The In The Loose team take a look at the Autumn internationals and choose their teams for both hemispheres. Dave Nicoll (DN), Debbie Knight (DK), Scott Fessey (SF) and Sam Varralls (SV) make their selections below;

autumn internationalsNH

1. Loosehead Prop – Joe Marler

1. Joe Marler (Eng)- When he played he was sturdy at Scrum time, got go forward with ball in hand and showed composure and a temperament that he lacked in the past. SV

1. Joe Marler – his best 3 games in an England shirt SF

1. Gethin Jenkins.  Jenkins won his 100th cap for his country against Argentina – hard to look past him for the number 1 shirt DK

1. Joe Marler – The game against the All Blacks finally showed that he is ready to make his mark on the international stage DN

2. Hooker – Dylan Hartley

2. Dylan Hartley(Eng)- Couldn’t fault Hartley. Gave England an attacking platform via a stable set piece. Potentially the best form of his life. Carried ball time and time again.  SV

2. Richard Hibbard – may look like flash gordon but a great ball carrier, strong in the tight and loose, great workrate SF

2. Richard Hibbard. Much as he needs a haircut, Hibbard is an accurate thrower and very mobile around the pitch DK

2. Dylan Hartley- It was no coincidence that the All Blacks got on the front foot once again when Hartley had to go off injured. Has made the England number 2 shirt his own this autumn.

3. Tighthead Prop – Dan Cole

3. Mike Ross (Ire)- Have been really impressed with Ross. Thought he did the basics effectively against the All Blacks. SV

3. Dan Cole – getting slowly back to his best, did well in all of the games. SF

3. Dan Cole.  A tough prop who isn’t necessarily that obvious on the pitch, he’s a tougha nod determined player DK

3. Dan Cole – Back to his scrummaging best, hard to argue against an all England front-row after their dominance. DN

4. Lock – Joe Launchbury

4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wal) Always contesting in the Line Out and leading from the front. Shoe in for the next Lions tour already… SV

4. Courtney Lawes – a strong few games and some great work around the park, Geoff parling will need to fight for his place back, lion or no lion. SF

4. Joe Launchbury. DK

4. Jim Hamilton – Once again a stand-out player in an average Scotland side. Puts his body on the line and makes a real nuisance of himself. DN

5. Lock – Courtney Lawes

5. Courtney Lawes (Eng)- Sublime. A muscle-bound giant who now has the skills and tactical mind of a potentially world-class player. Worked well alongside clubmen Hartley, Wood etc. SV

5. Joe Launchbury – Slowly coming into his own got some meat pies on the board, lot of unseen work in the loose and a good ball carrier SF

5. Courtney. Lawes.  Playing in a successful team has enhanced Lawes game he can only get better DK

5. Courtney Lawes – Finally made the impact at international level that we all knew he was capable of. DN

6. Blindside Flanker – Sean O’Brien

6. Sean O’Brien (Ire)- The Tullow Tank. He draws in defenders, makes metres and gets you on the front foot. Outstanding. SV

6. Sean O’Brien – solid, strong and mobile, love his style of play SF

6. Tom Wood. DK

6. Sean O’Brien – Further proved that he is one of the best back-rowers currently playing DN

7. Openside Flanker – Chris Robshaw

7. Chris Robshaw (Eng)- Led an England team who overall, had a successful Autumn Test Series. Never noticeable, which his best characteristic. Turned over ball and an extraordinary work rate, making tackle after tackle. SV

7. Chris Robshaw – captain dependable, might not do the flashy stuff but the stuff he does is golden, doesn’t miss many tackles and not afraid to have a go! SF

7. Chris Robshaw.  Robshaw proved his credentials as captain, being part of a victorious team puts him ahead of Sam Warburton at 7 DK

7. Chris Robshaw – Proved once again that he really is the outstanding candidate for the England 7 shirt. A leader on the pitch who gets involved everywhere.

