No Wallaby or Puma makes my Rugby Championship ‘Best XV’ after four rounds. What’s your team look like?
The All Blacks and Springboks have been the most consistent and best performers, with the New Zealanders the dominant side. There are 10 All Blacks and five Springboks in my Rugby Championship starting XV.
Keo’s Rugby Championship XV (to be revisited at the end of the competition)
15 – Israel Dagg (New Zealand)
Fullback has been a position that hasn’t produced anything special on a consistent basis. Willie le Roux had one good game, Dagg had two influential games, Israel Folau hasn’t seen much ball and Zane Kirchner was good in Brisbane and not particularly good in Auckland. Pumas fullback Juan Martin Hernandez is a shadow of the player who starred at flyhalf in the 2007 World Cup.
14 – Ben Smith (New Zealand)
Willie le Roux was good in Brisbane but for consistency and impact the Kiwi has been potent.
13 – Conrad Smith (New Zealand)
He has been in a class of his own.
12 – Jean de Villiers (South Africa)
De Villiers is a class act and his closest challenger Ma’a Nonu, is a class thug.
11 – Julian Savea (New Zealand)
Bryan Habana has shown touches but not the consistency of Savea
10 – Morne Steyn (South Africa)
The Bok flyhalf was very good in three of the four matches. There’s been nothing coming from Australia or Argentina and Aaron Cruden, Tom Taylor and Beudan Barrett all produced good one-off performances. Dan Carter played only 71 minutes in the Championship.
9 – Aaron Smith (New Zealand)
For consistency and impact over the four rounds it has to be the Kiwi.
8 – Kieran Read (New Zealand)
Duane Vermeulen has been very good but Read has been colossal.
7 – Steven Luatua (New Zealand)
Lobbe (Argentina) and Alberts (South Africa) have had their moments but Luatua, over the four games, has been imposing and present.
6 – Francois Louw (South Africa)
Richie McCaw did heaps in the first three games and Michael Hooper has been the best of the Australians. The most consistent performer, over four matches, is South Africa’s Louw.
5 – Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
This guy has the potential to be the Victor Matfield of New Zealand locks.
4 – Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
He got lost a bit in Mendoza but other than that he has been excellent.
3 – Owen Franks (New Zealand)
He remains the most complete of all the tightheads in the competition.
2 – Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa)
He only needed to start two matches to show how monumental he is in the position. There’s Bismarck in world rugby and then there’s a chasing pack of hookers.
1 – Tony Woodcock – New Zealand
The loose-head prop Centurion continues to deliver consistency and whenever his position is questioned he produces a massive game.