In the final week of the November Test window, there was a host of good performances across all the Test matches. Bet Central has put together the team of the week from this past weekend’s action.
15. Davit Niniashvili (Georgia)
Davit Niniashvili is a star, the 20-year-old Georgian had the best game of his young Test career as his country overcame Wales in the biggest shock of the Autumn Nations Series.
He was a menace with ball-in-hand and cut the Welsh open on numerous occasions. He epitomised the Georgian spirit and will be a player to watch from now on going forward. Willie le Roux was the spark that lit.
Honourable mention: Willie le Roux (South Africa)
14. Darcy Graham (Scotland)
Scotland’s best back across this Autumn Nations Series and having bubbled under over the last few weeks, Darcy Graham finally cracks the Bet Central team. He’s had an incredible season and shown top-drawer finishing skills.
He was in inspired form against Argentina and coming against the excellent Emiliano Boffelli, he managed to cause problems for him and help Scotland get the win over the Pumas.
Honourable mention: Mark Talea (New Zealand)
13. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
With the return of Anton Lienert-Brown, there would have been a significant amount of pressure on Rieko Ioane to hold on to the no.13 and performances like the one Ioane put in the draw against England shows Lienert-Brown won’t have it easy wrestling the jersey back from the Blues man.
It is his improvement on the defensive alignment that is encouraging and shows he is more than capable of playing outside centre at Test level.
Honourable mention: Chris Harris (Scotland)
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland)
Sione Tuipulotu’s best game in Scottish colours, the powerfully built centre gave Scotland penetration down the middle and set up front-foot ball on most of his carries.
His 2 tries were also a measure of his timing and anticipation and that added glow to a performance that not even a late yellow card could blemish.
Honourable mention: Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)
11. Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa)
The diminutive winger has grown with every game he has played for the Springboks this year. He clearly saved his best for Italy as he was at the heart of the offensive assault that saw the Boks thrash the Italians.
He will most likely retain the Boks no.11 jersey going into the last Test against England – no mean feat considering the man he’s usurped is Makazole Mapimpi.
Honourable mention: Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
10. Finn Russell (Scotland)
Simply incredible on the day. Finn Russell responded to being initially left out of the Scotland squad in the most emphatic manner possible. He has churned out good performance after good performance but was world-class against Argentina.
It’s hard to see Gregor Townsend dropping the mercurial flyhalf again now. Marcus Smith deserves to be mentioned for his role in the incredible fightback by England.
Honourable mention: Marcus Smith (England)
09. Ali Price (Scotland)
While his halfback partner brought the flamboyance from 10, he was studious and masterful as a tactician at 9. Ali Price’s biggest blight is his struggle to replicate this kind of form often.
He was Robin to Russell’s Batman on Saturday and that was enough to get Scotland over the line in an incredible Test.
Honourable mention: Maxime Lucu (France)
08. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
In a week where people were bemused at Ardie Savea not making the Men’s 15s Player of the Year. He showed why everyone felt he had the right to be aggrieved. It was a typical all-action Savea performance – industrious on defence and unreal strength offensively.
Caelan Doris had an outstanding game in a tough watch between Ireland and Australia, but not quite to Savea levels.
Honourable mention: Caelan Doris (Ireland)
07. Dalton Papali’i (New Zealand)
As if calls for Sam Cane to be dropped weren’t already loud enough to get Savea to play the more natural openside flanker position to him. Dalton Papali’i has now all but shut the door for the injured All Blacks skipper.
Papali’i has athleticism that brings a different dimension to the All Blacks’ loose trio and he is destructive in the loose. Hard to see him being dropped after the last few performances.
Honourable mention: Charles Ollivon (France)
06. Scott Barrett (New Zealand)
Just edged out Siya Kolisi based solely on the quality of the opposition. Scott Barrett got through a mountain of work to get the All Blacks on the front foot. Added a physical presence to the back row.
Kolisi might well have been selected as he was incredible, but Barrett just had the edge though.
Honourable mention: Siya Kolisi (South Africa)
05. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
Ageing like fine wine. Sam Whitelock is already one of the great locks of the modern game, but he seems to find a gear to push it to the next level in the Black jersey.
He ruled the skies against England and showed he is still key for the All Blacks going into next year.
Honourable mention: Marvin Orie (South Africa)
04. Cameron Woki (France)
Not known to many is that Cameron Woki is a loose forward who was rethreaded into the 2nd row and what a player he has become at 4. Reads the opposition lineout so well and gets around the park.
His movement with ball in hand was really clever and he exploited space against Japan. After a few lukewarm performances, Woki looked back to his best.
Honourable mention: Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
03. Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand)
There is so much that comes with Tyrel Lomax away from the set-piece. He is powerful with ball in hand and gets through loads of work. He is now well and truly established as New Zealand’s number 1 tighthead prop.
Allan Ala’alatoa played well against Ireland and must be one of the most underrated props in the game right now. He has yet to show the same all-round quality of Lomax though.
Honourable mention: Allan Ala’alatoa (Australia)
02. Julien Marchand (France)
A workhorse of note. The 27-year-old Frenchman was brilliant in the Sunday afternoon game at Toulouse. Julien Marchand is a willing and able ball carrier who throws himself into contact with reckless abandon.
Hot on Marchand’s heels as the best hooker in the Northern Hemisphere is Dan Sheehan who is slowly becoming a tough opponent to come up against.
Honourable mention: Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
01. Pierre Schoeman (Scotland)
Pierre Schoeman is a man mountain, so it should be no surprise that with almost every carry, he fractures the opposition’s defensive line. He had struggles at the set-piece, but did so much good work in the loose for Scotland.
Ethan de Groot is another New Zealand prop who has taken his chance with both hands. It was a good weekend for the New Zealander.
Honourable mention: Ethan de Groot (New Zealand)