8. Number 8 – Billy Vunipola

8. Billy Vunipola (Eng)- A star is born. Continuously gained yards whether it was off the back of a Scrum or from the restart. Defensively choked attackers or took them backwards! SV

8. Toby Faletau – a great mobile number 8, good ball carrier and can do the flashy stuff if needed SF

8. Billy Vunipola.  A risk to play a 20 year old as first choice, but Billy seems to have sorted out his penalty giving ways; he had a great AI series DK

8. Billy Vunipola – really laid down a marker for the England 8 jersey, could be the incumbent for years to come. DN

9. Scrum Half – Mike Phillips

9. Morgan Parra (Fra)- Didn’t see too much of Parra, but with one Man of the Match it was evident his game management and consistency helped the French gain some wins. SV

9. Connor Murray – form number 9 in the NH for me, quick around the park, good service and big enough to use as an extra back row if needed. SF

9. Mike Phillips.  At 6ft 2 an unusual scrum half, he played with power and skill (the stamp should maybe exclude him) DK

9. Mike Phillips – Despite his club issues still has the ability to turn it on for Wales, just a shame about that stamp. DN

10. Fly Half – Remi Tales

10. Remi Tales (Fra)- Incredibly composed considering his previously non-existent  International experience. Stood very flat and challenged defences. Attacking threat that can unleash Fofana and Fickou. SV

10. Jonny Sexton – reliable boot, good distribution. SF

10. Owen Farrell. I think Owen pipped his Lions rival in the AI’s possibly because of the team around him. A player for the big game DK

10. Remi Tales – Looks like France may finally have found an option at 10 who offers some genuine attacking threat.

11. Left Wing – George North

11. George North (Wal)- Only 21. Now almost a veteran in a Wales jersey, North once again made game changing differences and helped Wales to what should’ve been a win against the Wallabies. Exceptional footwork for a man of his stature. SV

11. George North – great game against Australia, scored 2 great tries, big in defence also SF

11. George North.  Never in doubt, it seems North is as comfortable in the centres as he is on the wing; he is simply awesome! DK

11. George North – Is there any other? No matter what the situation he almost always seems capable of doing something special.

12. Inside Centre – Wesley Fofana

12. Gordon D’Arcy (Ire)- D’Arcy’s beard seems to have inspired him. Defensively strong and managed to create a lot of opportunities for Ireland in the midfield. SV

12. Wesley Fofana – really struggled here so just went him! SF

12. Wesley Fofana   I struggled to pick my centres, hard to look past this strong Frenchman DK

12. Wesley Fofana – A real attacking threat who also put in some excellent defensive displayes DN

13. Outside Centre – Brian O’Driscoll

13. Scott Williams (Wal)- With Roberts out, Williams stepped up after fine form in a Scarlets shirt. Powerful and dynamic, he helped Wales ‘manage’ in the Centres with Davies injured early on. SV

13. Brian ODriscoll – still got it, however not much to choose from the other teams SF

13. Brian O’Driscoll. No obvious contender, I have no doubts Jonathan Davies would have taken this shirt; in his absence I’m going with sentiment DK

13. Brian O’Driscoll – Once again the evergreen BOD was central to lots of the better parts of Ireland’s series. DN

14. Right Wing – Dave Kearney

14. Dave Kearney (Ire)- He’s in because of his introduction to the International scene. 2 tries on his debut and composed against the All Blacks. Great teamwork between him and Rob, obviously. SV

14. Tommy Bowe – again no real out and outs for me….. SF

14. Sean Maitland.  With Alex Cuthbert missing for a few games and the England wingers being less than impressive my only Scotsman, a speedy winger with good hands DK

14. Dave Kearney – Looked excellent against the All Blacks and seems a genuine contender for a spot on the wing for the 6 nations.

