Team of the Rugby Championship: battle for each position

Harry Jones Roar Guru

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    With the dust having settled on another All Black-won Rugby Championship, perhaps we have enough space and time to reflect on the most consistently influential performers by position.

    I’ve looked at the statistics, watched all 500 or so minutes (adding ten for Cape Town and ten for all the other over-80:00 time), and cut it down to mano a mano duels for each jersey.

    Fullback: Damian McKenzie versus Israel Folau

    Macca, because he passed and kicked better, positioned himself well and basically won the second Test against the Boks with one big moment. Folau does have the better offloading game, but all in all, McKenzie.

    Right Wing: Marika Koroibete versus Nehe Milner-Skudder

    I’ll go with the unlucky Wellington flyer, because he played more complete rugby (for instance, kicking 35 clearances or tactical kicks), even though the Aussie was definitely a revelation for the future. Milner-Skudder.

    Outside Centre: Ryan Crotty versus Tevita Kuridrani

    Crotty’s positional sense (leading to fewer turnovers) and tackling effectiveness wins the day here; he also passed better and scored a “waist-high” try in Cape Town that was sort of miraculous. Crotty.

    Inside Centre: Kurtley Beale versus Jan Serfontein

    Relatively easy to choose Beale: he was poor on defence (68%) but offered a wildly effective attack to his team, at times turning the game by himself. Beale.

    Left Wing: Rieko Ioane versus Reece Hodge

    No contest here, although Hodge acquitted himself well, most of the time. Ioane is a nightmare to contain; big enough to steamroll defenders, but fast enough to leave most in the dust. Ioane.

    Rieko Ioane for New Zealand at Sydney Sevens

    (Photo: Martin Seras Lima)

    Flyhalf: Beauden Barrett versus Bernard Foley

    Barrett, but not as clearcut as might be imagined, because Foley played one of his better, upwardly mobile tourneys. Barrett.

    Scrumhalf: Will Genia versus Aaron Smith

    Genia broke games open a bit more than a quieter Smith (from usual). His team relied on him more, too. Genia.

    No. 8: Kieran Read versus Sean McMahon

    Read played a different role this year, it seemed. He edges the hard-running McMahon because of his big hard tackles (8 dominant), his lineout prowess (22 takes), and his perfect passes. Read.

    Openside Flank: Michael Hooper versus Siya Kolisi

    A tough match-up between two non-traditional flankers, both more of the old-fashioned tearaway fast-forwards than the early 21st-century pilferer-jacklers.

    Hooper gets the nod because Kolisi tended to fade in games and in the tournament. Hooper.

    Blindside Flank: Pablo Matera versus Liam Squire

    If this was for one game, it might be Vaea Fifita or Pieter-Steph du Toit, but consistency is part of it. Matera was the most incisive runner and a better tackler than the bruising Squire, over the course of the whole tournament. Matera.

    No. 5 Lock: Adam Coleman versus Sam Whitelock

    A bit of a turnstile for lineout locks this year, but we’ll give this to Coleman because he ran a bit harder than Whitelock, and hit bigger, too. Coleman.

    No. 4 Lock: Eben Etzebeth versus Brodie Retallick

    OK, some people are never going to admit any lock ever outplayed Retallick, ever. But I think over the entirety of the Championship, it was Etzebeth, who offloaded more (7 to 2), broke more tackles (10 to 4), missed fewer tackles (5 to 10), and was a workhorse captain. Etzebeth.

    Eben Etzebeth South Africa Springboks Rugby Union 2017

    (MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Tighthead: Sekope Kepu versus Nemo Laulala

    Tough category because of Coenie Oosthuizen’s unlucky end, but we’ll put it between the Bledisloe foes and give this to Kepu for his outstanding carries and durability.

    A tighthead should never get his arm broken! Kepu.

    Hooker: Malcolm Marx versus Gus Creevy

    The RC has really good hookers to choose from, but we’ll note that Marx and Creevy have to belong in any top four or five in the world, and only due to Dane Coles’ concussion issues, let them battle it out.

    Both were mainstay ball-carriers (over nine carries a game, each), good offloaders, tackle-breakers and turnover-winners. Marx narrowly, because of Cape Town. Marx.

    Loosehead: Beast Mtawarira versus Steven Kitshoff

    A controversial battle between a Zimbabwean and a ginger. Kitshoff got more done in fewer minutes. Kitshoff.

