Our Team Of The Autumn Series
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The Autumn series is officially over with England sealing an unbeaten season on Saturday with a win over the Wallabies.
Ireland showed the most improvement, England were clinical and bar one hiccup in Chicago, it was business as usual for the All Blacks. We also saw some positive signs from Scotland who look in good shape for the Six Nations, but the problems with Wales continue.
Some of the world’s very best players have been on show the last month, with some new names making their break on the international stage, but which players stood out the most? Here’s our team of the series.
Team of the November Tests
15 Ben Smith (New Zealand): It was business as usual for the talented fullback. Always looks dangerous going forward with ball in hand and kept the momentum going for the All Blacks. His reading of the game is second to none and continues to be on of the best in the world.
14 Dan Haylett-Petty (Australia): A super talent, played a pivotal role in Australia’s unbeaten run up until their last two games against Ireland and England. Unlucky to have been yellow-carded the weekend, was superb throughout the month.
13 Jonathan Joseph (England): Proved his worth with impressive displays in their triumphs over Fiji, Argentina and Australia after returning from injury. A key player in Jones’ side and a shoe-in for the Lions squad as things stand.
12 Owen Farrell (England): The Saracens star continues to excel at the inside centre role for England. His partnership with Ford seems to be getting better and better. Edges out Robbie Henshaw as a result of his injury.
11 Simon Zebo (Ireland): The Munster star burst back onto the international scene in the absence of a banned Keith Earls with a five star performance against the All Blacks in Chicago. His defence has hugely improved and is excellent under the high ball. Always offers something in attack, a hugely exciting players.
10 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand): The All Blacks playmaker had a fantastic 2016 season which saw him crowned World Rugby’s Player of the Year. He has made the All Blacks number 10 jersey his own and capped off the season with a strong November tour. Barrett made 269 metres during the month of November, scored two tries, beat seven defenders, made 15 tackles and scored 34 points.
9 Conor Murray (Ireland): Untouchable against the All Blacks in Chicago, Murray took his game to another level during the series. Arguably the best nine in world rugby right now.
8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland): Heaslip seems to getting better with age every year. Phenomenal work rate, kept Kieran Read quiet in both games against the All Blacks. The Irish back-row has now put himself back in serious contention for a Lions test spot.
7 David Pocock (Australia): The tackling machine, made an incredible 63 tackles in five Tests, averaging almost 13 a game. Tipuric and Josh van der Flier were also immense but we’re gonna give it to the man who is now set to take a year out on sabbatical.
6 CJ Stander (Ireland): Once again proved he is unstoppable, the South African born star continues to impress on the international stage. A standout player in almost every game he plays, his work rate is on a different level. Loves to carry ball and always has a high tackle count. A special talent.
5 Jonny Gray (Scotland): Scotland’s best player alongside Jones and Hogg. Massive work-rate and proved his worth in the big games. The second-row department will be hugely competitive comes Lions time, but Gray is in with a shout.
4 Devin Toner (Ireland): A giant in the lineout (literally), Toner was immense throughout. His work-rate off the ball goes unnoticed and remains Ireland’s number one option at lock.
3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland): What a few weeks its been for this young tighthead. Literally burst onto the scene against the All Blacks and hasn’t looked back since. The complete tighthead who can also carry ball like a barreling back-row. Will only get bette.
2 Dane Coles (New Zealand): Just about edges out Rory Best who also had a brilliant series. Coles continues to set the standard for the modern day hooker and was once agains immense for his side.
1 Mako Vunipola (England): Jack McGrath still leads the way for the Lions test spot but Mako is not far behind. Superb throughout the series, Vunipola is flourishing under the Jones regime.
What do you think of this selection? Where would you make changes?