Team of the week: Ireland's stars dominate after making history
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 07/11/16 12:39pm
Ireland made history in Chicago and as a result, Joe Schmidt's men dominate our team of the week alongside a few noteworthy Wallabies, a standout Barbarian and a rampaging No 8.
Nine Irishmen are included after their incredible victory over New Zealand as well as four Australians after they extended their winning streak over Wales to 12 games.
Taqele Naiyaravoro's outstanding display for the Baa Baas at Wembley secures him a place in our side and there is also spot for a French-based English forward.
15. Israel Folau (Australia)
It is official: there are few players in the world that make professional rugby look as effortless as Folau.
At the Principality Stadium, the Australian started as he meant to go on with an outrageous offload to Tevita Kuridrani within the opening minutes and he continued from there.
Folau finished the afternoon with 156 metres and 17 carries made as well as setting up Reece Hodge's try.
Two notable mentions must also be made for Ireland's Rob Kearney and Melani Nanai playing for the Barbarians.
Kearney's 70th cap was certainly one to remember as he showed his experience throughout with assurance under the high ball and flair going forward, while Nanai epitomised the Barbarians' day with pace and invention and he beautifully set up Taqele Naiyaravoro's try just before the break.
14. Andrew Trimble (Ireland)
Trimble's place in our team of the week is as much for his work when Ireland were on the back foot as for his purpose going forward.
Julian Savea was kept largely quiet throughout and it was the timing and intensity of the Irish winger's defence that directly caused this.
13. Tevita Kuridrani (Australia)
Kuridrani said before the match against Wales he had a point to prove and it is fair to say he did just that.
Throughout the 80 minutes, he worked with purpose and, like a number of Australian backs, caused Wales big issues.
The outside centre took his own try brilliantly and combined soft hands with powerful runs forwards.
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Henshaw's start to the season has been slower than he would have liked due to injury, but at Soldier Field he stepped it up a notch.
He missed an early hit on Waisake Naholo as the Kiwi broke for George Moala's try but atoned for it later.
Henshaw was up there with his side's top tacklers, making 12, and ultimately was the man to seal victory after combining with Jamie Heaslip for a 76th-minute try.
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (Barbarians)
In a Barbarians side that was filled with spark and fizz, Naiyaravoro was immense as he showcased his almost super human combination of pace and power.
Naiyaravoro was the Barbarians' top carrier with 20, their top metre-maker with 166, and finished his 40th-minute try in style.
He busted through tackles all day long and put in a performance that the late, great Jonah Lomu would have been content to have called his own.
10. Bernard Foley (Australia)
Foley was as sharp as a pin in Cardiff as he guided his side around the park with distinction. Although his goal-kicking did not quite hit the heights, the Wallabies fly-half was a constant threat with ball in hand and also kept Wales guessing with accurate crossfield kicks.
The 27-year-old carved open the Welsh defence on numerous occasions as the Australian decoy runners caused uncertainty. His sharp inside pass put Reece Hodge through in the lead-up to their second try and deservedly scored their fourth on 55 minutes.
Johnny Sexton handled the pressure New Zealand put on him with composure and it was unfortunate he was not able to finish what he started, though Joey Carbery did himself proud off the bench, but Foley gets the No 10 shirt.
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
The scrum-half's sniping try on 33 minutes showed his outstanding vision and awareness.
It was a textbook dummy that left Aaron Cruden wondering what was going on and Murray finished the score beautifully.
Throughout, Murray delivered first-class service to Sexton and Joey Carbery, easing the pressure on the latter's debut, and directed his pack with distinction.
The No 9 had it all in his locker, including goal-kicking and his 58th-minute penalty was vital to stem the tide of 14 unanswered New Zealand points in the second half.
1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)
At a press conference earlier in the week, Jack McGrath was mistaken for Rory Best when questioned about the forthcoming match.
After his performance on Saturday, we are sure that such a mistake will not happen again!
McGrath, like the whole of Ireland's pack, performed his role with distinction and wasn't daunted by Owen Franks opposite him.
The prop made himself indispensable around the field and when it came to the set piece delivered exactly what was required.
2. Rory Best (Ireland)
Great team performances are always led by an inspirational captain and that is exactly what Rory Best was in Chicago.
Best led his side in terms of his workrate around the park and at the set piece was unwavering.
New Zealand's lineout was a mess and in contrast Ireland's was rock solid with Best finding his men with ease.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
The prop was part of an all-star Irish front row that delivered the platform that Ireland needed to work and drive off from.
Equally, Furlong was at the heart of Ireland's choke tackles, which provided vital ball, and because he still has plenty more growth ahead the future looks extremely bright for him and Ireland.
4. Donnacha Ryan (Ireland)
For all of New Zealand's nerves and shakes in that area, Ireland were solid and effective at the lineout.
For the 64 minutes that he was on the field, the 32-year-old showed us his full box of tricks.
Ryan's athleticism and power were there for all to see and alongside Toner he exposed the Kiwis' relative lack of experience at the lineout.
5. Devin Toner (Ireland)
Toner performed with distinction at the lineout and outside of that he made himself an almighty nuisance during New Zealand's mauls.
The 30-year-old is continuing to grow match on match and his experience is vital.
The lock showed his basketball skills earlier in the week and joked on social media that the Chicago Bulls could give him a call but we think Joe Schmidt will want to keep him right now!
6. CJ Stander (Ireland)
Stander always carries like a man on a mission and never takes a backwards step for his side and those characteristics were evident on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, he spoke about needing "to play for 90 minutes" and the back rower did just that.
Stander led the tackle count with 14 and was ever-present clearing out and helping to deliver the multiple choke tackles.
His physicality is up there with the very best and his power was showcased in the form of his 17th-minute try.
7. Michael Hooper (Australia)
The flanker was recently awarded the John Eales Medal and became only the fourth player to claim Australia's highest rugby honour twice. In Cardiff, he reminded us exactly why he was handed the accolade.
Hooper is one of Australia's most dependable characters and at the Principality Stadium worked tirelessly at the breakdown.
The 25-year-old does all of that hard work as well as being a significant threat in the loose.
Alongside David Pocock, he is someone that every single one of Australia's opponents must contain this autumn because otherwise life will become challenging!
8. Carl Fearns (Lyon)
Fearns' engine is unbelievable and it takes a lot to grab the No 8 jersey after the weekend of action that we saw, however the Englishman was exceptional.
Lyon's pack took charge from the opening minutes and never let Toulon into the match at the Matmut Stadium.
Fearns left the razzle-dazzle to his colleagues and instead went about his work with purpose and efficiency.
The 27-year-old carried all day long, gaining 87 metres from 19 carries, and punched countless holes in Toulon's defence. He kept Lyon on the front foot throughout and as he weighs up his options for next season a performance like Sunday's will have upped his value again.
A notable mention of course has to go to Ireland's Jamie Heaslip. In the same manner as Fearns, the No 8 showed an incredible engine and his 76th-minute pick off the base and reverse pass to Henshaw was absolutely first class.