    So, the team: Kitshoff (SA), Marx (SA), Kepu (OZ), Etzebeth (SA), Coleman (OZ), Matera (AR), Hooper (OZ), Read (NZ), Genia (OZ), Barrett (NZ), Ioane (NZ), Beale (OZ), Crotty (NZ), Milner-Skudder (NZ), McKenzie (NZ).

    Six Kiwis, five Aussies, three South Africans, and an Argentinian.

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    The Crowd Says (165)

    • October 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm
      John said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

      Tell me again, who won the comp undefeated

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm
        biltongbek said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

        You could always write an article and put 15 All Blacks in.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm
          Cassandra said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          I suspect that would actually be the best team as a champion team will always beat a team of champions.

          I just had a fleeting glance of heaven. It’s a place where you can actually play out these hypotheticals and then say ‘Told You So!’ when you’re proved right.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 2:30pm
        Brian said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        NZ were the best team this year, but really by not as much as posters like this would like to think. Say either Australia or SA win both of those draws and NZ loses both their extremely tight tests, all of a sudden you have NZ a win behind either Australia or SA. Unlikely, sure. But also entirely plausible with a few tiny changes.

        Even had Australia and South Africa split those tests but both beat NZ it would have been 4 wins each.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm
          Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

          Maybe the reason those things didn’t happen is cause NZ has better players?

          • October 12th 2017 @ 3:43pm
            Brian said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

            Not really understanding your point here Jerry, my first point was, word for word: “NZ was the best team this year”.

            But if your fragile ego needs it so badly, I can say it again for you. NZ was the best team this year. That does not mean they were the best in every position throughout the entire tournament.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 3:52pm
              Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

              Relax dude.

              Your post was a bit of ‘If my auntie had balls’ theorising, but the fact is that NZ did win those tests & SA & Aus couldn’t – now surely part of that is that the NZ personnel performed better in key moments in those 4 tests which might just suggest that they should be included over the SA & Aus personnel who didn’t?

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 4:00pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

                But Jerry, wouldn’t that be a little boring?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 4:10pm
                Brian said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

                My post was responding specifically to a comment that pointed out NZ went through undefeated with the implication that there should have been more players in this list. My point is that this fact, when taken in a vacuum, doesn’t really illustrate how the tournament actually went. There were also injuries and rotations to take into account (both of which probably affected NZ more than the others).

                Again, NZ is the best team. This does not the mean best player in every position in a single tournament. Not sure why this is hard to comprehend.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm
                Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

                Brian, I’m saying your conclusion doesn’t necessarily match your evidence, which is essentially ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’.

                No one is saying it should all be NZ players.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 2:31pm
        Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

        The non selections of Laulala and Retallick is definitely puzzling. I would have picked Retallick to partner Estebeth and Kepu has not been anywhere near as good as Laulala to be selected ahead of him. Moody would have been picked at loosehead as well had he been fit for the whole RC.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm
      Gewurtz said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

      Coleman over Whitelock? In your dreams!
      Etzebeth over Retallick? You must be kidding.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 4:01pm
        Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

        Look at EE v BR stats.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 8:47pm
          Cuw said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:47pm | ! Report

          lets put this arguement to rest :

          here is what Sir CW has to say after that last test .

          South Africa may have lost to the All Blacks but fearless Springboks can rise from the ashes.

          By Sir Clive Woodward for the Daily Mail

          23:02 BST, 8 October 2017

          ” What a fantastic game at Newlands on Saturday. South Africa were very unlucky not to beat the All Blacks, losing 25-24 in a match that showcased the best the Rugby Championship has to offer. Contrary to what the critics say, this tournament is not moving in the wrong direction.

          The highlight for me was the refusal of either side to kick the ball dead after the klaxon went for half-time. Both teams were ultra positive and wanted to play and entertain.

          The result was an incredible nine minutes and 58 seconds of overtime as first South Africa, then New Zealand, then South Africa again piled on the pressure.

          Mindlessly kicking the ball dead on half-time and on full-time — unless you are defending a narrow lead — has been a bugbear of mine for years.

          It tells me that you and your team would rather be in the dressing room than on the pitch.

          Why do it? Eighty minutes goes very quickly, international careers are over in a flash, so savour every available minute.

          World rugby needs a strong South Africa and it is clear their skipper Eben Etzebeth — who is going to be one of the greats — is dragging them back to the top.

          Although England are rightly proud of their strength in depth at lock, the Boks captain and the two Kiwis — Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock — would all walk into Eddie Jones’s team.

