Autumn Internationals: Team of the Week 1

Fernandez Lobbe

1: CJ van der Linde (South Africa)
Van der Linde was part of a South African pack that bullied their Irish counterparts into submission in the second half on Saturday. The former Leinsterman knew all about the men he was facing, and turned the screw in the scrum to win penalties aplenty, also forcing Mike Ross into the ignominy of an early substitution. Mention to Yannick Forestier who looked more than comfortable on debut.

2: Andrew Hore (New Zealand)
Hore and Mealamu have been battling it out for the All Black no. 2 shirt for years, and a cameo off the bench from young Dane Coles proved he’s ready to compete for it also. Hore doesn’t look like he wants to give it up yet though, scoring a powerful try to cap off an excellent all round performance. Mention to Tom Youngs who went well on his England debut, although sterner tests await.

3: Nicolas Mas (France)
The French pack mullered the Aussies on Saturday evening, and the veteran tight-head Mas was on top form. Although he had left the pitch by the time the French won a penalty try, Mas was central to the effort that softened up the Australian front row in the first half.

4: Pascal Papé (France)
France’s was undoubtedly the performance of the weekend, and Papé deserves huge credit for the way he led a French line-up that contained a few relatively unknown names. Saint-André rightly praised his captain after the game for the way he has brought the squad together.

5: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The Saffas came with a clear game plan: to beat up the Irish in the forwards. They needn’t have worried about the absence of Bakkies Botha, a man renowned for his confrontational nature, because they seem to have unearthed someone equally as tenacious in young Etzebeth. He typified the South African forward effort on Saturday evening.

6: Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (Argentina)
His beautiful offload in the build-up to Juan Imhoff’s try capped a fine display from the Pumas’ captain. Wales were stifled by Argentina and Fernandez Lobbe, winning his 50th cap, led his team from the front, scything down red jerseys while carrying strongly in the loose.

7: Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
At 31 the All Blacks must be sweating about what they are going to do when McCaw retires. He combines the power of all great back row forwards with the tenacity on the floor that defined great sevens in the Neil Back mould. As a result he is not only very difficult to bring down with ball in hand, but is also a nuisance at every breakdown he gets to. And of course he possesses such a high level of fitness and work ethic that he gets to most of them.

8: Louis Picamoles (France)
The French man mountain completes a back row combination that would compete with any in the world right now. Nicknamed the ‘iceberg’ for all the strength he has in his bottom half, he used it all to drive into the heart of the Aussie underbelly on countless occasions, as well as scoring the opening try. Mention to Qera of Fiji who translated his fantastic Premiership form to the international stage at Twickenham.

9: Nicola Matawalu (Fiji)
Ruan Pienaar bossed his forwards around with typical authority, but Matawalu makes the team for his contribution to the Fijian effort. They were never going to win having had just two proper training sessions together and being depleted by injuries, but the diminutive Fijian was a live-wire all game, and scored a thoroughly deserved (almost) solo effort towards the end of the first half.

10: Dan Carter (New Zealand)
This was a master-class, the likes of which Scotland were just not capable of living with. One interception pass in the first half aside, Carter was faultless. He had a hand in most of New Zealand’s 6 tries, and broke the line with such ease that made you wonder if the Scots were just standing back in awe of the great man. A more complete back there hasn’t been for a very long time, if ever. Mention must go to the mercurial Michalak who also ran the show for France.

11: Gonzalo Camacho (Argentina)
Camacho may have adopted Devon as his home but there’s no doubt he’s fiercely Argentinian at heart. He was not at all daunted by facing the massive George North, and put in a fantastic tackle towards the end of the first half to put an end to a promising Wales attack. He grabbed a brilliant try too, taking a wild pass one-handed before finishing superbly despite the attention of a couple of Welsh defenders.

12: Tamati Ellison (New Zealand)
With Ma’a Nonu rested and SBW in exile to further his boxing career, it fell to third choice 12 Ellison to take on the Scots. And what would England give for one, let alone three, inside centres this good? He looked perfectly comfortable on the ball, possesses great feet, and was solid in defence. One beautiful offload to his centre partner stands out in the memory.

