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Team of November: Southern stamp

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:57
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There was only place for one northern hemisphere player
Quote-end

The southern hemisphere giants stamped their authority in Europe in November, and they duly dominate our team of the year-end Tests.

New Zealand, South Africa and Australia top the IRB rankings, and they showed just why in Europe with the Wallabies' loss to England at Twickenham the only defeat for any of the top three.

There was only place for one northern hemisphere player in our starting XV, as experienced French tighthead Nicolas Mas cracked the nod to avoid a complete southern shut-out.

After returning home without losing a game, the All Blacks and Springboks have five players each in our side, whilst the Wallabies and the Pumas contributed two each.

There is more European representation in our 'bubbling under' side, with three players from France, two from England and one each from Wales and Ireland making the side along with three Springboks, three All Blacks and two Wallabies.

Our team of November:

15 - Israel Folau (Australia):
Proved that he can be a threat anywhere in the world by showing off some dazzling skills on the heavy European pitches. His ability in the air is unmatched and he always makes things happen with the ball in hand.
Bubbling under: Willie le Roux (South Africa)

14 - Charles Piutau (New Zealand)
Competition for places in the All Blacks backline is fierce, and he has made it even tougher by showing that he belongs at this level. His finishing was clinical as he grabbed most of the chances that came his way.
Bubbling under: JP Pietersen (South Africa)

13 - Ben Smith (New Zealand)
He might still be finding his feet at outside centre, but his class shone through to show that he could become a worthy successor to Conrad Smith in the All Black No.13 jersey.
Bubbling under: Florian Fritz (France)

12 - Jean de Villiers (South Africa)
The Bok captain found some of the best form of his career this year, he still has plenty of pace and hardly misses a tackle whilst his communication and organisation are top class.
Bubbling under: Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand)

11 - Julian Savea (New Zealand)
The All Black powerhouse must be one of the most fearsome runners in the game today and he has also turned his previous weakness under the high ball into something of a strength.
Bubbling under: George North (Wales)

10 - Quade Cooper (Australia)
After being snubbed by Robbie Deans for the British and Irish Lions series Cooper has bounced back well, and has taken on a more senior role under Ewen McKenzie which has had a positive influence on his game.
Bubbling under: Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)

9 - Fourie du Preez (South Africa)
The Bok general reminded everyone just what made him the best in the business. His accuracy and decision-making make him far more than just a link between forwards and backs - he dictates matters when he is on the field.
Bubbling under: Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

8 - Kieran Read (New Zealand)
Duane Vermeulen and Sergio Parisse are great players, but they cannot match Read who is simply in a class of his own. He mixes power and skill perfectly which makes him a threat in all areas.
Bubbling under: Duane Vermeulen (South Africa)

7 - Willem Alberts (South Africa)
The Bok battering ram leaves a trail of bodies in his wake whether on attack or defence and he certainly made his presence felt in Europe with his usual buffet of big hits and meaty carries.
Bubbling under: Michael Hooper (Australia)

6 - Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Argentina)
Stepped up to skipper the Pumas in the absence of Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and led by example, with his tireless work ethic and commitment standing out.
Bubbling under: Thierry Dusautoir (France)

5 - Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
His line-out work is superb, but it is his work around the park that impresses the most. He gets through an incredible amount of tackles and has the pace of a loose forward.
Bubbling under: Courtney Lawes (England)

4 - Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The Bok giant has firmly established himself as one of the best in the world and fully deserves his IRB player of the year nomination. Never one to compromise on physicality he has finally broken down and will take a well-earned break next year as he recovers from his ankle surgery.
Bubbling under: Pascal Pape (France)

3 - Nicolas Mas (France)
The French may be in some dicey form, but one area that is as strong as ever is their scrum which is anchored by the experienced Mas. He is proof of the adage that tightheads are like fine wines that get better with age.
Bubbling under: Dan Cole (England)

2 - Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa)
The Bok battleship keeps producing the goods and has become something of a breakdown specialist on top of his fearsome physicality in the tight and loose exchanges.
Bubbling under: Stephen Moore (Australia)

1 - Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
The Pumas have battled this year but their scrum has been very impressive and Ayerza has got the better of most of the tightheads he has faced.
Bubbling under: Cian Healy (Ireland)

Our individual selections:

Paul Dobson XV:
15 Israel Folau, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Cian Healy.

Quintin van Jaarsveld XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 George North, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Michael de Vries XV: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Previous selections:

Team of the Week - November, Round Four:
15 Rob Kearney (Ireland), 14 JP Pietersen (South Africa), 13 Ben Smith (New Zealand), 12 Wesley Fofana (France), 11 Julian Savea (New Zealand), 10 Quade Cooper (Australia), 9 Conor Murray (Ireland), 8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa), 7 Sean O'Brien (Ireland), 6 Juan Manual Leguizamón (Argentina), 5 Flip van der Merwe (South Africa), 4 Pascal Pape (France), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen (South Africa), 2 Stephen Moore (Australia), Cian Healy (Ireland).

Team of the Week - November, Round Three: 15 Willie le Roux (South Africa), 14 Charles Piutau (New Zealand), 13 Ben Smith (New Zealand), 12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa), 11 Julian Savea (New Zealand), 10 Quade Cooper (Australia), 9 Mike Phillips (Wales), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Michael Hooper (Australia), 6 Francois Louw (South Africa), 5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand), 4 Rob Simmons (Australia), 3 Dan Cole (England), 2 Stephen Moore (Australia), 1 James Slipper (Australia).

Team of the Week - November, Round Two: 15 Brice Dulin (France), 14 Cory Jane (New Zealand), 13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia), 12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa), 11 Nick Cummins (Australia), 10 Quade Cooper (Australia), 9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 8 Kieran Read (New Zealand), 7 Willem Alberts (South Africa), 6 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 5 Courtney Lawes (England), 4 Joe Launchbury (England), 3 Nicolas Mas (France), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina).

Team of the Week - November, Round One: 15 Mike Brown (England), 14 Charles Piutau (New Zealand), 13 Ben Smith (New Zealand), 12 Francis Saili (New Zealand), 11 Frank Halai (New Zealand), 10 Daniel Carter (New Zealand), 9 Fumiaki Tanaka (Japan), 8 Billy Vunipola (England), 7 Chris Robshaw (England), 6 Tom Wood (England), 5 James Horwill (Australia), 4 Jeremy Thrush (New Zealand), 3 Dan Cole (England), 2 Shota Horie (Japan), 1 Mako Vunipola (England).

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