1 – Keita Inagaki (Japan) Jack McGrath had a great game in the loose for Ireland, but Inagaki was outstanding in every facet for Japan against the Maori. To think it was only his second international appearance and first ever start. Huge find for Eddie Jones.
2 – Ross Ford (Scotland) His best game in ages in the Scottish shirt. Had a little trouble in the scrum, but his throws were perfect and his contribution in the loose was excellent.
3 – Kensuke Hatakeyama (Japan) The other half of a superb Japanese scrum effort. Bounced around in the loose, defended well and had a couple very solid carries.
4 – Dave Attwood (England) Stepped in to some big shoes and responded with his best ever international performance. Showed surprising athleticism to go with his undoubted grunt.
5 – Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) Very difficult to leave out Paul O’Connell but the bearded dragon gets the nod for his try-scoring effort in Cardiff. Leads the pack with everything he does, it’s crazy that there isn’t a C beside his name.
6 – Dan Lydiate (Wales) There were probably some more well rounded contenders, but the chop tackle was back in full force against Australia. Put in countless hits on the Wallaby big men.
7 – Rhys Ruddock (Ireland) Could easily make a case for Richie McCaw here, but how many times do game-day fill-ins produce a performance like that? Outstanding commitment and a try to boot for the most improved Irish player of the year.
8 – Kieran Read (New Zealand) Seems to be feeling much better now that he’s out of the clutches of Duane Vermeulen. Showed some lovely touches around the park and got involved in just about everything, as he tends to do.
9 – Greig Laidlaw (Scotland) One of his best international performances. In the middle of everything that went right at Murrayfield.
10 – Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) Just another day from a world class player. Showed none of the nerves that dogged him against New Zealand last year. Top effort.
11 – Teddy Thomas (France) Oh là là! Three tries on debut. Say no more.
12 – Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand) Up against tougher opposition this week, but every bit as influential. Ma’a Nonu has got a serious fight on his hands for the no12 jersey.
13 – Tevita Kuridrani (Australia) Just seems unstoppable with ball in hand at the moment. Makes the odd mistake in defense, but with so much upside, who cares?
14 – Ben Smith (New Zealand) If your name is Smith and you play for New Zealand, chances are you’re pretty damn good. This guy certainly is. He just never seems to make a mistake.
15 – Israel Folau (Australia) A few options on the table, but Izzy gets the nod for stealing a win from Wales. Two tries and caused plenty of headaches. The scary part is he can still do better.