against the All Blacks in particular played a huge part in the Boks’ positive performances. He ghosted in to space regularly and was solid under the high ball.

14-Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)

BUBBLING UNDER – Israel Folau (Australia)

Joint top try-scorer with five strikes only tells a small portion of the story for New Zealand’s main weapon.

Powerful and quick‚ Ioane turns half chances into fully-fledged scoring opportunities with his ability to stress and stretch defences. A rare talent who is only improving.

13 – Jack Goodhue (New Zealand)

BUBBLING UNDER – Jesse Kriel (SA)

Didn’t have as much game time as he’d have liked but when he was on the field he created huge problems in a position.

Goodhue was the centre that made the most metres with ball-in-hand and also was in the top ten for offloads. He is a star in the making and is set to be a dangerous presence at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

12 –Jeronimo de le Fuente (Argentina)

BUBBLING UNDER – Damian de Allende (SA)

Another position where no player was massively better than the next.

De la Fuente though was able to break tackles and create problems while also showing defensive steel. 

11-Aphiwe Dyantyi (SA)

BUBBLING UNDER - Ramiro Moyano (Argentina)

Scored five tries in the competition‚ but was so much more than that.

His speed and intuition to snuff out what looked like sure tries with brilliant reads‚ highlighted his defensive ability.

He is raw but there wasn’t a player who put more fear into defences. 

10 – Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina)

BUBBLING UNDER - Handré Pollard (SA)

He was the leading tournament’s leading scorer with 67 points‚ but he was the general that operated behind a pack that was often on the back foot.

Sanchez isn’t as flashy as some of his opponents‚ but his ability to keep the side moving forward‚ or to relieve pressure‚ are essential Test ingredients. 

9 – Faf de Klerk (SA)

BUBBLING UNDER – Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

The feisty scrumhalf was at his harrying‚ hassling best throughout the tournament.

His defence and knack of making vital tackles‚ was one of the key features of the Boks’ campaign while his tactical kicking game improved over the course of the competition. 

8 – David Pocock (Australia)

BUBBLING UNDER-Kieran Read (New Zealand)

The turnover master didn’t disappoint with 10 pilfers in the tournament as well as 72 tackles.

His ability to link on attack was also immense‚ which all added up to a thunderous return to the tournament for the brilliant Wallaby. 

7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (SA)

BUBBLING UNDER – Marcos Kremer (Argentina)

The one-time lock has established himself as a world-class blindside flank.

The top tackler in the tournament with 82‚ also carried willingly‚ which allowed him to be in the top 10 for carries and offloads. 

6 – Pablo Matera (Argentina)

BUBBLING UNDER-Siya Kolisi (SA)

Not a classic open-sider but is one of those loose-forwards that is a little bit of everything.

He was a dynamo for the Pumas‚ operating as a breakdown specialist and a linking kingpin. It was a coming-of-age campaign for Matera. 

5 – Scott Barrett (New Zealand)

BUBBLING UNDER-Franco Mostert (SA)

The biggest of the Barrett brothers grew into his own with his elevation to first choice starter after Brodie Retallick’s injury.

He was effective in the line-outs‚ a strong defender and shuddering ball carrier. No frills but an underrated performer in a strong team. 

4 – Eben Etzebeth (SA)

BUBBLING UNDER – Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

The Bok hard man has a work rate that would make most athletes blush.

He took the most line-outs (28) and second in line-outs stolen (2)‚ but also featured highly in carries and tackles.

It was wonderful to see the great man back to his best. 

3 – Owen Franks (New Zealand)

BUBBLING UNDER-Frans Malherbe (SA)

The veteran tight-head is the opposite of flashy but he quietly grinds opponents down while also working hard in the tight loose exchanges.

It’s never pretty but always effective. 

2 – Malcolm Marx (SA)

BUBBLING UNDER-Codie Taylor (New Zealand)

The Bok hooker is a rare gem of a player and while his throwing–in is still a work in progress‚ his all round game is peerless.

He made eight pilfers – second only to Pocock – while making a whopping 51 tackles. He made three tackle breaks and carried 40 times. Immense. 

1 – Karl Tu’inukuafe (New Zealand)

BUBBLING UNDER – Steven Kitshoff (SA)

Solid‚ immovable and effective on the fringes in the tight loose.

Like Franks there is nothing flashy about big Karl‚ but when it came to his primary work‚ the find of the season revelled. 

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