With the first weekend of international action over, we take a look at the star performers in this weeks Autumn Internationals Team of the Week;
Irish loosehead McGrath is ensuring both his province and national side aren’t missing Cian Healy too much after he put in another top class performance. He held his own against an experienced Springboks front row in the scrum whilst being incredibly effective in the loose.
England may not have had the best of performances this weekend, however Hartley stood out, particularly for his line-out throwing which was at 100%. He made sure to lead by example and was busy around the field and covered a great deal of the pitch.
Lee is more than justifying Warren Gatland’s decision to drop Adam Jones after a fine performance against the Wallabies. Whilst Australia aren’t renowned for their scrum, Lee made James Slipper look like an amateur during the sides clash this weekend.
The hard man of Irish rugby was once again at the very forefront of everything Ireland did well as they overcame the Springboks. O’Connell continues to defy time as he got himself about the pitch and involved in breaking up the Springboks rhythm all afternoon.
Both Gray brothers performed exceptionally well for Scotland this weekend scoring a try-apiece, however Jonny edges in ahead of his elder brother Richie for his work around the field. He made his physical presence known against a tough Argentinian pack and helped get Scotland on the front foot.
McCaw still remains the absolute master of the breakdown as he won turnovers and disrupted England’s ball at every opportunity. McCaw was named man of the match against England after another fine performance that showed how far England still have to go to compete.
Both Hooper and opposite number Sam Warburton had top games for their respective sides this weekend, however Hooper just nudges it. He was his sides top tackler and helped contribute to one of the Wallabies tries whilst still throwing himself into challenges after the 80th minute.
The Irish number 8 seemed to do just about everything right during his side’s win over the Springboks. Heaslip carried well, made his tackles, got involved at the breakdown and generally disrupted the Boks ball throughout the entire game.
Murray is fast becoming one of the most complete scrum halves in the Northern Hemisphere. He helped keep a good tempo for the Irish backline whilst marshalling around his forwards and putting in solid kicks when necessary. His partnership with Sexton is continuing to improve as well.
Sexton is fast becoming the new poster boy of Irish rugby as fans around the country look for someone to take the mantle from Brian O’Driscoll. He was on target with all his kicks at goal whilst keeping the Boks pinned back in their own half for long periods with his inch perfect tactical kicking game.
There haven’t been too many things for French rugby fans to get excited about in recent years, however Teddy Thomas may just be one of them. The debutant scored a hat-trick on his debut and looked sharp throughout, he will definitely be one to watch over the next 12 months.
Henshaw may not have had too much opportunity to show what he can do going forward during Ireland’s victory over the Springboks, but he proved more than capable of standing up to experienced South African centre Jean de Villiers as he made his tackles and remained solid throughout.
Another French debutant, Dumoulin may not have had quite the impact of Thomas during his side’s victory over Fiji, however he ran good lines and made yards for his side which is exactly what Les Bleus have been missing in recent years.
Smith has become one of the most impressive backs in world rugby over the last couple of years, and this weekends game with England went some way to show why. His tactical positioning was spot on whilst he chased balls effectively and put pressure on the English defence at every opportunity.
Folau once again proved to be the Wallabies star man as he ran in two tries to ensure they continued their winning run over Wales. Folau was dangerous throughout providing a constant threat combining pace and impressive footwork to keep the Welsh defence on their toes.
Agree with our team of the week?