Oval Talk

Team of the Week: Packing in the Irish

Oval Talk

As the group stage reaches the halfway point, here is our elite team for the second round of matches from September 14-18:

15. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino — Argentina

His quick feet and pace left the Romanian defenders eating dust, or in this case blades of grass. His brilliant running from full-back caused problems all day and will continue to do so in this tournament.

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14. Richard Kahui — New Zealand

He's having quite a World Cup, isn't he? Graham Henry will be hard pushed to drop him from the wing after another fine all-round performance. Kahui showed his creative side as as he scored two tries and was involved in Sonny Bill Williams' second as well as Isaia Toeava's. He was assured under the high ball and a rock in defence.

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13. Frans Steyn - South Africa

The Racing Metro 92 star stood out in the midfield against Fiji. The Springboks always threatened when he had the ball in hand. He has all the ingredients of a great centre; intelligence, bravery and a bit of cheek.

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12. Ma'a Nonu — New Zealand

He put in a man-of-the-match performance against Japan, simply superb. Nonu was involved in several of the All Blacks tries and even got one himself when he linked up well with Sonny Bill. A constant threat who can only really be stopped with supreme force, OT's choice of force would be a double-barrelled shotgun.

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11. Alesana Tuilagi — Samoa

Sonny Bill Williams could have easily taken this spot for his second-half performance against Japan but Tuilagi's display against Namibia was one that will live long in the memory. The Leicester winger scored three tries and had another disallowed. The ground rumbled when he had ball in hand and all the Namibians could do was quake in their boots.

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10. Dan Parks — Scotland

In a closely-fought match against Georgia, Parks was the most influential figure in the game. He might have missed a few kicks (then again, who hasn't in this tournament?) but he scored the ones that counted including a well-taken drop goal.

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9. Nicolas Vergallo - Argentina

Nobody really stood out at scrum-half for OT this week but if there's a superior passer of the ball than Vergallo at this World Cup he must be still trapped in his hotel room. Simply fantastic and harks back to the half-backs from the good old days.

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8. George Stowers — Samoa

The Samoan number eight was nothing short of formidable against Namibia and also had a solid match against Wales. He carries the ball well and is extremely effective at the breakdown.

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7. Schalk Burger — South Africa

He was one of the few South Africans to look like a world champion against Wales and he put in a similarly high performance against Fiji. A constant threat in the loose, his abrasiveness is something every forward should aspire to.

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6. Sean O'Brien — Ireland

It was difficult not to put the whole Irish pack in this team after their performance against Australia. O'Brien put in a high work-rate and his defensive performance was second to none, which included a try-saving tackle on Will Genia. OT loves a player who shows desire and O'Brien has it in abundance.

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5. Paul O'Connell - Ireland

He was as passionate as ever against Australia, the veteran was outstanding. O'Connell was the most dominant forward on the field showing everyone he has hit top form just at the right time.

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4. Danie Rossouw — South Africa

He did well in the line-out especially as he had the new responsibility of calling them against Fiji. Rossouw is a bruiser and put in a fantastic defensive effort and he went forward well in the loose.

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3. Mike Ross - Ireland

The tighthead prop may lack mobility but he more than makes up for it with his scrimmaging. He made the Australian scrum concede so many penalties and he filled the Wallabies with a mixture of fear and disbelief.

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2. Rory Best - Ireland

The Ulster star is playing the best (no pun intended) rugby of his Ireland career. He has always been an effective hooker but has now become far more involved in the loose.

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1. Cian Healy — Ireland

The Irish front row pummelled the Wallabies and Healy was instrumental in their dominance with a man-of-the-match display.

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