February 23, 2020, 14:40

Team of the Week: All Blacks, Wales standouts and Springboks combine

Team of the Week: All Blacks, Wales standouts and Springboks combine

Find out who makes it into our XV this week as the standouts from the latest round of pre-World Cup summer Tests combine…

See who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below…

15. Maxime Medard (France)

Leigh Halfpenny proved a more-than-able last-minute replacement for Liam Williams as Wales beat England in Cardiff on Saturday, but Medard really stood out for France as they destroyed Scotland 32-3 in Nice.

The Toulouse man made 13 carries for 64 metres in attack and scored two tries in the dominant win for Les Bleus.

14. S’bu Nkosi (South Africa)

South Africa’s 24-18 victory over Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday was a largely drab affair in truth, but Nkosi absolutely lit it up with two sublime moments of try-scoring skill.

The wing earned 67 metres with ball in hand – more than any other player on the park – beat five defenders, made two clean breaks and scored a couple of tries.

He demonstrated superb feet, power, agility and dancing ability in possession which left the Pumas stumped.

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)

New Zealand responded to their 47-26 defeat to Australia with a ruthless 36-0 victory at Eden Park over the Wallabies on Saturday, with outside-centre Lienert-Brown one of the key men.

The Kiwi made 17 carries and 90 metres in attack – both the most of any player on the park – beat seven defenders, made two clean breaks and offloaded to create a try for George Bridge.

12. Chelsea Alley (Blacks Ferns)

After a 47-10 victory in Perth last weekend, the Blacks Ferns kept the pressure on the Wallaroos at Eden Park to produce another comprehensive 37-8 victory.

In all, the Black Ferns had too much for their opponents to handle and finished their international season on a high note.

Meanwhile for the men’s side, Sonny Bill Williams also stepped up to the mark on his return from playing club rugby for Counties Manukau.

His try was well-taken as he ran a super line and showed great determination to reach the line with two Wallabies on his back.

11. Sevu Reece (New Zealand)

Another All Black to catch the eye at Eden Park was Crusaders wing Reece on just his second Test appearance.

The 22-year-old beat four defenders, made four clean breaks, was an attacking threat all match and crowned it off with a wonderful try where he showed off superb footballing technique and acceleration.

It’s incredible how things have changed for Reece. Back in May 2018, it was announced he had signed a contract with Connacht – taking him completely out of the equation for All Blacks recognition – and then was left without a club when the Irish province reneged on the deal in light of Reece pleading guilty to a domestic abuse charge.

A little over a year later and he’s on the verge of heading to Japan with the double world champions.

10. Dan Biggar (Wales)

Warren Gatland’s Wales moved to number one in the world on Saturday courtesy of their 13-6 win over England at the Principality Stadium, and out-half Biggar – a week on from Gareth Anscombe’s serious knee injury – was fantastic.

The Northampton Saint put in some 10 tackles – a huge number for a playmaker – beat two defenders and earned 28 metres from kick returns – his outstanding aerial skills coming to the fore again.

He was also 100 per cent with his two efforts off the tee.

9. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

All Blacks scrum-half Smith was pivotal for his side on Saturday as they annihilated Australia, with his kicking game from hand absolutely sensational.

The half-back has one of the best passes in the game, which he also demonstrated in spades, while he notched a deserved try after a clever support line.

But, his kicking game was the real takeaway – it was phenomenal.

1. Joe Moody (New Zealand)

At the heart of New Zealand’s work in Auckland was their set-piece and the way in which their pack dominated their Wallabies counterparts.

The fact a seven-man pack drove Australia backwards just before the interval, and then did so again after the break against the head says everything you need to know about their work.

Alongside Nepo Laulala, Moody anchored a scrum that other nations will have taken note of.

2. Schalk Brits (South Africa)

Just 13 months on from announcing his retirement from rugby, former Saracens hooker Brits was captaining the Springboks on Saturday in victory over Argentina at 38-years-old – and played like someone a decade his junior.

The evergreen forward shows no signs of letting up with his energy, pace and commitment still brilliant. Brits made 17 tackles – the second most of anyone – earned two turnovers and was 100 per cent from his 12 lineout throws.

3. Dan Cole (England)

The only England man in our XV this week and one of very few to come away with some credit from Cardiff on Saturday, tighthead Cole’s Test resurgence back onto the Test scene continued at the Principality.

It’s not long ago that the 32-year-old appeared to be completely out of Eddie Jones’ England plans, but he’s forced his way back in and at the weekend scrummaged really strongly as the visitors earned the edge in that particular facet.

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (New Zealand)

With Brodie Retallick out injured and Scott Barrett suspended, the All Blacks needed somebody to step up and fill a considerable hole in their second row against Australia.

Often much-maligned in New Zealand, Tuipulotu came in and was exactly the type of accurate work-horse Steve Hansen and co required.

The 26-year-old didn’t miss a tackle and made two memorably crunching hits on Kurtley Beale which set the tone, earned a turnover, contributed six carries and claimed two lineouts.

5. Sebastien Vahaamahina (France)

Based on pure stats alone, Vahaamahina just edges out Wales skipper Alun-Wyn Jones – who was brilliant against England on Saturday.

Vahaamahina was a monster for France against Scotland, however, as he made 15 carries – more than anyone on the park – and 17 tackles – the most of any Frenchman.

He also earned three turnovers, beat two defenders in attack and was France’s go-to man in the lineout with three. He also, crucially, gave away no penalties – an area he has been strongly criticised for in the past.

6. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

For so long behind Sam Cane for the openside slot and Kieran Read for the No 8 spot, Savea could have cemented his place as the All Blacks’ blindside flanker going forward.

The back-row never seems to have a bad game and Saturday was no different as he dominated in the face of Australia. He made 12 carries – the most of any Kiwi – and 12 tackles, while he also chipped in with a lineout steal. He’s pure class.

7. Josh Navidi (Wales)

Aaron Wainwright stood out for Wales but loses out to compatriot Navidi for a back-row spot in our team after the latter’s impact upon replacing the injured James Davies against England.

Navidi made 11 tackles as he seemed to be everywhere and came on to win three turnovers at the breakdown. He also added six carries and was squeaky clean too, conceding no penalties, something exceedingly rare for an openside.

8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)

Source: skysports.com

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