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Team of the Week: Slim pickings

It would seem that selecting from just four teams would make things easy. Not if you have the weekend that the opening round of the Rugby Championship was.

The 12-all draw in Sydney dominated our selections – seven All Blacks and four Wallabies.

Argentina, despite their loss to South Africa, still found favour with our selectors – three Pumas and one Springbok making the cut for our first-choice selection.

Our back-up squad has a few more Boks, five – which is the same as the All Blacks.

The Wallabies (three) and Pumas (two) make up the numbers.

Team of the Week – Rugby Championship, Week One:

15 – Joaquín Tuculet (Argentina):

In the weekend where catching high balls was the predominant feature for a fullback, he was the stand-out.

Bubbling under: Willie le Roux (South Africa)

14 – Cory Jane (New Zealand):

On a weekend that saw the wings struggle to stay warm in the monsoon-like conditions, it was tough to find one that did more than just make the occasional tackle.

Bubbling under: Cornal Hendricks (South Africa)

13 – Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand):

Even as a late inclusion, he again grabbed his opportunity – making all his tackles and had a few impressive darts down the midfield.

Bubbling under: Adam-Ashley Cooper (Australia)

12 – Matt Toomua (Australia):

He again showed how easily he can move from flyhalf (in Super Rugby) to centre (in Tests).

Bubbling under: Jean de Villiers (South Africa)

11 – Julian Savea (New Zealand):

Not a weekend in which wings stood out.

Bubbling under: Rob Horne (Australia)

10 – Nicolás Sánchez (Argentina):

Controlled the game like a seasoned pivot should.

Bubbling under: Kurtley Beale (Australia)

9 – Aaron Smith (New Zealand):

Ruan Pienaar had his best game for the Springboks in a long time and scored a great try, but Smith was a bit more active on defence – where in all other departments they compare favourably.

Bubbling under: Ruan Pienaar (South Africa)

8 – Kieran Read (New Zealand):

In tight games the incredible amount of work done on defence is often overlooked. Read made double the number of tackled Duane Vermeulen did and slipped just one – Vermeulen missed two tackles. Admittedly, Vermeulen had far more carries, making it a tough call.

Bubbling under: Duane Vermeulen (South Africa)

7 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand):

He may not have received the plaudits in the immediate post-match analysis, but made twice the number of tackles that Michael Hooper did and did not slip any, which Hooper did. Again, Hooper made more carries.

Bubbling under: Michael Hooper (Australia)

6 – Francois Louw (South Africa):

In the end it was defence that won it for South Africa, when they were hanging on desperately, and Louw was a key player in that regard. He also won a few line-outs.

Bubbling under: Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)

5 – Rob Simmons (Australia):

It was one of the more debatable selections, with a variety of opinions. Simmons got the decision on a majority vote.

Bubbling under: Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

4 – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand):

Not much opposition for him.

Bubbling under: Mariano Galarza (Argentina)

3 – Sekope Kepu (Australia):

The reason is simple: Stood his ground in the scrums and made his tackles. Jannie du Plessis made two tackles and missed three, while Owen Franks made three tackles and missed seven.

Bubbling under: Owen Franks (New Zealand)

2 – Nathan Charles (Australia):

Another position where there was slim pickings.

Bubbling under: Agustín Creevy (Argentina)

1 – Marcos Ayerza (Argentina):

Made life a misery for veteran Bok Jannie du Plessis.

Bubbling under: James Slipper (Australia)

Our individual selections:

Darryn Pollock XV: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13  Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Tauriq Ebrahim XV: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 James Slipper

Paul Dobson XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

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