Autumn Nations Series Team of the Week: France dominate while Italy also rewarded

Team of the Week image Autumn Nations Series 14 November 2022.jpg Credit: Alamy
Team of the Week image Autumn Nations Series 14 November 2022.jpg Credit: Alamy

With the dust having settled on the weekend’s Autumn Nations Series action, we have gone through the matches to pick the best players from the encounters that took place.

For the second successive week, France lead the way with four representatives with Italy next best with three players in our team while Wales and Ireland have two apiece.

Team of the Week

15 Ange Capuozzo (Italy): An incredible performance from the Azzurri flyer in a memorable day against Australia in Florence, his brace of tries sees him take this weekend’s shirt, despite another excellent showing from England’s Freddie Steward. Capuozzo is also our player of the week.

14 Mark Telea (New Zealand): Scoring twice on your Test debut is the thing dreams are made of. Telea’s opposite number Scotland’s Darcy Graham was industrious once again at Murrayfield.

13 Juan Ignacio Brex (Italy): A huge display in both defence and attack from the Benetton centre saw Italy record an historic win with Brex’s soft hands creating two tries for fellow backs. Guy Porter was in blistering running form for England, celebrating his recall with a double at Twickenham.

12 Owen Farrell (England): It’s never particularly fashionable to select Farrell at 12 (or anywhere else, for that matter) but the England stalwart was at his best as he engineered a much improved display for England. Damian de Allende was superb in defeat for the Springboks and is our runner-up.

11 Sekou Macalou (France): OK, we were blown away by the performance of big France flanker Macalou in Marseilles. It’s always been said he’s well capable of playing on the wing at Test level and he proved it in style on Saturday in a brilliant display under pressure. His opposite number Cheslin Kolbe is our runner-up and we send our best wishes to Kolbe recovering with an HIA after an horrendous but accidental clash with Antoine Dupont.

10 Finn Russell (Scotland): The magician is back and quite why he’s not a fixture in the Scottish side is a mystery to everyone. He was magnificent until his pack just ran out of steam. Elsewhere, Marcus Smith combined well with Farrell in England’s 52-13 win against Japan.

9 Tomos Williams (Wales): A much improved Welsh performance was inspired in part to Williams’ excellence, including a brilliant charge down and chase. TJ Perenara’s cameo was the deciding performance at Murrayfield as the impish half-back upped the New Zealand tempo to great effect.

8 Taulupe Faletau (Wales): 10 carries for 54 metres and 15 thundering tackles underlined the importance of the veteran number eight for his side as they overcame a strong Argentinian team in Cardiff. Ardie Savea produced ‘business as usual’ for the All Blacks at Murrayfield in another all-action display.

7 Nick Timoney (Ireland): Timoney gave Ireland a lot of go forward in attack and has given Andy Farrell options at seven as he crossed for a brace of tries versus Fiji. It was a vintage weekend for the openside flanker, with Justin Tipuric, Siya Kolisi and Dalton Papali’i all in fine form.

6 Charles Ollivon (France): For the second weekend running, Ollivon is an easy choice on the blindside with an all action display that included two crucial lineout steals against the mighty Springboks. Elsewhere, Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie was absolutely superb in performance and leadership and is unlucky to miss out.

5 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa): Wearing four but jumping in the middle, the big Bok is up there with the best in the world and was absolutely exceptional against France with nine huge carries for 41 metres gained and an astonishing nine lineout takes. At Twickenham, England’s Jonny Hill was legal and excellent for 80 massive minutes.

4 Cameron Woki (France): Woki is all action as confirmed by his 22 metres with ball in hand, 13 tackles and six line out takes – a massive display from a man still only ‘filling in’ as a lock. Elsewhere, Tadhg Beirne was at the heart of Ireland’s win against Fiji.

3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland): When asked in the week if he dreamed of skippering Ireland, Furlong replied ‘no, I dreamt of my mam’s roast dinner!’ The tighthead is an Irish gem and takes our place this week, after an outstanding all-round effort in his side’s win over Fiji, with New Zealand’s Nepo Laulala also in great form.

2 Gianmarco Lucchesi (Italy): The Azzurri breed world class hookers in the same way New Zealand creates back-rowers and Lucchesi was superb, running 68 metres, hitting 13 tackles and inspiring a memorable win in Florence. Once again, France’s Julien Marchand was all action for Les Bleus and is our runner-up.

1 Cyril Baille (France): Despite pulling his groin once again, the Toulouse loosehead scored a crucial try against the Springboks, and also scrummaged like a demon against the world’s best, Frans Malherbe. Pierre Schoeman was one of Scotland’s many bright lights in a superb display at Murrayfield.

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