15. Full Back – Mike Brown

15. Mike Brown (Eng)- Almost perfection over the AIs. Epic under the high ball, beat numerous defenders and defensively kept threats at bay. Must be a shoe in for the RWC 2015 team already! SV

15. Mike Brown – Man of the series for England, no one better in the NH in the air cemented place in Englands back 3 now. SF

15. Mike Brown. The first name on my SH team sheet Mike Brown showed why he should have been starting in the no 15 shirt for England in the 6 Nations, a man of the match performance in most of the games DK

15. Mike Brown – Currently in the form of his life, Brown always made yards for England whilst looking defensively solid. DN


Loosehead Prop – Tendai Mtawarira

1. Tendai Mtawarira (SA)- The Beast is on form once again. Developing each game in the loose, and as dominant as ever in the scrummage. SV

1. Tendai Mtawarira – beast of a man (see what i did there) good strong solid scrummager SF

1. Tendai Mtawarira DK

1. Tendai Mtawarira – The Beast is one of the stand-out looseheads in world rugby. DN

2. Hooker – Bismarck Du Plessis

2. Bismarck Du Plessis (SA)- Such an aggressive, ruthless player. Hits the contact hard and makes offloads that turn defences. Awesome for the BaaBaa’s too! SV

2. Bismarck Du Plessis – great mobile hooker, fast and strong in the loose play good in the tight. SF

2. Bismarck Du Plessis.  Perhaps the best hooker in the world, again I didn’t see much of his series, so going on reports  DK

2. Bismarck Du Plessis – Man mountain Du Plessis seems to be winding back the years. Amazing what a game changer he was for a hooker. DN

3. Tighthead Prop – Sekope Kepu

3. Sekope Kepu (Aus)- Australian’s can’t scrummage apparently. Kepu showed that he can hold his own. He did give away a few Penalties but, made turnovers and slowed attacks down. Has improved massively. SV

3. Charlie Faumuina  – a great tour for the kiwi “rookie”  SF

3. Owen Franks. DK

3. Sekope Kepu – It is no coincidence that Australia’s scrum seems to have stabilised since Kepu became a regular in the front row.

4. Lock – Eben Etzebeth

4. Eben Etzebeth (SA)- Enforcer mark 2. He has had a wonderful year generally! Becoming a rounded player who is dominant in the air. SV

4. Eben Etsebeth – Strong scrummager, good line out technician. SF

4. Eben Etzebeth. Etzebeth at 22 plays as if he’s been an international for years, he’s a scary prospect for the future. DK

4. Eben Etzebeth – Amazing the performances this guy puts in for someone so young. Seems destined to be a Springbok captain sooner rather than later. DN

5. Lock – Sam Whitelock

5. Sam Whitelock (NZ)- Also another fantastic year. Fabulous handling skills for a forward. The steady Second Row for New Zealand, for years to come. SV

5. Sam Whitelock – Good in the loose, mobile and a good line out attacker SF

5. James Horwill.  Being relieved of the captain’s badge has revived Horwill’s game, back to his very best. DK

5. Sam Whitelock – Another strong series for the All Blacks second rower.

6. Blindside Flanker – Liam Messam

6. Juan Martin Leguizamon (Arg)- It wasn’t a great Autumn Series for Argentina, nor Summer, yet with Lobbe out Leguizamon took the Captaincy and just worked and worked. Committed to the cause and stepped up to the plate. Had to be included. Messam was also sublime! SV

6. Willem Alberts – Strong ball carrier, does a lot of unseen work. SF

6. Liam Messam.  It’s very hard not to pick 15 All Blacks with the season they’ve had DK

6. Duane Vermeulen – The Springbok back-rower has emerged as one of the outstanding talents in world rugby this year. DN

7. Openside Flanker – Michael Hooper

7. Michael Hooper (Aus)- Don’t know why this guy hasn’t received more plaudits this season. Turnover after turnover, tackle after tackle and even beats defenders. A real pace merchant who is seriously pushing Pocock. SV

7. Richie McCaw – still world class, gets everywhere. I imagine he is a right pain in the arse to play against. SF

7. Michael Hooper.  First SH player on my team sheet; Australia seem to have a knack of producing world class flankers at 7, Hooper is a player who seems to be everywhere on the field! DK

7. Michael Hooper – Tries, tackles, turnovers, Hooper was all over the pitch for Australia and looks the form 7 in world rugby. DN

8. Number 8 – Kieran Read

8. Kieran Read (NZ)- He isn’t the best player of the year and potentially world for no reason. Almost a perfect year. He reads situations and sees things others can’t. SV

8. Kieran Read – the worlds best no 8, makes it look so easy. SF

8.  Kieran Read.  Player of the year, Read showed why he is worthy of the title, he appeared more winger than forward at Twickenham, making one try and scoring another DK

8. Kieran Read – The IRB player of the year was outstanding once again during the series, off-loads, tries and all-round gameplay were superb.

