The 2017 November Internationals were historic for the Americas. For the first time six countries toured with matches taking place in Africa, Asia and Europe. The level of competition was, by and large, successful as all teams won at least one match. The pick of the players from the final weekend make our line-up for the Team of the Week.
1 – Djustice Sears-Duru (Canada) Despite having been a replacement against Fiji, Sears-Duru makes the team. He had a fine impact, including smashing his way over for a try. He contributed positively to lifting a team which was defeated prior to his arrival.
2 – Joe Taufete’e (USA) A try scoring double from Big Joe had the Eagles off to a fine start against Georgia. His scores came from driving mauls, an area of play in which the Lelos are among the best in the business. Taufete’e is a pivotal player with an eye to Rugby World Cup 2019.
3 – Juan Echeverría (Uruguay) An impressive performance from the Uruguayan tighthead helped the South Americans get the better of Namibia in the tight exchanges. Echeverría’s performance was solid right from the start as underlined by his 9th minute try.
4 – Nikola Bursic (Chile) Chile’s win over Germany is still being celebrated by Los Cóndores. Many players had fine performances with the pack laying the foundation for the backs to give them a big lead. Bursic impressed in the second-row, greatly helping Chile win the battles throughout the match.
5 – Nick Civetta (USA) Taking on Georgia in the engine room and repelling their raids was Nick Civetta. The New Yorker was a stand-out all year long. The USA’s unbeaten streak against Canada has plenty to do with the unearthing of such players.
6 – Pablo Matera (Argentina) The player of the year for Argentina without a shadow of doubt. Matera’s defense, line-out work and ball-carrying place him among the best flankers in the world. He was a menace in Dublin, regularly providing the Irish with problems.
7 – Anton Petrowitsch (Chile) The ever-present flanker put in a strong showing against Germany. A solid work-rate combined with great awareness and technique make him an automatic choice for Chile. A player who is hard to coach against, as evidenced by his display in Germany.
8 – Samu Manoa (USA) A combination of injuries and club commitments restricted Samu Manoa’s appearances for the Eagles in 2017. Yet his match against Georgia to end the year underlined how good of a player he is. The Californian-enforcer landed trade-mark bruising tackles which some players are likely yet to recover from.
9 – Santiago Arata (Uruguay) Agustín Ormaechea started and scored for Uruguay against Namibia. His replacement was Santiago Arata who came on to score a double. His quick thinking, decision making and execution is world class. He us surely the best amateur scrum-half in the world. Special mention to Gonzalo Bertranou who was, again, better than Martín Landajo for Argentina.
10 – AJ MacGinty (USA) The Eagles playmaker marshaled play well in Tbilisi. He created opportunities for teammates and made line breaks. Wet conditions complicated his goal-kicking, the one area of concern. He kicked at 2/5 for the match.
11 – Franco Velarde (Chile) A superb try from a set-piece move got Chile underway against Germany. Velarde split the defense, running over to score under the posts. The try may well be Chile’s best of the year.
12 – Bryce Campbell (USA) A late score from the center gave the USA a shot at victory. Unfortunately for the Eagles MacGinty’s attempted conversion sailed wide. Campbell is a success story of 2017 and continues to get better. Moisés Duque had a solid second half for a hammered Tupis side.
13 – DTH van der Merwe (Canada) A shining star in a humbled team, van der Merwe was Canada’s best back against Fiji. Following on from his strong performance against Spain he did everything that was asked of him very well.
14 – Federico Favaro (Uruguay) Many players put up their hands for a place on the plane to Canada in January. Favaro is indeed one of them. He again had a great afternoon, scoring 14 points from the boot. While some countries cannot identify reliable goal-kickers Uruguay have fly halves, scrum-halves, centers, wingers and fullbacks who are all deadly accurate.
15 – Joaquín Tuculet (Argentina) A trademark performance of being reliable under the high-ball and constantly coming up from fullback. He scored a try in what was his 50th cap. No player has started more for Argentina during the Daniel Hourcade regime.