The Springboks bagged their maiden Rugby Championship title and are in the process of a remarkable turnaround from the performances they have produced over the last few years. The Wallabies shocked the world by crushing the All Blacks and relegating the World Champions to an unfamiliar 3rd sport overall on the table, just ahead of Argentina.
A shortened competition made this year one of the toughest year's to pick a team of the tournament while a number of players pushed incredibly hard for a place but narrowly missed out.
1. Tendai Mtawarira - South Africa
South African stocks at loosehead are overflowing but the Beast has put his hand up after many were calling for him to be dropped. Between him and Kitshoff, they make a formidable pair in the Springbok matchday 23 and strike fear into any front row they face off against. Mtawarira has proved that no matter whether he starts or benches he makes a huge difference.
The 'Beast' was superb in the opening game against Australia, forced his way back into the starting line up with a massive shift off the bench against the All Blacks and kept that momentum against Argentina. Scott Sio deserves a mention for his performance in Gold and Green and was the only other real contender behind the two Springboks.
2. Bongi Mbonambi - South Africa
The battle for the Springbok #2 jumper is an interesting one but Mbonambi, who often plays behind the deadly Malcolm Marx, is putting pressure on the Lions hooker for the starting berth. Mbonambi has shown his accuracy at lineout time and high work rate has moved him closer to the starting place. Whatever Erasmus decides, South Africa has some good options.
Elsewhere, Dane Coles was strong against Argentina and off the bench against the Springboks but is far from his usual self.
3. Trevor Nyakane - South Africa
Nyakane completes and full Springbok front row, and rightfully so. The Springbok pack played a major role in guiding the side to the Rugby Championship title and although the Erasmus may see Frans Malherbe as his starting tighthead, Nyakane has certainly thrown down a marker.
He hardly took a step backwards in the scrums throughout the competition, hit rucks like a flanker and was simply brilliant throughout. Sekope Kepu was busy for the Wallabies as the only other real contender for the jersey, while Allan Alaalatoa showed what the Wallabies were missing against the All Blacks.
4. Rory Arnold - Australia
An unsung hero for the Wallabies and he is becoming one of the first names on the squad list for Cheika's men. Solid in the set-piece and a 90% tackler he pops up with hard carries but also able to link with players in the wide channels.
Arnold took his Super Rugby form into the Wallabies gold and was a menace at the lineout in all of the clashes. He pips Springbok Eben Etzebeth to a place in the side with the aggressive Springbok stringing three strong games together.
5. Guido Petti - Argentina
The only Los Pumas to make the side, Petti has been an incredible player for his country and a constant thorn in the sides he plays against.
Petti was the lineout general of the competition coming up with the most steal in the competition and weighed in heavily on defence and attack.
He pips the likes of Sam Whitelock to the side with the All Black second row consistently performing for the side.
6. Pieter-Steph du Toit - South Africa
Pablo Matera was solid throughout, Lukan Solokaia-Loto had his moments and the All Blacks regularly changed their blindside flankers.
However, there was really only one man in the running for the blindside flanker role in our team of the competition, Pieter-Steph du Toit. The lock come flanker is tipped by many as the best Blindside flanker in the world and his work rate and consistency this Rugby Championship displayed exactly why so many think so.
PSdT played every game for the South Africans and topped the tackle list with 36 tackles. An instrumental player in the Springbok team, a fierce competitor and one that will set the World Cup on fire.
7. Michael Hooper - Australia
There is hardly a blade of grass Michael Hooper does not touch when he pulls on the Wallabies jersey and this Rugby Championship was no different. Operating in a back row without his teammate David Pocock, Hooper stepped up and carried the workload his back row partner would have provided.
He led the tackle count right up to the final round of the competition, where he was pipped by Pieter-Steph du Toit. He carried strongly, got over the ball superbly and was simply excellent against the All Blacks this past weekend.
Elsewhere, Matt Todd impressed in his sole appearance for the All Blacks while Kwagga Smith gave Rassie Erasmus something to think about with two strong games against the All Blacks and Pumas.
8. Duane Vermeulen - South Africa
Incredibly consistent, Duane Vermuelen put in two solid performances for the Springboks both of which were his first two games as captain of his country.
He tackled well, carried well and led well. Vermeulen is still yet to hit top form for the Springboks this year but hardly put a foot wrong all tournament.
Kieran Read came close to edging the Bok captain after he silenced many doubters in the All Blacks' drubbing at the hands of the Wallabies while Isi Naisarani had flashes of brilliance.
Finally, Francois Louw made a massive impact off the bench in the last two Springbok test and one in the starting XV against Australia.
9. Nic White - Australia
Nic White made a huge impact on the Wallabies team on his return to the test arena. White seems to have overtaken Will Genia in the pecking - or at least has given Michael Cheika one massive selection headache. His kicking, passing and tactical play was the forefront of the Wallabies gameplan that took the All Blacks apart and look right at home in the test arena.
TJ Perenara was brilliant against the Springbok while Herschel Jantjies enjoyed one of the greatest starts to a test career but in the end neither were quite as brilliant as White.
10. Christian Leali'ifano - Australia
Tough call between Leali'ifano and Handre Pollard for this position but the Wallaby has completed a remarkable comeback to return to international rugby and not only that but put together incredible performances and help guide Australia back into some form and a dangerous side as we saw in the dismantling of the flailing All Blacks
11. Marika Koroibete - Australia
A big hard uncompromising runner, Koroibete has evolved his game a bit since first hitting the international scene and coupled with his high work rate pops up often on the field in half gaps and powers over the advantage line. His ability to link with other players makes him a deadly attacking option for Australia.
12. Samu Kerevi - Australia
Kerevi has been in fine form for the Wallabies and his hard uncompromising approach to the game often sees his opposite number sprawling on the floor after getting bounced. The tournament leader in Carries, Metres Gained and Offloads he sits in 2nd place behind Beauden Barrett on Defenders Beaten. Honourable mention for Damian de Allende who has proved many doubters wrong with his performances.
Samu Kerevi showing Beauden Barrett to his seat 👋 pic.twitter.com/4R1MtEsjyA— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) August 10, 2019
13. Lukhanyo Am
A fierce competitor and hard tackler, Am stepped things up a level in the Rugby Championship making the Springbok 13 jumper his own with some fine tactical and defensive decisions shown.
Jack Goodhue looked good when was on the pitch for the All Blacks as too did Anton Liernert-Brown while James O'Connor was outstanding against New Zealand.
14. Cheslin Kolbe - South Africa
Rassie Erasmus has a problem when selecting his right-wing as both Kolbe and Nkosi have yet to put a foot wrong but the former has been a standout player for the Springboks with his high work rate, ankle-breaking avoidance techniques and a potential emergency scrum-half option, not to mention his aggressive tackling mindset.
Kolbe almost single handily kept Rieko Ioane quiet in Wellington while he also grabbed a try against Argentina and played a major role in Jantjies' draw sealing try.
Reece Hodge also should some excellent form for the Wallabies and did push the pocket rocket Bok for a place in the side.
15. Beauden Barrett - New Zealand
Extremely close between Barrett and Kurtley Beale for the final place in our Team of the Competition, however, the All Black gets a nod after a solid showing at first-five against Argentina and two strong attack games at fullback.
Barrett topped the defenders beaten and was pipped only by Samu Kerevi in carries made and running metres in the competition.