July internationals Team of the Week: Ireland dominate after superb series win over the All Blacks

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Now that the dust has settled on the final round of the July internationals, we’ve gone through the action to pick the best players from the weekend’s games.

Ireland lead the way with five players in our XV after their victory over New Zealand, while South Africa are next best with three representatives.

July internationals Team of the Week

15 Freddie Steward (England): Easily the best player under the high ball in the world and showed why as the Red Rose edged to a series victory over Australia. Whether receiving kicks or chasing after them, the Leicester Tigers full-back continually won the aerial battle and got England on the front foot. He also displayed some nice touches in attack – with one particular effort seeing him dextrously off-loading for Tommy Freeman to sprint clear – and scored the team’s first try. Ireland’s Hugo Keenan was the next best.

14 Will Jordan (New Zealand): Him and Ardie Savea are the shining lights in a pretty mediocre All Blacks team at the moment. The playmakers have hardly created space for their wide threats over the past month but Jordan did, to his credit, find a way to impact the game in Wellington. His line, pace and finish for New Zealand’s third try on Saturday was utterly majestic and saw him take the position from Australia flyer Tom Wright.

13 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland): A true defensive linchpin for Andy Farrell’s men who switches between 12 and 13 effortlessly. With Garry Ringrose out of this clash, Henshaw was forced to move to outside centre but it did not hamper his performance at all. The 29-year-old is such an intelligent player as he consistently shut down All Blacks attacks and also got on the end of a sweeping Irish move at the end of the first half. Argentina’s Matias Orlando and Scotland’s Mark Bennett played well but could not displace the Irishman.

12 Bundee Aki (Ireland): There was an excellent display by Matias Moroni in Los Pumas’ victory over Scotland but Aki takes it after standing out in his first Test start of the tour. Aki, who was born and raised in New Zealand and used to play for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, was a huge presence in midfield. He defended stoutly and carried hard while he also set up Henshaw’s try with a well-timed pass. A top effort from a player that has served Irish rugby with distinction.

11 Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina): The wing excelled in almost every facet on Saturday and was rewarded with the match-winner after the clock had gone into the red. He was a threat in attack, took several high balls and kicked superbly off the tee to help Michael Cheika’s men to a 2-1 series victory. There were several contenders for this position with Marika Koroibete (Australia), Tommy Freeman (England), James Lowe (Ireland) and Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland) all impressing, but the Argentina star took it.

10 Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile): A player not too many people will have heard about but one that thoroughly deserves his spot in the XV. There were standout displays from Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn but for sheer influence on a game, the Chilean playmaker gets in ahead of those two. Fernandez is a wonderfully balanced runner who helped inspire a come-from-behind World Cup qualification triumph over the USA at the weekend. It means that Chile will get the chance to play at the global tournament for the first time ever and we can’t wait to see the fly-half in action next year.

9 Jaden Hendrikse (South Africa): Was rewarded with another start following his performance in the second Test, where he impressed despite their defeat to Wales in Bloemfontein, and as a result fully justified Jacques Nienaber’s decision to select him for the decider. Hendrikse executed the Springboks’ game plan pretty much faultlessly as they finally managed to put the pressure on via their kicking game. His service was also sharp and he edges out English youngster Jack van Poortvliet, who once again shone for the Red Rose after coming on for the mistake-ridden Danny Care.

8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand): Although the All Blacks were outplayed by Ireland, Savea was the one player who delivered an outstanding performance for the full 80 minutes. At times it looked like he was fighting a lone battle and he eventually gained 57 metres from a whopping 19 carries, which included five defenders beaten, three offloads and a deserved try. He also made nine hits and beats out his direct opponent Caelan Doris, South Africa’s Kwagga Smith, Billy Vunipola of England and Scotland’s Matt Fagerson.

7 Josh van der Flier (Ireland): The Leinsterman was at the forefront of Ireland’s onslaught as he starred with an excellent all-round display in their seismic victory over New Zealand. The 29-year-old was a rock in Ireland’s defensive efforts and made a match-high 23 tackles. Van der Flier got the ball rolling when he scored an early try and was also a menace at the breakdown where he outplayed All Blacks skipper Sam Cane. Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi and Wales openside Tommy Reffell also impressed.

6 Courtney Lawes (England): England’s win in the series decider was down to an excellent team effort but their captain deserves special praise as he put in a huge 80-minute shift against the Wallabies at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Northampton Saint was a valuable lineout source but also put his body on the line on defence as he made 14 tackles. He impressed with his leadership and work at the breakdown and comes in ahead of Santiago Grondona of Argentina.

5 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)The Springbok enforcer became his country’s latest Test centurion in their win over Wales and celebrated his achievement by putting in a man-of-the-match performance. Etzebeth emptied the tank during a 60-minute stint and caught the eye with his lineout work and immense physicality, both with and without the ball. Ireland’s James Ryan, Jonny Gray of Scotland and England’s Jonny Hill were next best.

4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland): Wales’ Will Rowlands was good against the Boks but Beirne was arguably the player of the week as he was excellent during his 76 minutes on the field against New Zealand in Wellington. The 30-year-old did what was expected of him in the lineouts, but also claimed a crucial steal at the set-piece, and won three turnovers at the breakdown. He was also a willing ball carrier and shone on defence with 18 hits.

3 Frans Malherbe (South Africa): The Springboks’ win over Wales was largely down to the efforts of their forwards, who delivered a dominant performance in Cape Town, and Malherbe was one of their stars, putting in a dominant scrum display during his 45 minutes on the field. His replacement Vincent Koch also gets a mention as he continued the good work but Malherbe gets the nod after another solid shift.

2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland): A tough choice as Scotland’s Ewan Ashman, Agustin Creevy of Argentina and Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa all played well but we’ve opted for Sheehan, who was once again one of Ireland’s standout performers in Wellington. The 23-year-old did well with ball in hand, gaining 20 metres from 11 carries, which included two defenders beaten, and also put in a big defensive effort with 10 tackles.

1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Argentina): Another difficult choice as Springbok duo Trevor Nyakane and Steven Kitshoff had their moments while England’s Ellis Genge shone in Sydney but Chaparro is our preferred choice after a fine all-round effort in his side’s memorable win over Scotland in Santiago Del Estero. Chaparro made a huge impression off the bench, helping his team overturn a 28-13 deficit and claim a 34-31 victory.

READ MORE: Opinion: South Africa strength can expose New Zealand’s weakness in Rugby Championship openers

The article July internationals Team of the Week: Ireland dominate after superb series win over the All Blacks appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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