13: Manu Tuilagi (England)
There were moments when Tuilagi reminded us how young he still is, throwing daft passes that were never on and crabbing across the pitch when straightening up was needed. It wasn’t a vintage weekend for centre play, but the Samoan-come-Englishman reminded us why he is vital to England’s future with a brace of tries that showcased his brutish ability to trample over defences.

14: Charlie Sharples (England)
Lancaster has today been talking of the selection dilemma Sharples has given him off the back of this performance on Saturday. It is hard to see how he can be dropped. While Monye also grabbed a score, Sharples’ required a lot more finishing. In particular his first needed some quick feet and a strong surge to get to the line. Mention to the other Argentine winger, Juan Imhoff, is also called for, as he rounded Leigh Halfpenny without even a finger being laid on him.

15: Alex Goode (England)
Goode’s selection ahead of Mike Brown raised eyebrows in some parts, but now seems completely justified. With two centres that prefer to run through people rather than put others in space, Goode’s understanding of where that space is was invaluable. His ability to step in as first receiver takes a lot of the pressure off Toby Flood and allows him to play his natural game. He didn’t score himself but did contribute to most of England’s tries, especially when catching the Fijians napping to fizz a pass out for Monye to cross after a quick tap penalty.

By Jamie Hosie

28 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals: Team of the Week 1

  1. “At 31 the All Blacks must be sweating about what they are going to do when McCaw retires”
    No way, they have at least 2 opensides waiting to step into McCaw’s boots, and they will be just as good, if not better in a few years.

    1. I think Sam Cane is the understudy and he’s pretty handy. McCaw is something else though, one of the greatest players and leaders of all time, and they don’t come along that often.

      1. Completely agree on the McCaw front. They may many good 7’s coming through, Sam Cane is certainly one of them. But McCaw is almost irreplaceable. He is the complete 7.

  2. Visser? When did someone last score two tries against the All Blacks, Sharples scoring two against Fiji was not bad, surely two against All Blacks is far superior. Also competent in defence. Surely McCarthy as well?

    1. The first try he scored was an interception and he just took the pass and ran it in with no defenders to beat. The second try he only had to run about ten metres with no defenders to beat. In his position I would hope most wingers at this level could finish them off. Even Monye!! Also Visser was the last line of defence for two of the All Blacks tries, but didn’t lay a hand on the try scorer.
      On the contrary Sharples had to run round two defenders, and then took two to the line with him for his first try, and then a quick inside step and over for the second.
      He was also denied a third try because he couldn’t get control of an awkwardly bouncing ball after he chipped it down the touchline. If you compare the tries scored in this respect, I think it’s why Sharples got the nod. Maybe when England play the All Blacks in a few weeks, if Sharples is playing it could be a different story. But this week I think Sharples definitely wins this battle.

      1. I’m glad you agree. For me, Visser is probably the more complete winger, but this weekend there’s no doubt Sharples’ was a better performance. Visser had a couple of fairly regulation run-ins, but Sharples’ finishes were much more impressive, particularly the first one. Fiji are no NZ, granted, but that doesn’t change the fact that Sharples deserves to be in the team this week.

        1. I think after Sharples’ disappointment at getting injured last time he made the team, he really felt he had something to prove, and he did it. I just hope he can push on from that in the next few weeks.

          Also a big shout to Alex Goode who I think answered all the doubters regarding his selection over Brown. Brown may be a better full back, but Goode is a better all round footballer, and he made the difference for England.

  3. Yep, replace Sharples with Visser definitely. He was so good he looked like he should have been on the other team on Sunday, he wouldn’t shame himself in a Blacks shirt.

    A mention to Tipuric as yet again being the super sub.

    1. Tipuric was great when he came on, shame he only had 5 minutes to show how good he is. By my reckoning he made more turnovers in 5 minutes than Warburton did in 75. Not that he was close to McCaw, but if he had 80 minutes, then I’m sure he would acquit himself well. Just like he did in the 6 Nations when Warburton was injured.

