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Rugby Championship Team of the Week – Round 5

A handful of Springbok stars willed their way into our Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 


A handful of Springbok stars willed their way into our Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

The grand occasion of the 100th Test between South Africa and New Zealand in Townsville on Saturday was the titanic tussle the rugby world had hoped for with the All Blacks snatching a thrilling 19-17 win at the death courtesy of iceman Jordie Barrett to clinch the Rugby Championship crown with a round to spare.

On the heels of the historic humdinger, the Wallabies made it three wins on the trot for the first time in four years as they ran out 27-8 victors over the Pumas. As a bonus, they boast seven representatives in our side. Five Springboks bulk up the team while the selection of a trio of star All Blacks was a case of quality over quantity.  

15: Jordie Barrett (New Zealand) – Player of the Week

Clutch all game! Had ice in his veins, slotting the difficult, long-range match-winner at the death to cap a perfect goal-kicking performance that saw him nail five from five for 14 points. Great under the high ball, defusing many a bomb with leaping takes, and elusive on attack, beating four defenders and making 53 metres in 11 carries. 

14: Andrew Kellaway (Australia)

Fast, feisty and read play expertly. Knew exactly when to put his foot on the accelerator, cut back infield, chip over the top and come off his wing to make an impact elsewhere. Made a great counter-attacking break (one of three) near the hour-mark and was rewarded with a try in the 69th minute. Racked up 85 metres in all. 

13: Len Ikitau (Australia)

The talented greenhorn continues to grow on the international stage and can be proud of his complete performance. Skilful and dangerous on attack, throwing a nice no-look pass, making two clean breaks and 47 metres while beating five would-be tacklers. Speaking of tackles, he made good on all four of his and chipped in a turnover as well. 

12: Samu Kerevi (Australia)

Wasted little time to stamp his authority on the game, breaking the line in the fourth minute, which led to the opening try, and never let up. The juggernaut scored his team’s second try and couldn’t be contained, the most memorable of his rampaging runs seeing him bulldoze Santiago Carreras and Gonzalo Bertranou back-to-back. Beat an unrivalled six defenders and powered to a round-high 90 metres. 

11: Makazole Mapimpi (South Africa)

While Marika Koroibete continued his good form, Mapimpi’s work as an aerial assassin meant more to the Springboks’ cause. Regained several of Faf de Klerk’s box kicks with superior determination and technique. Constantly looked for work, made metres despite having little room through dynamic leg drives and made a late try-saving tackle on Brad Weber.

10: Quade Cooper (Australia)

Pulled the strings with aplomb. Understated yet masterful decision-making with execution to match from the cool and clever veteran, including the dangerous dink that led to the second try. Faultless goal-kicking hammered Australia’s advantage home. 

9: Nic White (Australia)

Used the ideal ball his forwards game him to feed the backs, stab kicks into the corners and make a few darts, although, he was caught out by the rule change that you can no longer score by grounding the ball against the base of the post. Contributed a couple of telling tackles and was the stereotypically cheeky No.9.

8: Rob Valetini (Australia)

His back-and-forth heavyweight battle against Pablo Matera made for thunderous theatre. Both landed plenty of proverbial punches on both sides of the ball, with the Australian ace having a little more power and stamina. A willing and able ball-carrier (27 metres from eight runs) and outstanding on defence, making all 11 of his tackles (a team-best). 

7: Ethan Blackadder (New Zealand)

Brought into the starting line-up at the last minute after Luke Jacobson was ruled out and seized the opportunity in sensational fashion, starting with a statement-making turnover in the eighth minute. A peerless workhorse who led the tackle count in the epic clash (10), ran hard and featured prominently in the lineouts. 

6: Siya Kolisi (South Africa)

As the historic 100th Test against the All Blacks, it was more important than ever for Kolisi to lead from the front and he rose to the challenge in spades. Played with the fire of a thousand Springboks. Relentlessly shot up on defence like a bullet out of a gun with perfect timing, technique and great physicality to stop the Kiwis behind the gain line and force a ruck turnover in his 22 in the 17th minute. Made an important tackle on Will Jordan and effective direct surges.

5: Lood de Jager (South Africa)

A code-cracker extraordinaire, snatching two lineouts on the All Blacks’ throw, the first on his 5m line just after half-time. Matched his captain and Damian de Allende with a team-high nine tackles and was one of the Springboks’ most effective ball carriers (17 metres from five hit-ups). 

4: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

All four No.4s had hits and misses. That said, Etzebeth edged out the rest by making big plays such as the vital lineout steal in his 22 in the 38th minute and a smothering hit on opposite number Brodie Retallick, one of seven tackles by the Springbok enforcer.

3: Frans Malherbe (South Africa)

A blood and guts display from the big man. Gash to the forehead turned his face into a crimson mask, which seemingly fired him up even more. A dominant force at scrum time, where he smashed Joe Moody and won a few penalties, and put in good work in general play, including making a vital early tackle. Edged the barnstorming Taniela Tupou.

2: Codie Taylor (New Zealand)

Reminded that he’s one of the most athletic hookers in world rugby as he got the All Blacks off to the perfect start, displaying his agility and speed as he beat both Springbok locks and timed his pass to unmarked Jordan to perfection. Kept that energy for the duration of what was an outstanding overall outing.

1: James Slipper (Australia)

Drove a stake through the heart of the Pumas scrum as he devoured Santiago Medrano. Special mention must be made of Trevor Nyakane, who had a satisfactory showing in his 50th Test, while Steven Kitshoff brought the heat when he came on in the second half. 

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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