It has come to that time of year when pundits around the world start releasing their World XV of the Year, so I thought I’d follow the status quo and do the same for my first article for Crashballrugby.com
Before we get stuck into the side I am avid Springbok supporter, it hasn’t been a good year rugby-wise for me, so my selections may be a bit favourable towards the Southern Hemisphere sides but I have tried to be as a neutral and fair as possible.
1. Mako Vunipola
The 26-year-old British and Irish Lion takes this one after a stellar year with the Lions, Saracens and England. He did have some tough competition from Joe Moody (who was injured for majority of the year) and the Beast - who has been extremely consistent for the Springboks.
2. Malcolm Marx
My selection may have been different had Dane Coles been fit the whole year but Marx was outstanding during Super Rugby and for a struggling Springbok side - shown with his three SA Rugby Award nominations. England & Lions hooker Jamie George also had a fantastic year, while Codie Taylor was exceptional in Coles’ absence. Creevy also can’t be ignored despite Argentina’s poor year.
3. Tadhg Furlong
Furlong kicked on from a great 2016 and started all 3 of the British and Irish Lions Test. Furlong is arguably - not if you ask an Irishman - the best tighthead in the world at the moment. Owen Franks is the only player that may have rivaled him in my side had he not been injured so early on in the year.
4. Brodie Rettalick
Probably the most important player in the All Black pack, Rettalick brute strength paired with his overall skills set is not match by any other Test lock. In my opinion, the All Blacks are a different side without him and it showed in November. Maro Itoje also had a great year for England and the Lions as did Joe Launchbury - for England - while Eben Etzebeth was his usual busy self.
5. Sam Whitelock
Whitelock completes an All Black second row and rightfully so. Whitelock captained the Crusaders to yet another Super Rugby title, in his first year as captain, with a line-out master class in the final that would make Victor Matfield blush. His performance in the Super Rugby final wasn’t a one-off performance, as he did the same in the All Blacks 57-0 demolition of the Springboks in Albany. British and Irish Lions locks Iain Henderson, George Kruis and Courtney Lawes all had big years.
6. Peter O’Mahony
A hotly contested position with plenty of options with majority of the top Test sides using more than one player in this position throughout the year. O’Mahony gets my vote after some top performances in 2017 including a man of the match performance against England. The decision could have been made easier had he not fallen to injury after the first Lions Test. O’Mahony was also in fine form for Munster as they reached the Champions Cup semi's and PRO12 final.
7. Sam Cane
A real annoyance to any opposition, Cane never seems to stop tackling and contesting for the ball on the ground. Cane seemed to deliver at least an 8/10 every time he stepped out onto the field. He edges out the likes of Sean O’Brien, Michael Hooper and Siya Kolisi.
8. Sean McMahon
What a loss to Australian rugby! McMahon was outstanding in every single match for the Wallabies with ridiculous tackling, carries and running metres stats. He edges out the ever present Kieran Read, Taulupe Faletau and Billy Vunipola.
9. Conor Murray
Murray has cemented himself as one of the best halfbacks in the world and he showed that in 2017 with some masterful tactical performances for Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. Only one player rivaled Murray for a spot in my side and that’s the All Blacks Aaron Smith.
10. Beauden Barrett
Although he was not able to able to tear the British and Irish Lions apart like his predecessor, Barrett become the first player to receive back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year Awards.
11. Rieko Ioane
The World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year scored 10 tries in his debut Test season and managed 2 additional tries against the Lions with the Maori All Blacks & Blues.
12. Owen Farrell
Guiding Saracens to a Champions Cup Final, England to consecutive 6 Nations titles and starting all 3 Lions Test's. Farrell had yet another fantastic year capped off with a World Rugby Player of the Year nomination. Farrell edges Kurtley Beale and Sonny-Bill Williams.
13. Huw Jones
Jones was almost a certain Lion before an injury prevented him from making the trip to New Zealand. Jones returned from injury in fantastic form in the Currie Cup and made his presences known during the November Tests. Jonathan Davies & Ryan Crotty where close competitors for the no.13 jersey.
14. Elliot Daly
The makeshift winger was one of Eddie Jones’ go to men with England this year and earned a spot on the plane with the Lions. His massive boot and versatility has been a real asset to any side. Nehe Milner-Skudder was in fine form before a shoulder injury curtailed his season.
15. Israel Folau
Folau was set to break the record for the most tries in a calendar year before deciding to take a sabbatical. Folau was a top performer for the Wallabies and linked up with Kurtley Beale. Folau edges Damian McKenzie and Stuart Hogg.
What are your thoughts on Jared's team? Comment below to tell us what changes you'd make!
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