          One final thought. When you watch a full-blooded Boks-Blacks encounter, I wonder what the ‘exiles’ from both nations playing in Europe feel deep down. There is still nothing that compares to playing for your country and you should never give that up lightly. “

          • October 13th 2017 @ 1:40pm
            taylorman said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            Well SCW would know exactly what its like to rise from the ashes as he rose from whatever was below ashes after the 76 niller to Oz… 🙂

            • October 14th 2017 @ 7:29pm
              FunBus said | October 14th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

              No he didn’t. He took a team of mostly fourth stringers many of whom barely knew each other. Four months later Aus won a nail biter by 1 point at Twickenham.
              It was a ridiculous thing to do but he was in open warfare with the clubs at the time. But, the 76-0 team was not an England side in anything but name.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 9:16pm
          Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

          Are you averaging out the stats, HJ? You can’t just compare the two on a head to head as Retallick played two games less than EE.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 9:22pm
            Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

            You also need to look at rucks hit and first three arrivals to the ruck. Those are the stats that usually sees BR outshine most locks in the game. His role as a playmaker with those short tip on passes is also something that no stat captures.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 9:33pm
            Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

            Yes. Look, Retallick’s definitely one of the two best locks in the world over the last 5 years, and during all of 2017. The other one is Etzebeth. Sometimes Brodie is ahead, sometimes Eben. Often they are 1A and 1B. In this RC, EE nipped BR.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 9:40pm
              Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

              Take a look at EE’s game; how it evolved in 2017. Offloads, often a first receiver, reclaiming restarts, and hit rucks like a berserker. Often played 80:00 (I think he missed 4 min of RC). BR and EE are always neck-and-neck, and I know BR says EE is his true rival for top lock.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 9:40pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

                The key thing was BR missing too many tackles.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 9:45pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

                EE 90%
                BR 81%

              • October 12th 2017 @ 10:34pm
                Jacko said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

                In your opinion of course Harry…….

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 11:28pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

                It’s a sort of informed and fair-minded opinion?

          • October 12th 2017 @ 11:04pm
            Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

            Fair enough, HJ. I personally think that EE edged BR in the RC as well. BR hasn’t been at his absolute best this year imo.Just wanted to clarify which stats you were looking at in assessing the two players.

            • Roar Guru

              October 13th 2017 @ 11:51pm
              Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 11:51pm | ! Report

              Comparing BR to EE over the whole RC and in Albany:

              They had identical stats in Albany, except BR missed 5 tackles (!!!!) and EE missed none; but BR did run in a nice try bc his team was rampant. All other involvements were almost identical, and EE played his heart out in a losing cause.

              Over the entire RC:

              EE carried once every 8 minutes; BR carried once every 10 minutes
              EE’s carries averaged 5.6 m, and 17% of them, he broke a tackle.
              BR’s carries averaged 4.9 m, and on 12% of them, he broke a tackle.
              Both conceded 2 penalties or free kicks.
              BR knocked on 10 times in 320 minutes; EE 8 times in 476 minutes.
              EE won twice as many LOs, in 140% of the minutes BR played.
              BR missed 10 tackles; EE 5. If they had played the same minutes, at that rate, BR would have missed 14 tackles.
              BR offloaded 2 times; EE 7.

              The end.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm
      Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      What does Whitlock have to do, makes loads of tackles constantly contest for the ball in all aspects, but hardly gets the recognition he deserves.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm
        Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        Sam Cane is the same. I mean, he didn’t even get a mention…

        • October 12th 2017 @ 1:52pm
          Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          He didn’t play enough Jerry to be in contention really, Both Hooper and Kolisi played some 200 minutes more of rugby. Somewhere number of minutes played will probably affect the choices for team of the Tournament imo.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:41pm
            Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            Marika Koroibete only played 3 tests, one off the bench – I don’t think Harry took duration into account.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm
              Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

              True but it would seem in Canes case he has, as two games Cane played in The Boks and the Wallabies got a big beating, so that was all I could reason Logically and also Cane didn’t look his normal self in SA.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:14pm
                Jerry said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                Or he just doesn’t rate him?

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 4:02pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                I love Sam W. Best 5 in rugby.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:25pm
                Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

                Hi Jerry a lot of people in NZ don’t rate him as highly as they should, it should be of little surprise people from other countries don’t either. But I have a feeling Harry thinks he goes alright, if things he has said in the past are things to go by.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 9:48pm
                Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

                Sam Cane is great. Sort of a Saffa-Kiwi. I think he maybe got his bell ring in Cape Town. Looked a bit groggy.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:11pm
                Cuw said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

                its not a case of being unrated or lower rated – Cane.

                it is just that he plays a different game for NZ compared to Chiefs .

                as he carries very little for all blacks, he is not seen much.

                he is used as the defensive battering ram.

                he is different to Todd and definitely to Savea – the way being used by NZ.

