15. Fullback - Ayumu Gorumaru (JAPAN)
The Japanese fullback was key in the historic defeat of South Africa and a stand-out performer in a tired team that faced Scotland. Has an excellent all round game and impressive kicking stats.
Gorumaru beats Samoan fullback Tim Nani-Williams who has been the razor edge of Samoa and Ben Smith who is probably New Zealand’s most consistent player was also considered but loses out to Gorumaru who was imperious in the game that turned out to be Rugby’s biggest upset.
14. Right wing - Anthony Watson (ENGLAND)
The Bath fullback looks like the senior player in an England team that has seemed blunt and inexperienced. Many have said he lacked impact against Wales, but I feel this is more due to the fly-half and centre axis‘s poor distribution than the fault of the wing. Watson brings dancing feet, brave defence and lightning attack.
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Watson beats All Blacks newcomer Nehe Milner-Skudder who has looked world class, and experienced campaigner, J P Pietersen who was the silver bullet in South Africa’s victory over Samoa.
13. Outside centre - Mark Bennett (SCOTLAND)
An excellent blend of guile, speed and strength, Bennett has had some rather soft opponents in an exhausted Japan and inexperienced USA. But the centre has scored and made tries almost at will. Similar to All Black legend, Conrad Smith who mixes deft hands and skill.
He beats legend Smith and USA’s Seamus Kelly by a whisker.
12. Inside centre - Damian de Allende (SOUTH AFRICA)
Came in and fixed the Springbok’s stuttering backline. Was both a bludgeon and a rapier in attack and held the line in defence against a bull-like Samoa.
De Allende beats Welsh stalwart Jamie Roberts and Luke Fitzgerald by the sheer difference he made to the South African team when he played.
11. Left Wing - Juan Imhoff (ARGENTINA)
The Pumas gave the current world champs a closely fought battle in their opening game and Imhoff was one of the key figures in attack. Imhoff also picked up two tries in the rout of Georgia. Always a threat, Imhoff can scythe through a well-organised defence as if it wasn’t there.
Imhoff gets in ahead of Japan’s Akihto Yamada and Ireland’s Dave Kearney. I also seriously considered Lloyd Williams for the left-wing after an incredible cameo out-of-position led to the decisive Wales try against England.
10. Fly-half- Dan Biggar (WALES)
He was once a marmite character in Wales, some loved his boot and confrontational style while others found him predictable and petulant. He has now matured into the complete product, mixing clever kicks and accurate passing with evasive running and diamond-hard defence.
Out-played Owen Farrell with his game management and high-ball security as well as kicking flawlessly. When Halfpenny returns he may find himself in a serious tussle for the kicking tee.
Biggar is pick ahead of South African Handre Pollard and legend Dan Carter.
9. Scrum-half - Edoardo Gori (ITALY)
The top performer for Italy in the RWC. Gori has performed admirably, attacking confidently and managing the game well in a closely fought contest against Canada.
Gori is picked ahead of Sébastien Tillous-Borde who has been strong for France and Wales' Gareth Davies who stepped up admirably after serious injuries.
8. Loose Forward - David Pocock (AUSTRALIA)
Linked well with Michael Hooper and has been the form player for Australia. Pocock has many talents, he competes at the breakdown, runs well and offloads out of the tackle like a league centre. He has made a massive return to international rugby.
Pocock just edges past inspirational Canada Captain Tyler Ardron and rampaging giant Mamuka Gorgodze of Georgia. Amanaki Mafi also deserved consideration after an enormous impact cameo against South Africa, was unlucky to pick up an injury against Scotland.
7. Openside flanker - Yannick Nyanga (FRANCE)
Nyanga has played all the positions in the back row and in the French system of left and right covers, blind and openside during a game. Nyanga picked up a try against Romania and looked athletic and strong. Begins his third coming of international rugby for France with aplomb.
Nyanga pips Wales Captain Sam Warburton for the berth along with South African warrior Schalk Burger and Namibia battler Tinus Du Plessis.
6. Blindside flanker - TJ Ioane (SAMOA)
The Samoan flanker was an enforcer against South Africa playing just on the edge of the law in a masterful display of aggression and forward skill. He carried well, tackled fiercely and bulldozed breakdowns.
Dan Lydiate is unlucky to miss out after a colossal defensive display against England, as is Alastair McFarland who has filled in for the absent Todd Clever with aggressive running and hammering tackles.
5. Lock - Brodie Retallick (NEW ZEALAND)
Retallick has embodied everything All Black since the beginning of the Rugby Championship. Destructive tackling, competitive in the tight and athletic in the loose. Will be key to New Zealand’s World Cup defence effort.
Picked ahead of the inspirational Alun Wyn Jones and Ageless Paul O’Connell.
4. Lock - Iain Henderson (IRELAND)
The young man has ousted incumbent Devan Toner and has looked in excellent form for Ireland. He has a great all-round game and is impeccable in the tight. Is one of the few younger players in the Ireland squad and has really taken his chance on the international stage.
USA’s Samu Manoa has played mostly at eight in the RWC but was consider for this spot due to his excellent form. Also considered was Lood de Jager of South Africa who has looked in great form and may well displace enforcer Eben Etzabeth or record-breaking veteran, Victor Matfield.
3. Tighthead prop - Titi Lamositele (USA)
The USA tight head put a lot of pressure on Lion, Ryan Grant, and in-form Scot, Alistair Dickinson. He also scored a try against Samoa and has played well with ball in hand.
Lamositele comes in just ahead of Fijian Mansa Saulo and veteran Owen Franks. Japan’s beast tamer Hiroshi Yamashita and rookie Tomas Francis were also considered.
2. Hooker - Ray Barkwill (CANADA)
Canada ran Italy close during their second match and Barkwill had a lot to do with that. Good set-piece management and play in the tight.
Stephen Moore and Dane Coles could have both filled this position.
1. Loosehead prop - Campese Ma’afu (FIJI)
The Fijian loosehead has been excellent in the tight and loose. Carrying the ball well and scrummaging against tough opposition in Dan Cole and Sekope Kepu.
Joe Marler and Alistair Dickinson are both also in good form.
Do you disagree with any of these selections? Who would you choose? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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