Jacob Whitehead picks a composite team from the southern hemisphere tournament
Tri-Nations Team of the Tournament 2020
The 2020 Tri-Nations really was an exciting tournament. Despite missing South Africa, the consecutive losses suffered by New Zealand to Australia and Argentina really opened things up, albeit that the All Blacks still lifted the title as the other two sides battled to two draws.
So, with Australia experimenting, New Zealand in transition and Argentina rising, which 15 players should make a ‘team of the tournament’? Here’s my selection…
Tri-Nations Team of the Tournament 2020
15. Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)
Under a lot of pressure in the back three from Caleb Clarke, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie and brother Beauden, Jordie Barrett responded impressively, starting all four Tri-Nations games this autumn. He was more often picked on the wing but as possibly the best aerial player in the world right now he will fit well at full-back.
14. Caleb Clarke (New Zealand)
His real explosion onto the international scene strictly came before the Tri-Nations began. Although there have been less highlight-reel moments since, his form has still been impressive. Tested extensively under the high ball, which he has dealt with admirably.
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)
Quietly does so much well. Started every game of the tournament for New Zealand, always making the right decision in the wide channels and deceptively strong. Oh, and he’s been interviewed this month by Rugby World.
12. Santiago Chocobares (Argentina)
The 21-year-old only played two matches, but what a Test debut he had. The man with the best name in world rugby led the defensive effort as the Pumas got a result against New Zealand, plus he was durable enough to be a regular crash-ball option. Rumoured to be a new signing for the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021.
11. Bautista Delguy (Argentina)
Better at getting out of spaces than Harry Houdini, he finished off one of the tries of the tournament against Australia, and did so with the flourish of a finger-point to the sky. His style reminds me a lot of Jonny May.
10. Nicolás Sánchez (Argentina)
The old-timer still has it. He scored Argentina’s first 43 points of the tournament and showed an impressive turn of pace to score the crucial try against the All Blacks.
9. Nic White (Australia)
Aaron Smith shone in New Zealand’s early demolition of Australia, but the most consistent scrum-half in the competition was White. His crowning glory came on the final weekend, when he should have been Man of the Match against Argentina.
1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Argentina)
The veteran Argentina prop particularly shined in the scrum against Australia, faced with the sizable presence of Taniela Tupou. Karl Tu’inukuafe also performed well early in the tournament.
2. Julián Montoya (Argentina)
During lockdown Montoya trained for 100 days alone in his apartment to be ready for the Tri-Nations. It paid off against New Zealand, where the hooker demonstrated why he is one of the best front-row jacklers in world rugby. Excellent throughout.
3. Taniela Tupou (Australia)
The ‘Tongan Thor’ was the difference in Australia’s 24-22 win over New Zealand, achieving scrum dominance before bashing over for the winning try. Surely his side’s starting tighthead going forward and, at 24, still young in prop years.
4. Guido Petti (Argentina)
It feels difficult to include him in this team after a series of racist and classist tweets, from Petti and two of his team-mates, came to light before Argentina’s last game. Focusing purely on the rugby, he was outstanding in Argentina’s first games against New Zealand and Australia.
5. Matt Philip (Australia)
Has played every Test for the Wallabies in 2020, which is impressive considering how many changes Dave Rennie has made for each game. Does so much of the dirty work and seems to break the gain-line whenever he’s called upon to carry.
6. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
New Zealand’s outstanding player over the past 18 months. Capable of playing across the back row, his graft at the ruck is beginning to become just as impressive as his work going forwards.
7. Marcos Kremer (Argentina)
An absolute unit of a man at 6ft 5in, 18st and with forearms the size of tree trunks, never mind legs. Tackles anything that moves with a manic intensity, and I’d be surprised if there are many players in the tournament who don’t have a bruise on them courtesy of Kremer.
8. Harry Wilson (Australia)
Just 21, and a player who only made his domestic debut for the Reds in January. It’s incredibly impressive that a player so young looks so physically ready for Test rugby, and the Australian back row could get even better when Wilson is joined by fellow Reds team-mate and U20 graduate Fraser McReight.
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