                Todd is the more traditional openside – like say Michael Jones or Josh Kronfeld.

                Cane is more like Mccaw in his later years or Masoe.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm
        Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

        I’m going to annoy a lot of AB fans here but I think Whitelock is a tad overrated. He is great at kickoffs and has a high work rate but he doesn’t put in the dominant hits and runs compared to the likes of Retallick and Estebeth. He is only the third highest lineout winner in the ABs behind Read and Retallick so this myth that he’s our no1 lineout winner is actually false. I would like to see him add more physicality into his game. You must not have watched Coleman at all if you think Whitelock deserves to be picked ahead of him this year.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:03pm
          Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

          Hi Jeff,

          Whitelock conceded less turnovers, won more turnovers, Made more tackles, missed less tackles, conceded less penalties, won more lineouts. I guess we look for different things.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:15pm
            Carlos the Argie said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

            Data! Why bother with data? Opinions are more interesting!

        • October 12th 2017 @ 3:04pm
          ClarkeG said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

          You could well be right Jeffrey however as long as NZ has “overrated” players of Whitelock’s quality then they will continue to be hard to beat probably.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 10:39pm
          Jacko said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

          How do you “overrate” the best no 5 in the world?………….Call him the best in the universe??

          • October 12th 2017 @ 10:55pm
            Jeffrey said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

            Not everyone thinks he’s the best no5 in the world, Jacko. I’m one of those people.

          • Roar Guru

            October 13th 2017 @ 1:50am
            Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:50am | ! Report

            I think Sam W has been the best 5 in the world for a while, but if I could pick my team from anywhere, my pack would be:

            Moody, Marx, Franks, Etzebeth, Retallick, O’Brien, Vermeulen, Read (Furlong, Coles, McGrath, Whitelock, Itoje).

            Because I would love the total aggression of the two best 4 locks; what a pack!

            NZ 6
            SA 3
            Ireland 3
            England 1

    • October 12th 2017 @ 2:16pm
      Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

      Unbelievable, only one AB in the pack?

      So the most dominant pack in RC manages only one player in your team, just don’t see your logic. What i’m really struggling with is leaving out Rotelick and Whitelock. In my humble opinion Rotelick was ABs player of the tournament and Whitelock wasn’t far behind. I also think Rotelick is the best player in the world at the moment. Other changes from your team i’d make are Lualua over Kepu and Smith at 9, daylight 2nd.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 2:22pm
        Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        Oh, come on, there was not daylight between Smith and Genia. You could make an argument for Smith and I wouldn’t be able to say you were wrong, but they both performed very well and there are arguments for both of them. The difference is that Smith had a much better forward pack than Genia had.

        The primary reason there are fewer All Blacks is because, I imagine, the All Blacks rotated their players far more and were hit by more injuries. Laulala vs Kepu is another borderline pick.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:29pm
          Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

          Fionn plus this is harry’s opinion, and these sort of things often lead to fruitless debates, entertaining none the less. I quite like harry’s team, for me I would have had Whitelock and Retallick. But that is just my personal preference and opinion. And I thought Laulala was the most consistent prop of the comp imo.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:32pm
            Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            I don’t think I’m capable of telling with locks, as I see strong arguments for Retallick, Whitelock and Etzebeth. Is Whitelock’s work rate and skill more important than Etzebeth’s impact? I think it is totally subjective. I think Coleman was fairly quiet and is the next tier down.

            Can’t fault the Laulala pick either. I was impressed by Kepu though.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 2:40pm
              Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

              Agree But the balance Etzebeth or Retallick are too like for like, Whitelock adds that nice balance that I personally prefer.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Perhaps, but I don’t envy the thought of trying to play against the both of them.

                Can you imagine trying to play against the both of them + Malcolm Marx?

                I guess it is the same question as to whether PSDT, Mostert or de Jager is the best locking partner for Eben.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 2:53pm
                biltongbek said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

                There is always debate when it comes to this type ofselections or picks.

                But suffice to say with de Jager, Etzebeth, Mostert and Du Toit we arelooking good at lock.