    2. Well said Dazza. Any winger who knows the first thing about support lines could have run in Visser’s try.

      “He was so good he looked like he should have been on the other team on Sunday, he wouldn’t shame himself in a Blacks shirt.”

      Dear oh dear.

      1. “Any winger who knows the first thing about support lines could have run in Visser’s try” – yes, which is exactly why he is a great winger and why he is a try scoring machine. If you can’t see that then I guess you can get back to just being sarcastic.

        I remember being told a million times, when the rest of the world wasn’t wetting itself over Ashton (scorer of the official greatest try this century, snigger…), that it was precisely his ability to be on the shoulder of the attacking play that marked him out as a special talent.

        One could say “Any winger who’s spent his entire rugby life in academies could run around the Fiji defence” as a sarcastic dismissal of Sharples ability to follow in Cueto’s footsteps of being a try scoring legend against minnow teams, but I wouldn’t because I do think Sharples was quality; but tries against the ABs versus tries against Fiji wins for me.

        1. The reason Sharples is being tipped here is because he showed a wider range of skills than Visser.

          Visser showed pace for his first and you could say awareness to be in the space.

          Sharples showed he had pace, awareness (he scored one try on each wing so moved to find the space also) a good step and strength.

          Busting through three Fijians isn’t exactly easy, I don’t quite understand why it would carry little merit just because of their world ranking. Those guys are massive!

          1. That’s fine, and a balanced appraisal between the two. Other comments though have dismissd Visser as merely being a functional winger, in the right place at the right time (and further dismissing even that as a skill). As I said, I rate Sharples but I rate Visser more highly in general and because of the oppo in this case. This isn’t saying Fiji are easy/poor, but acknowledging the fact that hardly anyone scores 2 tries against the Kiwi’s right now.

  4. Monye didn’t score two! And he looked pretty short of ideas when faced with a defender – was hoping for so much more from him. I like Visser hugely and thought he had a tremendous game, but for the first try that Sharples scored, and the second that he nearly did, he definitely deserves to be in the team of the week.

  5. If anyone wants to remind themselves of why Monye is a runner and not a rugby winger watch the Lions first test again – running down the left wing with the ball under the right arm. Schoolboy error. Scoring chance butchered. Enough said. This isn’t the only thing he’s done, but it’s one of the most memorable in a career littered with demonstrations of why just being big and fast does not make you a rugby winger.

  6. I must admit we do love to bash the english sometimes. Agree that visser should be in ahead of sharples, Fiji and nz are worlds apart. I don’t think manu will ever have a profound impact on a game at 13. He’s about 3 or 5 yards short on pace for the outside break all world class 13s have. Still think he should be a twelve. I’ve always thought anyone who’s partnering Ashton is just keeping the shirt warm until Lancaster grows the balls to give wade a proper shot.

    1. James whilst NZ are clearly a far better team than Fiji, Sharples simply played better than Visser (who did not actually play badly).

      Without taking anything away from Tim Visser, any of the wings playing over the weekend would have scored the tries he did. I would put Imhoff ahead of Visser on the weekend’s performances.

  7. CJ van der Linde was already off when Mike Ross was substituted. Didn’t see the Irish scrum concede many penalties. Doesn’t really deserve a place.

      1. Didn’t see all of the other matches but Healy ran 15 mtrs to van der Lindes 1, made 9 tackles and missed 1, Van der Linde made 8 and missed 2, and finally made one turnover to Van der Lindes none.

  8. Ah, you’ve fallen for Brighty’s faux debate tactic. He has an ingrained hatred of anything English, hence balanced discussion with him on such matters is pointless.
    Best thing to do is ignore him really.

    1. Yep, I hate everything English. That’s why in my original post I agreed with the selections of Tuilagi and Goode, agreed that Sharples was quality, but said I would pick Visser instead. You saw right through my ploy though, it was all just part of my my wider racist plot to undermine England and bring down the pillars of civilisation … oh, hang on, this is just a rugby blog. This is that one where anyone who disagrees with Baz gets labelled a bigot. I remember now.

      1. Agree with Brighty. Just because he prefers Visser doesn’t mean hes anti English. Its not like he picked 1/2p over Goode.

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