Rugby Championship: Team of Round 2
Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, SA Rugby hands out praise to the stars of the Rugby Championship's second round.
15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand): Was back to his best on attack and constantly gained ground when he joined the All Blacks line. Dagg also proved a nightmare to the Wallabies when counter-attacking and made 77 metres with ball in hand.
14 Ben Smith (New Zealand): Showed once again why he is so highly rated by Steve Hansen and apart from two superb finishes also impressed with his positional play and defence. Is also the tournament's top try-scorer with five tries.
13 Marcelo Bosch (Argentina): Capped a fine allround performance with a well-taken try and was at the forefront of los Pumas' much improved showing against the Springboks in Mendoza. Bosch was arguably Argentina's best player and his powerful surges kept the visitors' defence on their toes throughout.
12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa): Another polished display from the Springbok captain, who makes our team for the second week in a row. De Villiers got over the advantage line on a couple of occasions and he also did his bit on defence with seven tackles made. Comes in ahead of Christian Lealiifano who was one of the Wallbies' best players in Wellington.
11 Israel Folau (Australia): Played on the rightwing but wears the number 11 jersey in our side after another impressive display with ball in hand. Had few opportunities on attack but when he managed to get his hands on the ball, he made the All Blacks pay by scoring a fine try.
10 Tom Taylor (New Zealand): Came into the All Blacks side under huge pressure, as their fourth-choice pivot, and on debut put in a solid display. Scored 14 points and did well in unleashing his dangerous outside backs. Also shone on defence with 10 hits. Beats out Morne Steyn of South Africa.
9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand): Was unlucky not to make our team last week but gets in this week after overshadowing Will Genia in Wellington. Smith played well with his pack and his fine service - especially early on - played a huge part in helping Taylor to settle in his first Test.
8 Kieran Read (New Zealand): This guy seldom plays a bad Test and this past weekend he was the best back-rower on display in the tournament. Was New Zealand's main ball-carrier winning 106 metres on attack but also impressed in other areas, making 13 tackles.
7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand): Had another epic battle with Michael Hooper but once again the All Blacks skipper just beats out the Wallabies tearaway. McCaw was a menace at the breakdowns but complimented that effort with a fine defensive display, making 14 tackles - the most by any player in Wellington
6 Steven Luatua (New Zealand): Another top class performance from the All Blacks rookie whose game is thriving alongside more experienced campaigners like Read and McCaw. The Aucklander made a massive impact in Wellington, being prominent in Ben Smith's tries and his two recent performances seems to have cemented his place in the All Blacks' starting XV.
5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand): Is growing into his role as the All Blacks' senior lock and made his presence felt against the Wallabies for the second successive week. Whitelock enjoys doing the dirt work for the world champions and impressed on defence with 11 hits and in the line-outs where he won a handful of balls.
4 Julio Farías Cabello (Argentina): Was los Pumas' go-to-man in the line-outs in Mendoza, with six clean takes. Also carried forcefully and did well on defence with five tackles made.
3 Owen Franks (New Zealand): Was part of the All Blacks front row who delivered a strong scrummaging performance but also impressed on defence, making nine tackles.
2 Adriaan Strauss (South Africa): Was on the field for just over 50 minutes but did his primary duties well and it will take a special effort from Bismarck du Plessis to displace him in South Africa's run-on side.
1 Tony Woodcock (New Zealand): Another solid display from the veteran in his 100th Test. Was the destroyer-in-chief at the scrums, pushing his direct opponent, Ben Alexander, back several metres, on a couple of occasions. Like Franks, he also caught the eye on defence making seven tackles.