                There is a rumour however that Mostert has been tied to a number of overseas clubs, most likely to follow Johan Ackerman

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:05pm
                Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                1. Beast
                2. Marx
                3. What’s his name that I can’t spell…
                4. Etzebeth
                5. de Jager
                6. Vermuelen
                7. Kriel
                8. Whiteley

                16. Kitshoff
                17. Bismarck
                18. Louw
                19. PSDT
                20. Kolisi

                Seems a pretty world class forward pack to me, even if Mostert goes 🙂

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:11pm
                Jemainok said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                Agreed BB collectively TRC has some amazing locks to choose from.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:40pm
          Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

          Fionn, Genia must of played behind a better pack than Smith, only one AB was selected.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:45pm
            Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

            As has already been pointed out the All Blacks rotated their forwards more and suffered more injuries.

            If you play far fewer minutes you can’t really be considered the best player in the championship.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 3:53pm
              Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

              You must be joking. The player that plays the most minutes is the better player, now i’ve heard it all.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 4:20pm
                Brian said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                Taniwha I don’t think that is even close to what Fionn was saying, and I think you know it too.

              • Roar Guru

                October 13th 2017 @ 1:51am
                Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:51am | ! Report

                Coaches do love 80 minute forwards; got to have a few.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 5:31pm
              Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              If you were playing 10 who would you prefer inside you, Smith of Genia?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 8:45pm
                Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

                Based on 2017 RC form?

                Genia, but I could be completely biased.

                Come to think of it Genia was the best Wallaby in 2016 also. Aside from the June series he’s been back to near his best in 2016-17.

                I’d love to see Genia play behind the All Blacks pack and with Beauden at 10.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 10:45pm
                Jacko said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

                Fionn you are completely biased…..Genia was a great HB………WAS……still good but Smith is currently a great HB……………When both their careers are done I believe Smith will be looked back at as better overall but 4 years ago Genia was better then Smith, now Smith is better than Genia……In my opinion of course

              • October 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm
                Fionn said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

                I think Genia was great in 2016 (aside from his first hit out or two) and has been again in 2017 aside from in June when he really should have been rested.

        • October 13th 2017 @ 1:46pm
          taylorman said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

          Oh the old Smith had a better forward pack trick. None of the ABs are actually any good, because each is lucky he has brilliant players all around him. None of them would be any good if not for that.

          And who was that scuttling off on a forty meter run when his pack was going backwards at a rate of knotts.

          • October 13th 2017 @ 1:54pm
            Fionn said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            Taylorman, that’s another straw man. Not sure I ever said ‘None of the ABs are actually any good, because each is lucky he has brilliant players all around him’.

            Actually, I’m certain that I didn’t say that, I said that they both did very well over the RC, only that Smith had a better forward pack as well.

            Would you disagree with that statement? I suspect you wouldn’t disagree with any of the three things I claimed (a) that A. Smith performed very well, (b) so did Genia and (c) New Zealand’s forward pack was superior to Australia’s.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 4:03pm
        Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

        Genia and Nugget: no daylight in THIS tournament. AS definitely better than WG over the years.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 8:53pm
          Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

          ‘AS definitely better than WG over the years.’

          Really?

          I would say from 2010-12 Genia was the better player.

          2012 about equal?

          From 2014-15 Smith was waaaaay ahead.

          In 2016 Smith was possibly better, but I think we’re forgetting how good Genia was. I think there is an argument for Genia.

          In 2017, Genia.

          I think the two have been fairly equal over their careers.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 9:27pm
            Cuw said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

            considering that A Smith made his entrance in mid 2012, got to concur with Harry.

            Smith has always been in form – excepting the time on and after toiletgate.

            Cannot say the same of Genia. he has been up and down , much like his partner Cooper.

            from 2012 to 2017 Smith has been the benchmark.

            if anyone came close to him , it is probably the Lions scrum half.

            but then such comparisons are not exactly fair , given the game is played by a team.

            this is not like trying to gauge how good Davi Warner is good against Ravi Ashwin.

            • October 13th 2017 @ 8:49am
              Fionn said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

              I think that Genia was the best scrum-half in the world from 2010-12; in 2013 they were both about equal; 2014-15 Aaron Smith clearly the better player; 2016 arguably Genia (given toiletgate), and 2017 arguably Genia.

              Genia definitely had a big form decline from 2014-15, but I think he has mostly been back since (aside from the June series this year and Bledisloe 1 and 2 last year).

