Team of the Week

By Michael Cantillon

Last Updated: 24/06/18 8:00pm

Jonny May makes our team this week, but who joins him in our XV?

Jonny May makes our team this week, but who joins him in our XV?

Players from Test winners Ireland, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Japan all feature in our XV this week, with the Wallabies represented too.

Find out who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below…

15. Ben Smith (New Zealand)

There was no real standout full-back option this week, but Smith was as classy as he always tends to be.

The All Black scored New Zealand’s significant first try in their 49-14 victory over France on Saturday, and although the final score was emphatic, at that point, Les Bleus were firmly on top.

He also made 11 carries and was instrumental in a further two All Black tries.

14. Jonny May (England)

An easy decision on the right wing, as England’s May shone in Cape Town.

The 28-year-old scored a superb try to clinch the game, galloping after a skilful Danny Cipriani kick at searing speed to ground it before the dead-ball line.

In rain-soaked conditions, May showed up for 12 carries, made 69 metres with ball in hand and beat some seven defenders.

He also chipped in with six tackles – missing none – and earned one turnover. His try meant he scored in each of England’s three Tests against the Boks, and while it is not a tour which will be remembered fondly by his nation, May can be proud of his efforts over the three weeks.

Jonny May was on top form to help England pick-up their first ever win in Cape Town

Jonny May was on top form to help England pick-up their first ever win in Cape Town

13. Harumichi Tatekawa (Japan)

He may be more accustomed to the inside-centre role, but in the absence of any standout 13s over the weekend, we have shifted Japan’s Tatekawa out one to get him in the team.

Japan would have been immensely disappointed to lose out 25-22 to Italy the weekend before last, and they let it show against Georgia with a dominant 28-0 victory.

Tatekawa was pivotal in midfield as he carried relentlessly and tackled everything that moved. The 28-year-old carried the ball 17 times – more than anyone else – for 65 metres, made 12 tackles – third-most of any player – earned two turnovers and beat two defenders.

12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)

Aki would have been disappointed to miss Ireland’s second-Test victory over the Wallabies in Melbourne, but an injury to Garry Ringrose handed him a chance to come in again for the decider.

The Connacht centre was under pressure to deliver, and he did just that. Aki put together 10 carries, 13 tackles, two magnificent turnovers and beat three defenders in attack.

Ireland’s defence was rock solid as Aki and Robbie Henshaw formed a better and more organised midfield pairing than in the first Test. The 28-year-old was superb.

Ireland beat Australia 20-16 to secure a series win in one of the southern hemisphere's big three for the first time since 1979

Ireland beat Australia 20-16 to secure a series win in one of the southern hemisphere’s big three for the first time since 1979

11. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)

The All Blacks claimed a 3-0 series whitewash over France in Dunedin on Saturday, and, once again, it owed largely to a second-half blitz.

Central to that onslaught was Ioane, as the winger plundered a hat-trick past Les Bleus – the first treble of his senior career.

Ioane made 13 carries and beat six defenders as France struggled to contain his electric pace. His most telling stat was metres made as he earned a ludicrous 151 metres with ball in hand. And he is still only 21!

All Blacks completed a 49-14 victory over France in Dunedin to give them a 3-0 series sweep

All Blacks completed a 49-14 victory over France in Dunedin to give them a 3-0 series sweep

10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

It has been said many times before, but Ireland are a wholly different force with Sexton in the team.

The Leinster playmaker plays exceptionally flat to the line, creates chances and openings at will, is tough as teak defensively and tactically brilliant. He was all of that again against Australia in Sydney.

His kicking off the tee on Saturday – bar his conversion miss – was superb, with his late penalty from wide out not only a show of his excellent technique but of his mettle.

9. George Horne (Scotland)

Horne has shown what he can do for Glasgow Warriors and the Scotland 7s team, and on Saturday he showed what he is capable of at Test level in just his second Test start.

The 23-year-old is a phenomenal talent and has pace to burn. In Resistencia, it took him a little over a minute to register his first Test try as Scotland set about ripping Argentina apart.

His service from rucks was top class, while he made nine darts himself for 69 metres, and beat three defenders. He grabbed another try all of his own making when he chipped over to Adam Hastings and received the return pass to dive over.

He also never stopped working and running, contributing 12 tackles.

1. Joe Marler (England)

With Mako Vunipola leaving the tour after the second-Test defeat due to personal reasons, Marler had a chance to stake a claim in the third Test, and he did just that.

Nine tackles in a tight game was a super effort from the loosehead, while he also came up with one critical turnover within the England 22 to relieve pressure in the second half.

