1 – Marcos Ayerza (Argentina) Nearly left out by Daniel Hourcade, thankfully sanity prevailed and one of the world’s premier looseheads got it done in the scrum. Probably best in the loose by a couple others, but that’s not how props earn their cheddar.
2 – Agustin Creevy (Argentina) Has grown in stature and looks an inspired choice as captain. Still needs to tighten up his throwing, but in the loose he was fantastic.
3 – Ramiro Herrera (Argentina) Might as well pick the whole unit! Stepped in for injured Juan Figallo and was immense in the scrum. Remember, this is only his first year as a professional! What a find for the Pumas.
4 – Brodie Retalliack (New Zealand) One of the best forwards in the competition, has absolutely cemented his spot in the side. Has very rapidly become a world class lock. Honourable mention to emerging powerhouse Tomás Lavanini.
5 – Sam Whitelock (New Zealand) Commanding lineout presence, massive engine around the park. There’s stiff competition out there, but at the moment the All Blacks have the best second row in the business.
6 – Marcell Coetzee (South Africa) Split between open and blindside, he has to be in there somewhere. A tackling machine and ever improving with his carrying and turnover technique. A better player than he was a year ago.
7 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) Michael Hooper was a standout but King Richie got it done. Not as quick as he once was, but every bit as savvy.
8 – Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) Outplayed the IRB player of the year twice and unquestionably the forward of the tournament. Massive tackles, big runs, lineout winner, and all of a sudden winning turnovers on a regular basis. In the conversation for player of the tournament.
9 – Aaron Smith (New Zealand) The quickest halfback in world rugby at the moment. The speed of his delivery alone keeps his team on the front foot.
10 – Nicolás Sánchez (Argentina) Handré Pollard might have been here had he played more, ditto Aaron Cruden, but Sánchez was excellent in each and every game. Small but fearless, he embodies the Argentine spirit.
11 – Julian Savea (New Zealand) Surely the player of the tournament. Peerless as an attacker, adding soft passing and chip kicks to his power game. Bryan Habana was outstanding but has to play second fiddle to the world’s form winger.
12 – Jean de Villiers (South Africa) Made the odd mistake but played with immense passion and led his team superbly. Still a world class player when it counts.
13 – Tevita Kuridrani (Australia) A devastating attacker who just needs to be more consistent in defense. The Wallabies are a completely different side with him in it.
14 – Ben Smith (New Zealand) A late surge by Juan Imhoff put him in contention but the All Black’s all-round game and consistency puts him at the top. Doesn’t seem to care what jersey he wears, as long as he’s there he’ll get the job done.
15 – Israel Folau (Australia) Stands head and shoulders, literally, above the rest for his attacking brilliance. Under-utilized and still hade a massive impact every game.