              The two are much more equal over their careers than people want to admit.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 11:29pm
            Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

            I agree

            Very close, but maybe Sanchez had had a few more dips in form

            Great great great player and doesn’t get the clean ball Smith gets

            • Roar Guru

              October 13th 2017 @ 1:52am
              Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:52am | ! Report

              Probably Genia gets charged down more than Smith, but I can’t prove it.

              • October 13th 2017 @ 1:33pm
                Fionn said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                I think you’re definitely right on this one 😛

    • October 12th 2017 @ 2:22pm
      Mike Julz said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

      Interesting forwards pack. Nz dominated the scrums and lineouts throughout the Championship, yet only one player there.

      But spot on on the backline, with one exception, Aaron Smith at 9.
      I thought Beale was great throughout the tournament. Deserved that spot, just needs to work on his defense. But if Steve Hansen is the coach here, which it is obviously, then I doubt he’ll play Beale at 12, or he’ll maybe change his attacking plan just to suit him.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 4:04pm
        Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

        Could’ve wedged BR in, at 5.
        Laulala, too,
        I might be wrong.

        • October 13th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          taylorman said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          Don’t fold now Harry! Youre going strong… 🙂

        • October 13th 2017 @ 5:29pm
          Mike Julz said | October 13th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

          I’ll wedge in both of those players and a couple more. Coles at 2 for his consistent lineout throw. Marx had a cracker of a game at Cape town. But his lineout throw at the Albanys test was just bad.
          And last I’ll add in Squire at 6 for bringing the mongrel. A great runner of the ball, good support player, and bone crushing tackles.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 2:36pm
      Pete Nathan said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

      Don’t make me laugh, Hooper, Coleman and Kepu, surely they are misprints, or the author wrote this article after downing a box of Aussie’s finest, XXXX, and smoking a few j’s.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 2:49pm
        biltongbek said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        The author is South African, he drinks the finest malts and wines.

        I think he was as objective as possible, if you want to suggest he was biased then look only at his three SA selections.

        Kitshoff had barnstorming runs like no oyher prop, he dominated his side of the scrum, and hardly set a foot wrong the whole tournament.

        Etzebeth’s performances this RC has been his best yet, carried the ball better than any other lock, by memory stole more line outs than any other lock, defended like a trojan.

        Marx may have had a glitch, but his presence at the breakdown was unparralellee by any other hooker, he ball carrying was outstanding, his line out throws no worse than any other bar the one test.

        There s merit in each of those three selections.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 4:57pm
          Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

          Disagree about Etzebeth 2017 RC performances. He didn’t have the best of matches against the ABs in NZ, Arg at home or either match against Oz. I’m a big fan of his but i think everyone is judging his RC form on one match.

          I can’t believe anyone could possibly leave Retallick out of any side, there is an argument for Whitelock or Etzebeth.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 10:48pm
          Jacko said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

          I have found him to be very inconsistant over the years

          • Roar Guru

            October 13th 2017 @ 1:54am
            Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

            Guys, Eben has had one of the best tackling percentages for the last five years. You actually might not find a better percentage; and he makes a lot of turnover tackles. Also, his LO steal stats over the last 5 years trail only Sam W (test) or PSDT (Super R), but carries more than those guys, and seldom has a poor game. Even in Albany, EE was fine. He is the only tight forward to lead the RC in broken tackles, and his offloads are superior to any lock except BR.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 4:05pm
        Harry Jones said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

        I don’t think you can argue Coleman, Hooper, and Kepu were not “in the mix” for best at their position over 480 minutes

        • October 12th 2017 @ 5:15pm
          Taniwha said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

          Hooper deserved his spot, won’t get an argument there. But Coleman over Retallick, i wouldn’t pick Coleman on my bench let alone starting. Kepu over Laulala, i also disagree with you on that.

          Harry i might sound a little arrogant here but i believe the pack you picked would struggle against the ABs 8. Squire would play 8 in Reads absence and Fifita at 6. Would prefer Kano at 6 but he didn’t feature during the RC.

          This will put a smile on your face if you haven’t seen this before

          https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/poem-old-rugby-players-david-harley-brown

          • Roar Guru

            October 13th 2017 @ 5:49am
            Harry Jones said | October 13th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

            Sure, any well-settled top test pack would beat a cobbled together forward group. I was just trying to select best-at-each-position, as performed this RC.

            • October 14th 2017 @ 7:36pm
              FunBus said | October 14th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

              You mean apart from the Lions?
              ?

            • October 14th 2017 @ 7:36pm
              FunBus said | October 14th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

              You mean apart from the Lions?
              ?

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