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Team of the week: Two-horse race

It is understandable that the two form teams – back-to-back World Cup champions the All VBlacks and Six Nations winners England –  have the most players in our fist-choice selection.


There are six Kiwis and six Englishmen in our starting XV, with South Africa (two) and Wales (one) making up the numbers.

There is some consolation reward for the Springboks – with six South Africans in our back-up squad.

Argentina, who beat France, also get some reward with five players bubbling under.

There is further reward for the irrepressible All Blacks, who also have three players bubbling under.

Ireland have one player in our back-up squad, despite their loss to the Boks.

Four players return from last week – flank James Haskell (England), lock Maro Itoje (England), as well as props Dan Cole (England) and Mako Vunipola (England).


Team of the week – June, Week Two:Team of the week: Two-horse race

15 – Israel Dagg (New Zealand):

The celebrations about his return to form was to be expected, because he is a special player when at his best.

Bubbling under: Willie le Roux (South Africa)

14 – Ruan Combrinck (South Africa):

There is a bright future ahead for this man, based on his second-half impact – a performance that literally turned the game on its head.

Bubbling under: Santiago Cordero (Argentina)

13 – Jonathan Davies (Wales):

Was not a universal choice, especially since his defence was a bit shaky. However, the majority of the panel backed him based on his display with ball in hand.

Bubbling under: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)


12 – Owen Farrell (England):

The Eddie Jones preference of two playmakers in the No.10 and No.12 channels seems to suit Farrell's game.

Bubbling under: Damian de Allende (South Africa)

11 – Waisake Naholo (New Zealand):

Perhaps his defence was well short of the expected standard at Test level, but his value with ball in hand more than makes up for any defensive deficiencies.

Bubbling under: Manuel Montero (Argentina)

10 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand):

New Zealand have an embarrassment of riches in the flyhalf channel and there is so little to choose between the top three.

Bubbling under: Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina)

9 – Aaron Smith (New Zealand):

Arguably the premier scrumhalf in the world. Perhaps his best asset is his decision making – which illuminates his amazing skills.

Bubbling under: Francois de Klerk (South Africa)

8 – Warren Whiteley (South Africa):

It was a tough call and few would argue that Kieran Read is the world's best No.8. However, Whiteley's influence in the Springboks' remarkable comeback saw him just shade the vote for a starting spot in our team.

Bubbling under: Kieran Read (New Zealand)

7 – James Haskell (England):

His game has improved markedly under the guidance of Eddie Jones.

Bubbling under: Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

6 – Chris Robshaw (England):

Another forward who is benefitting from the wisdom and experience brought by Eddie Jones' arrival.

Bubbling under: Pablo Matera (Argentina)

5 – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand):

Not very flashy, but it is the hard work he does in the trenches that makes him so valuable.

Bubbling under: Franco Mostert (South Africa)

4 – Maro Itoje (England):

It is hard to think he is still just 21 years of age. He is playing like a seasoned pro.

Bubbling under: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

3 – Dan Cole (England):

The veteran seems to have found a new lease on life on this tour.

Bubbling under: Julian Redelinghuys (South Africa)

2 – Dane Coles (New Zealand):Team of the week: Two-horse race

His speed and skill puts him well ahead of his rivals.

Bubbling under: Agustín Creevy (Argentina)

1 – Mako Vunipola (England):

The occasional penalty aside, his workrate in general play and power in the scrums make him a contender for the best loosehead prop in the world.

Bubbling under: Joe Moody (New Zealand)

Our individual selections:

Paul Dobson XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.

Tauriq Ebrahim XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ruan Combrink, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Jack McGrath.

Josh Isaacson XV: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ruan Combrink, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, Waisake Naholo, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Brodie Retallick , 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Mako Vunipola.

Previous selection:

Team of the week – June, Week One: 15 Liam Williams (Wales), 14 George North (Wales), 13 Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand), 12 Luke Marshall (Ireland), 11 Marland Yarde (England), 10 Paddy Jackson (Ireland), 9 Conor Murray (Ireland), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 James Haskell (England), 6 Scott Fardy (Australia), 5 Devin Toner (Ireland), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Dan Cole (England), 2 Rory Best (Ireland), 1 Mako Vunipola (England).


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