At scrum time he enjoyed a super day, while the most eye-catching stat was that he did not give away a single penalty throughout the match. Contrast this with Vunipola’s six in two Tests and the Saracens star’s place could be in jeopardy.

2. Tolu Latu (Australia)

Latu may only have played 40 minutes against Ireland on Saturday, having come on at half-time, but his impact was such that he is well worth the hooker slot.

The 25-year-old Tonga-born forward was a bundle of energy and physicality in his time on the pitch, with the Wallaby scrum improving immeasurably too.

He was 100 per cent accurate at the lineout, throwing seven out of seven, and was a real menace at the breakdown, jackaling or slowing ball relentlessly. Michael Cheika will have taken note for sure.

3. Kyle Sinckler (England)

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong is unlucky to miss out, but for his improvement in the space of a week, Sinckler takes the tighthead spot.

The Harlequins man was superb against the Boks in Cape Town and was a worthy contender for man of the match, such was the effort he put in.

Far more solid at scrum time, Sinckler and the England pack gained an advantage in this respect throughout the game, and in wet conditions, this proved crucial.

Vicious and clinical at the breakdown, Sinckler’s hands were also superb during the game. When he can keep his discipline, he is a super talent.

4. Scott Barrett (New Zealand)

When Brodie Retallick was ruled out of the All Blacks’ three-Test series with France this summer, there was concern in New Zealand owing to the Chiefs’ lock’s influence on the side.

Scott Barrett (middle) put in a superb all-round display on Saturday Scott Barrett (middle) put in a superb all-round display on Saturday

Scott Barrett (middle) put in a superb all-round display on Saturday

On Saturday, Barrett more than took up the mantle. The Crusader was everywhere as the All Blacks wrapped up a 3-0 series whitewash.

The 24-year-old made a tremendous 19 tackles, 10 carries, earned three turnovers, threw one offload, beat one defender, claimed two lineouts and made one steal. It was pretty much the complete display.

5. James Ryan (Ireland)

The second lock position came down to a straight shootout between South Africa’s 23-year-old RG Snyman and Ireland’s 21-year-old James Ryan, with both impressing once again.

In the end, Ryan’s outstanding stats for a second-row forward saw him get the nod.

He made 12 carries and 14 tackles in the victory – the third and fourth highest respectively for both of anyone on the pitch. His stamina really is remarkable.

6. CJ Stander (Ireland)

Man of the match as Ireland secured a first series victory over Australia since 1979, Stander’s performance was absolutely phenomenal.

The back-row made 16 carries – more than anyone else on the pitch – made 15 tackles – only Jack Conan made more with 16 – and earned 33 metres with ball in hand.

Stander also chipped in with one vital turnover and scored the all important try Ireland’s pressure had merited when he grounded the ball as part of a powerful maul drive.

With Dan Leavy out injured and Peter O’Mahony stretchered off early in the second half, the 28-year-old had to stand up and lead in the back-row. He responded by giving everything he had.

His exhaustion during the trophy presentation in Syndey tells you how much he gave.

CJ Stander was full of pride after Ireland's series win against Australia in Sydney

CJ Stander was full of pride after Ireland’s series win against Australia in Sydney

7. Tom Curry (England)

Lining out in the first Test against South Africa for England, Curry was just 19-years-old. He’s turned 20 since then, and on Saturday, performed to a standard wildly above his years.

The openside did not carry much ball at all, but that is not what he is on the pitch to do. He made 12 tackles, and earned two crucial turnovers in a highly-impressive breakdown display.

The Sky Sport panel discuss Tom Curry's strong performance against South Africa

The Sky Sport panel discuss Tom Curry’s strong performance against South Africa

8. David Pocock (Australia)

If you were picking a world XV at the moment, Pocock would gain a place somewhere in the back-row of most people’s teams.

Which position is, almost, immaterial at this point as he has demonstrated for Australia he can dominate games at six, seven or eight.

Making his name as a genuine openside, Pocock’s physicality is such that he thrived in the blindside shirt during the first Test and was equally as impressive wearing No 8 in defeat on Saturday.

David Pocock expressed Australia's disappointment after losing a nail-biting series-deciding game against Ireland

David Pocock expressed Australia’s disappointment after losing a nail-biting series-deciding game against Ireland

He is the best exponent at the breakdown in the world, and one of the greatest of all time. When he locks onto the ball, it is unbelievably difficult to remove him. Alongside that, his workrate and tackling stats are consistently unyielding. What a player.

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