Sunday 22 September 2019

World XV of the Autumn Internationals: Five Irishmen make the side, but no All Blacks are selected

Mick Cleary

With the Autumn Internationals done and dusted and next year's Rugby World Cup now at the forefront of coach's minds, Mick Cleary selects a world XV that has impressed him most in the recent series.

15. Israel Folau (Australia)

For all the Wallabies woes, the individual class of players such as Folau still stood out, resulting in his two tries at Twickenham.

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Australia's Israel Folau

14. Joe Cokanasiga (England)

Too soon? It is never too soon to reward talent and Cokanasiga has certainly shown his thrilling potential over the past fortnight.

13. Semi Radradra (Fiji)

The former rugby league star was a constant source of trouble for France with a blend of power, pace and the awareness of possibility.

12. Owen Farrell (England)

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England’s fly-half has to be in the team for his drive, intelligence and fierceness, attributes that he’s shown as an inside centre often enough.

11. Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)

Stockdale is irrepressible and not in the least bit daunted, as seen in the bold manner of his match-defining try against the All Blacks.

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Ireland's Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Sportsfile

10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

World Rugby Player of the Year. What greater endorsement does a man need for selection? Testimony to his smartness and nerve in the thick of it.

9. Kieran Marmion (Ireland)

There was a strong case for Ben Youngs but, in the absence of the injured Conor Murray, there was a lot of pressure on him and he came up trumps.

1. Steven Kitshoff (South Africa)

The Springbok pack has regained much of its fearsome status and Kitshoff is one contributing to that, a constant high achiever.

2. Guilhem Guirado (France)

In a battling cause, France’s hooker has been a splendid example of a man whose standards never fall below the excellent.

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

Kyle Sinckler ran Furlong close, but not close enough. That illustrates just how good the Irishman is, an extraordinary operator.

4. James Ryan (Ireland)

At 22, he is wise beyond his years. Physically durable as well as mentally tough, as he has shown this year for province as well as country.

5. Maro Itoje (England)

No Brodie Retallick in the second row? Yet who would speak against Itoje, a player at the heart of the upturn in England’s forward play.

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England's Maro Itoje in action REUTERS/Toby Melville

6. Michael Leitch (Japan)

Eddie Jones warned his England side that Leitch would walk into any team in the world as the 30-year-old proved at Twickenham.

7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

The No 7 shirt was the preserve of Sam Warburton, but it is a measure of the prowess of Tipuric, that Wales’ back-row has not missed a beat.

Wales' Justin Tipuric in action REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

8. Mark Wilson (England)

Pick on form, that is the only credible criteria for a coach so, while Kieran Read’s class is undisputed, in goes no-nonsense Wilson for consistency.

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