9. Scrum Half – Fourie Du Preez

9. Fourie Du Preez (SA)- Brought in from time in Japan, and he reignited his old International form, helping SA to some classy victories. SV

9. Fourie de Preez – True world class, great vision and a razor sharp pass. SF

9.  Fourie Du Preez hard pressed to pick a scrum half and I must confess I didn’t see much of South Africa, reports seem to put Du Preez at the top of the scrum half pile. DK

9. Fourie Du Preez – Another Springbok winding back the years. DN

10. – Fly Half – Quade Cooper

10. Quade Cooper (Aus)- Glad McKenzie favours Cooper. His mentality off the pitch seems to have improved and this has been evident on the turf. Frightens defences and can offload from anywhere in every way. Best Fly Half at the moment. SV

10. Aaron Cruden – a great understudy to DC, calm, good vision and a good boot on him. SF

10. Quade Cooper.  And how different would the Lions your been if this man ha played? A magician on the ball, the occasional moment of madness, but worth it for the magic DK

10. Quade Cooper – Seems to have really stepped up his game this Autumn, looking back to his best once again. DN

11. Left Wing – Julian Savea

11. Nick Cummins (Aus)- The Honey  Badger deserved multiple tries against the Welsh. Really has made the 11 shirt his own. Terrific change of pace and effective boshing technqiue! SV

11. Julian Savea – A proven finisher, strong and powerful loves scoring tries. SF

11. Julian Savea.  The first All Black to score 3 tries on his debut in 2012, he’s carried on with the theme, a try scoring machine, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him. DK

11. Julian Savea – Seems capable of scoring tries for fun. DN

12. Inside Centre – Ma’a Nonu

12. Ma’a Nonu (NZ)- Nonu can now kick!? He is playing the best rugby of his career and scythes through defences. Him and Read were the real game winners for NZ. SV

12. Jean de Villiers – great reader of the game, solid and depandable in the midfield, gets in the right place at the right time. SF

12. Ma’a Nonu.  How can this man get better? By introducing kicking into his game! Sheer brilliance. DK

12. Ma’a Nonu – Stepped into the first receiver role on a number of occasions and showed an excellent kicking game. DN

13. Outside Centre – Ben Smith

13. Ben Smith (NZ)- Didn’t score much compared to the Rugby Championship, but he still created chances and helped NZ play the wide game. Put the likes of Savea and Piutau over the gain line and whitewash. SV

13. Ma’a Nonu – matured into one of the worlds best now. SF

13. Christian Lealifano. A tough choice here, Jean De Villiers and Ben Smith are both immense players, Lealifano gets my pick for his flair and kicking prowess DK

13. Ben Smith – Still think his strongest position is out on the wing but showed touches of magic at 13 and looks an able deputy until the return of his brother Conrad. DN

14. Right Wing – JP Pietersen

14. JP Pietersen (SA)- Scores were plentiful. Was clinical and worked well with Willie Le Roux. SV

14. Bryan Habana – Still got gas to burn, lethal when in space SF

14. J P Pietersen.  It seems that where England in particular struggle at the moment the SH have a wealth of choice; picked for his consistency DK

14. Willie Le Roux – Had a fantastic series with some elusive runs and perfectly placed kicks. DN

15. – Full Back – Israel Folau

15. Israel Folau (Aus)- Is Folau perhaps the greatest cross-coder ever? It’s like he has been playing Union forever. Best 15 in the air, best 15 on the attack and one of the best boots. Has numerous tries too, 10 in 15. Incredible! SV

15. Israel Folau – Imperious in the air, great counter attacker a great find for Australia. SF

15. Israel Folau.  A player to strike fear into the opposition his previous incarnation as both a rugby league and Aussie Rules player are obvious in his game. An exciting player to watch DK

15. Israel Folau – Another stand-out series for the league convert. His ability to leap into the air and claim balls is unparalleled.