Team of the autumn internationals

Will always keep opponents interested but no one on the planet has better footwork. Israel Folau runs him close although his old testament attitudes hardly help his case to be included in a world team.

Early days but has already made a serious impression at Twickenham. Along with Fiji’s Josua Tuisova, he could go on to cause serious damage at the 2019 World Cup.

Ireland’s No 13 is only 23 years old but plays with the calm assurance of a Test veteran. He would stroll into New Zealand’s starting midfield, which pretty much says it all.

He was wearing 13 against France but shirt numbers are irrelevant in his case. His unstoppable hard line to score in Paris showcased his huge power and talent, as already demonstrated for the Barbarians at Twickenham this year.

Scorer of the crucial try in Ireland’s historic first home win over the All Blacks. Pace, strength and an eye for the line have now earned the Ulster wing 12 tries in 14 Tests.

Now officially world player of the year and deservedly so. Ireland and Leinster have won everything that matters this year and, as usual, Sexton was at the heart of this month’s stirring All Blacks heist.

Stick him in any side in the world and his top-of-the-range passing would stand out. If he suffered slightly behind New Zealand’s pack in Europe this autumn, he was far from alone.

Cian Healy and Ben Moon are both worthy of honourable mentions but the flame-haired Springboks prop just edges it. South Africa’s pack could yet be a proper handful in Japan next year.

Dane Coles and Nathan Harris were in eye-catching form in Rome but the defensively-excellent Taylor rarely has a bad game. “He’s a very intelligent hooker and I’d take him over Malcolm Marx any day of the week,” suggested his teammate Ryan Crotty last month.

The world’s best tighthead still appears to be improving. A rock for Ireland against New Zealand and influential in open play as well. Should have been nominated alongside Sexton on the World Rugby shortlist.

England are on the up and the resurgence of Itoje is among the reasons why. If he continues to respect the game and stays fit, he will become one of the all-time greats.

There were some excellent lock performances this autumn from Brodie Retallick, James Ryan, Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard but none of them offload like the remarkable Fijian.

A colossus against the All Blacks and the epitome of what Ireland have become: tough, unyielding, passionate and relentless. Any team would want him on their side.

Wales have won nine Tests in a row and are developing a highly promising clutch of young forwards. Jenkins was superb against South Africa only to suffer a nasty late knee injury. It will not be the last we hear of him.

Simply has to feature somewhere in the back-row for his monumental effort against England at Twickenham. Scored another two tries against Russia at the weekend; the most inspirational of autumn performers.