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Rugby Championship Team of the Week – Round 4

Despite an improved performance, no Pumas cracked the nod, neither did any of the beleaguered Springboks. Instead, our team consists of ten New Zealanders and five Australians. 

Rugby Championship

Australasian aces once again dominate our Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

Kicking off the fourth round of the Southern Hemisphere showcase in Saturday’s double-header in Brisbane, the Wallabies did the double over the Springboks for the first time in five years as they clinched a convincing 30-17 win to reclaim the Mandela Plate.

A second-string All Blacks side added to South Africa’s woes as they secured a fourth bonus-point win on the bounce, beating the Pumas 36-13 to overtake the men in green and gold at the top of the world rankings and effectively dash their hopes of retaining the Rugby Championship crown.

Despite an improved performance, no Pumas cracked the nod, neither did any of the beleaguered Springboks. Instead, our team consists of 10 New Zealanders and five Australians. 

15: Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)

Welcomed the invitation to run freely. Showed his speed and smarts to cut through the first line of defence like a hot knife through butter, most memorably off Damian McKenzie in the first quarter, as well as his power when he ran over Gonzalo Bertranou. Scored 11 points with his trusty boot and made a vital tackle on his opposite number Juan Cruz Mallia.

14: Will Jordan (New Zealand)

Unlucky that he couldn’t extend his six-match try-scoring streak, first being stopped a metre short early on and then having a try disallowed for a forward pass. Created scoring opportunities for those around him, like the lightning-quick flick that led to Samisoni Taukei’aho’s try. Also made good defensive reads.

13: Len Ikitau (Australia)

A baby-faced assassin on the day as he grabbed a quick-fire double when the Springboks were down to 14 men. Impressive first Test try as he brushed Handré Pollard and Marvin Orie aside and pushed on from there. Excellent in combination with…

12: Samu Kerevi (Australia)

“The Demolition Man” as Hanyani Shimange called him brought the steak and the sizzle, highlighted by the midfield monster setting the tone with a smashing first line break of the match and throwing a spectacular offload to spark the try that sealed the deal. Added an excellent late ruck turnover on his 5m line.

11: Marika Koroibete (Australia)

A wing-wonder with a world-class work rate. Came off his wing to run a good inside line and set up Ikitau for his second with an outstanding offload, led a strong counter-ruck to turn the ball over in his 22 that brought an end to the first half and bagged a second-half brace.

10: Damian McKenzie (New Zealand)

The toughest choice of the weekend as Quade Cooper produced another polished performance while Santiago Carreras couldn’t have hoped for a better first outing at flyhalf. McKenzie won out not only for his playmaking prowess – like creating gaps with great passes and a perfect chip for Rieko Ioane’s disallowed try – but also because of his brave defence, which saw him claim two turnovers on the deck, one in each half. 

9: TJ Perenara (New Zealand)

A veteran’s innings. Offered sage direction and calmness to a much-changed side of mostly inexperienced young guns. Put in a big hit on a charging Santiago Chocobares, won a penalty through good pressure on Gonzalo Bertranou at the base of the scrum and went over for a try from the ensuing scrum. 

8: Hoskins Sotutu (New Zealand)

Highly influential with his explosive power and speed, his 67 metres from seven carries are a round-high by a forward. Created the opening try with an opportunistic break from a ruck and produced a try-assist for Tupou Vaa’i. Rob Valetini had a big day on defence, making plenty of tackles, standing firm as a maul pillar and winning a turnover with good counter-rucking.

7: Michael Hooper (Australia) – Player of the Week

A special performance from a special player on a special occasion. Leading from the front for the 60th time, he celebrated becoming Australia’s most-capped skipper by making a peerless 20 tackles and two turnovers, the second on his 5m line in the 72nd minute snuffing out any hopes the Springboks had of a comeback.

6: Ethan Blackadder (New Zealand)

The energiser of the All Blacks pack. Was everywhere and involved in everything, including securing a maul turnover on his 5m line and chucking a classy offload in the lead-up to Taukei’aho’s try. Made 11 carries, matched that output on defence and was the main lineout target. A complete performance that hints at a bright future in Test rugby.

5: Tupou Vaa’i (New Zealand)

The 21-year-old took his starting opportunity with both hands. A top-class 80-minute effort from the athletic second-rower, who was rewarded with a brace of tries, the first just before half-time and the second three minutes from full-time. All in all, he made 44 metres from 10 hit-ups.

4: Patrick Tuipulotu (New Zealand)

Eben Etzebeth was one of the better performers in a struggling Springbok side, bringing his usual physicality and stealing two Wallabies lineout throws in the last 10 minutes to try to spark a comeback. However, he did concede a couple of penalties. Tuipulotu was more clinical, crossed the whitewash and was good in the lineouts, poaching a Pumas throw in his 22.

3: Taniela Tupou (Australia)

At his brilliant best was the freak athlete known as “Tongan Thor.” Laid the platform for the Wallabies’ second try with a barnstorming carry that saw him bounce off two Springboks and produced a prop highlight for the ages with a majestic no-look pass to unleash Koroibete for his first try. 

2: Samisoni Taukei’aho (New Zealand)

A human tank. Abrasive and ultra-impressive with his work rate. In the Pumas’ faces, relentlessly hit it up (11 carries for 59 metres) in close and in the wider channels, where he crossed for one of the tries of the weekend. Grafted on defence as well, making all eight of his hits, which included a few back-tracking tackles.

1: Joe Moody (New Zealand)

Was in a menacing mood. Made an immediate impact with a massive hit on Pablo Matera from the kick-off that looked like it shook the foundations of Suncorp Stadium and led the All Blacks’ scrum dominance. 

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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