Monday 23 October 2017 / 12:36 AM

2017 RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP FORM XV

RYAN FRISBY names his composite XV from the recently completed 2017 Rugby Championship.

  1. Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)

The ‘Beast’ has been around the block a few times and it has shown this Rugby Championship – in a good way. He dominated the Australian and Argentinean scrums and didn’t let Kiwi tighthead Nepo Laulala get on top of him at all.

  1. Malcolm Marx (South Africa)

This position was a three-way tie between Marx, Dane Coles and Augustin Creevy until the final game of the campaign. Marx stepped up big time and was quite easily the man of the match, despite being in a losing team. His defence, strength over the ball and attacking skill and power, has given him the nod here.

  1. Nepo Laulala (New Zealand)

Laulala got his opportunity due to injuries to All Black mainstays Owen Franks and Joe Moody. Strong at scrum-time, while he impressed most in defence, where he constantly drove ball-runners back.

  1. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

He always seems to play second fiddle to his mate Brodie Retallick, but Whitelock was huge in this Championship. Only missed one game and was excellent around the park as always.

  1. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

Struggled a little bit to start the Championship but was captain courageous to finish the campaign. Just watch his highlights against the All Blacks in the final Test.

  1. Liam Squire (New Zealand)

Although Vaea Fifita and the boys from South Africa played well, Squire was in a league of his own. Took all the hard hit-ups, the ones no one else wants to take. He was tough and elusive at the same time.

  1. Michael Hooper (Australia)

Hooper is an absolute freak; I would hate to think of the Wallabies’ scorelines if he wasn’t in the team. He carries his team purely on his shoulders. He is an 80-minute player who you know exactly what you are going to get out of. He never gives up and is always scrambling on defence.

  1. Kieran Read (New Zealand)

Read would have to be the player of the tournament. There were some great captains on display in this Championship but he is head and shoulders above any player at the moment. He has been clutch in this tournament, being in the right place at the right time – most notably his key hand in the All Blacks’ late escape against the Wallabies in Dunedin.

  1. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

Who would have thought a year ago we were talking about TJ Perenara being the starting No.9 for the All Blacks? Once Smith got his head out of the toilet (pun intended) he got things back on track and has cemented his mantle as the best halfback in the world.

  1. Beaudan Barrett (New Zealand)

Nicolas Sanchez was very close to getting the spot but Barrett again showed his world-class abilities. He is just so exciting to watch and his speed is something to admire. Had one bad goalkicking performance but shored that up in the remaining games.

  1. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)

Easy decision. 54 runs, 32 defenders beaten. Crossed the line five times.

  1. Kurtley Beale (New Zealand)

The Aussies have another world-class player in Kurtley Beale. There are still question marks over his defence but his attacking flair and creativity outweigh those flaws. Australia’s best back.

  1. Ryan Crotty (New Zealand)

Crotty gets this one by default. Not sure anyone really put their hand up in the No.13 jersey fo any nation this year but Crotty gets the nod due to him being the best in that position generally. He is the glue in the All Blacks’ backline. Nothing too flashy but just does the basics right

  1. Israel Folau (Australia)

There wasn’t really a second winger who grabbed this position, so Izzy gets seconded from fullback. Folau has lifted his international standard after a string of great performances in this Championship, and he is almost certain to break the record for most Test tries in a calendar year on the spring tour. We have been waiting for Folau to play consistently well and I think Kurtley Beale playing 12 has taken the pressure off him – he’s no longer Australia’s only attacking weapon.

  1. Damien McKenzie (New Zealand)

McKenzie came into this tournament as probably the fourth-best fullback in New Zealand. But following injuries to Jordie Barrett and Israel Dagg, along with Ben Smith taking a sabbatical, McKenzie has seized his opportunity. Full of highlights in every game, the Chiefs lightning bolt is an entertainment machine. He was the main reason New Zealand won against South Africa last weekend and crucial to the All Blacks scoring so many points in this series. The depth in this position for the All Blacks is phenomenal and it will be interesting to see where they put McKenzie in the squad once everyone returns.

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About the author

Ryan Frisby

Sunshine Coast-based Ryan is proud product of Southland, NZ, and was unsurprisingly brought up on a steady diet of ruby union - which has led him to provide CBS with his forthright views on the 15-a-side code.

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