RUCK’s Team of the Week: Armitage, Carter, McCaw, McGrath
Rugby World Cup winners New Zealand dominate the selection with six players picked
Toulon’s Steffon Armitage showed England selectors what they were missing with superb hat-trick
Dan Cole, Jackson Wray and David Halaifonua impress for their clubs in round 3 of the Aviva Premiership
Mathieu Lamoulie and Baptiste Serin are in after fantastic performances from the tee in the Top 14
Pro 12 stars Jack McGrath and Leone Nakarawa are selected in the pack
With New Zealand winning the Rugby World Cup, there are six All Blacks in this week’s selection with the top performers from the AVIVA Premiership, Guinness Pro12 and Top 14 making up the numbers.
Fullback- MATHIEU LAMOULI (Agen)
The Agen number 15 scored a crucial try for his side as the relegation favourites overcame the odds to defeat reigning champions Stade Francais in the Top 14 on Saturday. The fullbacks ability under the high ball and strong tackling also played a crucial role in ensuring the bottom of the table side held on for the unexpected win.
Wing- DAVID HALAIFONUA (Gloucester)
The Tongan enjoyed a standout game for Gloucester as they overcame local rivals, Worcester. His ability to break tackles and get over the gain line in attack, as well as his willingness to put his body on the line in defence, made him the standout figure for the Cherry and Whites. To top off his impressive performance, he scored the game-winning try which saw Gloucester move up into third place in the Aviva Premiership.
Other contenders: Nehe Milner Skudder (New Zealand), JP Pietersen (South Africa)
Centre- CONRAD SMITH (New Zealand)
Although Smith was replaced at half-time, his display in the opening 40 was nothing short of outstanding.
Centre- MA’A NONU (New Zealand)
On what was likely his final outing for the All Blacks, Nonu created history with his stunning 55m run for the second try two minutes after the restart. But that was just the garnish on top of a world-class performance of pace, power and precision.
Wing- TIERNAN O’HALLORAN (Connacht)
Although the utility back started at fullback, we have accommodated him in our team on the wing due to his consistency in recent weeks. His winning score proved to be the only try of the game as Connacht held on for a close 14-9 win over Edinburgh at the Sportsground.
Fly-half- DAN CARTER (New Zealand)
The most complete player we’ve ever seen. His performance in the World Cup final was nothing short of exceptional with his accurate kicking ensuring the All Blacks led from start to finish. After missing out on the 2011 victory through injury, nobody deserved to get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup more than this legendary number 10.
Other contenders: Owen Williams (Leicester Tigers), Nick Evans (Harlequins), Carlo Canna (Zebre)
Scrum-half- BAPTISTE SERIN (Bordeaux)
The scrum-half’s 21-point haul from the tee was enough to snatch Bordeaux a narrow victory against La Rochelle. The former France Under 20 international stole the show, kicking seven penalties, including four in the second half.
Other contenders: Tomas O’Leary (Munster), Will Genia (Australia)
Prop- JACK MCGRATH (Leinster)
The young Irish prop impressed when called upon during the RWC and has carried that form on into the Pro 12. The strong scrummager was the man of the match for Leinster this weekend in their bonus-point win against Treviso and scored the opening try for his side after just three minutes.
Hooker- DANE COLES (New Zealand)
The hooker rarely fails to impress. His Immaculate line-out throwing, solid scrummaging, and the odd flash of his lightning feet made him one of the All Blacks best performers in the final. He also made more than a few tackles too, a couple of which were critical, especially when Australia seemed to have momentum in the second half.
Prop- DAN COLE (Leicester Tigers)
The England prop made his first start of the season for Leicester as they narrowly overcame Wasps on Sunday. Cole looked like he had never been away, scrummaging relentlessly and winning one crucial turnover from Wasps former Wallaby George Smith.
Lock- BRODIE RETALLICK (New Zealand)
The towering lock put in a solid afternoon of work for the All Blacks in the final, completing carry after carry and battling to win key turnovers for the All Blacks in both halves. Big hit after big hit and a stolen line-out showed that the second-row was back to his near best, which is world class. Remember he is only 24, suggesting there are many exciting times still to come from the second-row.
Other contenders: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
Lock- LEONE NAKARAWA (Glasgow Warriors)
Nakarawa came back from his World Cup heroics with Fiji to inspire Glasgow Warriors to a sparkling triumph.The Fijian star produced a trademark display of basketball skills to foil the Ospreys and kick-start his side’s Pro12 title defence quest at Scotstoun.
Flanker- JACKSON WRAY (Saracens)
Wray crossed for a try after a catch-and-drive to help Saracens continue their 100 per cent start to the season with a 24-14 win against London Irish. The result made it three wins out of three for the reigning champions.
Flanker- RICHIE MCCAW (New Zealand)
Probably the greatest flanker of all time is greatest when the stage is at its highest. McCaw rolled back the years with this almost-perfect performance and, and as a result, became the first Captain to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup on two occasions. He deserves to be in team fo the century never mind our team of the week.
Other contenders: Akapusi Qera (Montpellier)
Number 8- STEFFON ARMITAGE (Toulon)
England refused to pick him for the Rugby World Cup but that hasn’t stopped the monstrous back-row from continuing to cause havoc in the Top 14. The Number 8 scored a super hat-trick as Toulon were narrowly beaten 33-29 by Grenoble. Although the 30-year-old was on the losing side, his individual display earns him a spot in our team.