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Team of the Week: Come in No.1

Some may feel the gap is closing, but New Zealand remain No.1 and it is reflected in rugby365's famous weekly selection.

Following their 14-10 squeaker over South Africa in Wellington at the weekend, the All Blacks top our starting XV … again.

However, their five players just shade the four of the Springboks in the first-choice selection.

Australia and Argentina, who fought it out in the other Round Four Rugby Championship encounter on the Gold Coast, have three players each.

The brave effort put up by the Pumas is reflected in out back-up squad, where they have seven players bubbling under.

South Africa are next best with four, while New Zealand ad Australia (two each) make up the numbers.

In what appears to be an early indication of which players may in line for our Team of the Tournament in a few weeks, eight players return from last week – fullback Israel Dagg (New Zealand), centre Matt Toomua (Australia), wing Julian Savea (New Zealand), scrumhalf Aaron Smith (New Zealand), No.8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa), flank Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina), lock Brodie Retallick (New Zealand) and Marcos Ayerza (Argentina).

Team of the Week – Rugby Championship, Week Four:

15 – Israel Dagg (New Zealand):

May not have been consistent this year, but this was one of his better outings in a while.

Bubbling under: Israel Folau (Australia)

14 – Ben Smith (New Zealand):

You can probably put him at prop and he would still be impressive.

Bubbling under: Juan Imhoff (Argentina)

13 – Marcelo Bosch (Argentina):

Made his tackles and showed some creativity on attack as well, deserved his try in a composed outing.

Bubbling under: Jan Serfontein (South Africa)

12 – Matt Toomua (Australia):

Acted as a second playmaker and took the ball at first-receiver. Also did some good work on defence.

Bubbling under: Juan Martin Hernández (Argentina)

11 – Julian Savea (New Zealand):

Simply the best!

Bubbling under: Bryan Habana (South Africa)

10 – Handré Pollard (South Africa):

The Springboks may just have found the answer to their No.10 poser.

Bubbling under: Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina)

9 – Aaron Smith (New Zealand):

Continuing to raise the bar.

Bubbling under: Nick Phipps (Australia)

8 – Duane Vermeulen (South Africa):

THORmeulen!

Bubbling under: Kieran Read (New Zealand)

7 – Michael Hooper (Australia):

Putting distance between himself and the chasing pack in the openside battle.

Bubbling under: Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

6 – Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina):

Another uncompromising game from the experienced loose forward.

Bubbling under: Francois Louw (South Africa)

5 – Victor Matfield (South Africa):

Still the world's premier line-out forward.

Bubbling under: Matias Alemanno (Argentina)

4 – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand):

Other than his usual excellent breakdown and line-out work, made a number of good passes to keep the ball alive.

Bubbling under: Mariano Galarza (Argentina)

3 – Sekope Kepu (Australia):

Made a few good runs and held up well in the scrums against the powerful Pumas front row.

Bubbling under: Ramiro Herrera (Argentina)

2 – Adriaan Strauss (South Africa):

There may be some who debates it, but he may well be the Springboks' best hooker at the moment.

Bubbling under: Agustín Creevy (Argentina)

1 – Marcos Ayerza (Argentina):

Slim pickings, but the best of the bunch.

Bubbling under: Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)

Our individual selections:

Darryn Pollock XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Nick Phipps,  8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Michael de Vries XV: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Tauriq Ebrahim XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Jean De Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Adrian Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Paul Dobson XV: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Juan Martin Hernández, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Previous selections:

Team of the Week – Rugby Championship, Week Three:  15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand), 14 Cornal Hendricks (South Africa), 13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia), 12 Matt Toomua (Australia), 11 Julian Savea (New Zealand), 10 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand), 9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand), 8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Argentina), 6 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina), 5 Jeremy Thrush (New Zealand), 4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), 3 Jannie du Plessis (South Africa), 2 Agustín Creevy (Argentina), 1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina).

Team of the Week – Rugby Championship, Week Two: 15 Israel Folau (Australia), 14 Cory Jane (New Zealand), 13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand), 12 Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), 11 Julian Savea (New Zealand), 10 Nicolás Sánchez (Argentina), 9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Marcel Coetzee (South Africa), 6 Francois Louw (South Africa), 5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand), 4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), 3 Ramiro Herrera (Argentina), 2 Agustín Creevy (Argentina), 1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina).

Team of the Week – Rugby Championship, Week One: 15 Joaquín Tuculet (Argentina), 14 Cory Jane (New Zealand), 13 Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand), 12 Matt Toomua (Australia), 11 Julian Savea (New Zealand), 10 Nicolás Sánchez (Argentina), 9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 6 Francois Louw (South Africa), 5 Rob Simmons (Australia), 4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), 3 Sekope Kepu (Australia), 2 Nathan Charles (Australia), 1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina).

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