• Mark Keohane picks his July internationals World XV

    Mark Keohane picks his July internationals World XV

    Only three Springboks make my World XV from the July internationals, writes Mark Keohane. What is your best XV this past month?

    A disclaimer, I have not considered any French players from their two-Test series win against Japan and none from the Argentina v Scotland three-Test series impressed me enough to crack the World XV.

    I focused primarily on the Big Three Test series’s in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

    I’ve also considered the comparative strengths of the sides, in terms of opposition, which has influenced my decision-making.

    Ireland were outstanding in the first 20 minutes of the opening Test defeat in Auckland and transferred those 20 minutes into 160 minutes in the final two Tests, which they won.

    But as good as the Irish played, this is the worst coached and selected All Blacks match-day squads I have reported on since the game turned professional in 1996. They are imposters the Mighty McCaw World Champion Class of 2011-2015.

    I felt Wales had the toughest assignment of the northern hemisphere teams and Ireland had the easiest, given who they actually played and not being seduced by the history of who they were playing. When I say easiest, not to be misinterpreted as easy.

    Historically, there is no tougher assignment that the All Blacks in New Zealand but in the context of the current fragility of the men in black and the sub-standard pedigree of their head coach Ian Foster, this was a series out of kilter with the quality of what the All Blacks have traditionally produced at home.

    Australia and England were very evenly matched and it showed with one score basically separating the two teams in all three Tests.

    Wales surprised me and were better than I thought they would be and the Boks overall disappointed me and were not as convincing as I thought they would be, although they showed enough in the third and final Test to give me comfort they will improve at home against New Zealand in August.

    Ireland, with seven, provide the most from one country.

    So, here’s my July World XV and there will be a few honourable mentions as well. 

    15. Damian Willemse (SA)

    14. Will Jordan (NZL)

    13. Robbie Henshaw (Ire)

    12. Owen Farrell (Eng)

    11. James Louw (Ire)

    10. Jonny Sexton (Ire)

    9. James Gibson-Park (Ire)

    8. Ardi Savea (NZL)

    7. Tommy Reffell (Wales)

    6. Peter O’Mahony (Ire)

    5. Lood de Jager (SA)

    4. Tadhg Berne (Ire)

    3. Tadhg Furlong (Ire)

    2. Malcolm Marx (SA)

    1. Ellis Genge (Eng)

    *Henshaw can play 12 and 13 and De Jager is comfortable at 4 or 5.

    England’s Freddie Steward gets an honourable mention at fullback. Other honourable mentions, every player in the Irish match-day 23 for those final two Tests, especially flanker Josh van der Vlier, Eben Etzebeth (SA, lock) and Siya Kolisi (SA, flank) for their third Test performances, Steven Kitshoff (SA, prop), Frans Malherbe (SA, prop), Damian de Allende (SA, centre), Louis Rees-Zemmit (Wales, wing), Dan Biggar (Wales, flyhalf), Courtney Lawes (Eng, flank), Jack van Poortvliet (Eng, scrum half), Jack Nowell (Eng, wing), Samu Kerevi (Aus, centre), Michael Hooper (Aus, flank), Tom Wright (Aus, wing), Beauden Barrett (NZL, flyhalf) and Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland, wing).

    New Zealand Herald Sport’s World XV

    15. Freddie Steward (ENG)

    14. Tom Wright (AUS)

    13. Samu Kerevi (AUS)

    12. Robbie Henshaw (IRE)

    11. Marika Koroibete (AUS)

    10. Johnny Sexton © (IRE)

    9. Nic White (AUS)

    8. Ardie Savea (NZL)

    7. Josh van der Flier (IRE)

    6. Peter O’Mahony (IRE)

    5. Eben Etzebeth (RSA)

    4. Tadhg Beirne (IRE)

    3. Tadhg Furlong (IRE)

    2. Dan Sheehan (IRE)

    1. Ellis Genge (ENG)

    Simon Thomas – Wales on Line World XV

    15. Freddie Steward (Eng)

    14. Damian Penaud (Fra)

    13. Lukhanyo Am (RSA)

    12. Robbie Henshaw (IRE)

    11. Emiliano Boffelli (ARG)

    10. Johnny Sexton (IRE)

    9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Ire)

    8. Ardi Savea (NZL)

    7. Josh van der Flier (IRE)

    6. Courtney Lawes (ENG)

    5. Eben Etzebeth (RSA)

    4. Tadhg Beirne (IRE)

    3. Tadhg Furlong (IRE)

    2. Malcolm Marx (SA)

    1. Ellis Genge (ENG)

    Article written by

    Keo has written about South African and international rugby professionally for the last 25 years