Jump to main content
Bryan Habana’s Team of the Series

Bryan Habana’s Team of the Series

The dust has just about settled on a thrilling Autumn Nations Series.

We’ve seen four weekends of non-stop drama over the past month as northern and southern hemisphere sides battled it out across 20 matches on the biggest stage.

Doris crowned Player of the Series

But now the curtain has come down on the 2021 international season, the time has come to reflect on the players who rose to the occasion during the Autumn campaign.

South African legend Bryan Habana has selected his Team of the Series, with five nations represented in the World Cup winner’s XV. Find out who made the cut below.

Team of the Series

15 Freddie Steward (England)

There is only one word to describe Freddie Steward’s Autumn Nations Series: sensational. The 20-year-old full-back started all three Tests for England and scored tries against international heavyweights Australia and South Africa to earn Player of the Match in both wins.

14 Damian Penaud (France)

France could not have wished for a better November, registering wins against Argentina, Georgia and the mighty New Zealand, and Damian Penaud was central to their success. The 25-year-old winger scored three tries and caused defenders nightmares with his pace and quick feet.

13 Waisea Nayacalevu (Fiji)

The sole Fijian in the Team of the Series, Waisea Nayacalevu only played one game during the Autumn Nations Series but that was enough to secure his place. The skipper scored a brace in the 38-23 defeat to Wales, including a wonder try that showed Fiji at their very best.

12 Damian de Allende (South Africa)

The world champions ultimately enjoyed a mixed November, beating Wales and Scotland before losing narrowly to England, but Damian de Allende reasserted his position as one of the best centres in world rugby. A breakdown fiend who contributes in defence and attack, De Allende’s partnership with Lukhanyo Am has deservedly developed a formidable reputation.

11 Makazole Mapimpi (South Africa)

Arguably the most clinical finisher on the globe, it’s no surprise to see Makazole Mapimpi in Habana’s squad. The 31-year-old scored a brace in the 30-15 win over Scotland before also crossing the whitewash against England to take his remarkable tally to 20 tries in 25 Tests, reaching the milestone quicker than any other Springboks before him (beating Habana’s 20 in 27 Tests!).

10 Romain Ntamack (France)

The abiding memory of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series may well have been provided by Romain Ntamack. His audacious break from his own in-goal area against the All Blacks turned the tide and helped secure a famous victory for Les Bleus, having also scored a try earlier in the game. He was simply mesmerising from start to finish, having also dabbled at inside centre for France’s first two games.

The Ntamack counter-attack heard around the world

Romain Ntamack

9 Antoine Dupont (France)

Considered by many to be the best rugby player in the world – and a heavy favourite to win Men’s 15s Player of the Year at the upcoming World Rugby Awards at least – Antoine Dupont’s stature only grew in the Autumn Nations Series. He took on the captaincy in place of the injured Charles Ollivon and led France to a perfect record, including an historic victory over the All Blacks.

1 Ox Nché (South Africa)

Part of the most fearsome forward pack in world rugby, Ox Nche has really made the loosehead role his own during the Autumn Nations Series. Following in the footsteps of Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira was never going to be an easy task but the 26-year-old has been a huge presence in the scrum in all three games while he also made a few massive tackles.

2 Ronan Kelleher (Ireland)

At the heart of an Ireland front row that earned plenty of plaudits this Autumn, Ronan Kelleher started every match and scored a try in the historic win over New Zealand. His physicality, his movement and his ability to steamroller defenders was key to the success of Andy Farrell’s side over the month, while his lineout throwing was also reliable.

Kelleher moments

3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

What else is there to say about Tadhg Furlong? The Ireland tighthead remains one of the best in the business, producing top drawer performances for The British & Irish Lions and Ireland this year. He started all three Autumn fixtures for his country and was nothing short of exceptional in each one, saving his very best display for the win over the All Blacks.

4 Cameron Woki (France)

While the French backline has unsurprisingly attracted most of the headlines, the pack has provided the platform for that success – and Cameron Woki, in particular, has risen to the occasion time and time again. He has looked at home in Les Bleus’ engine room despite his rangy frame, strengthening France’s set-piece and proving a handful in the loose.

5 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

Towering Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has been one of the standout performers for the world champions this year. He stated 12 of their 13 Tests, helped South Africa beat the Lions and led the charge during the Autumn Nations Series. The men in green and gold are substantially a better team with the 30-year-old in their ranks and it’s no surprise to see him in Habana’s team.

Eben Etzebeth

6 Courtney Lawes (England)

Named captain in the absence of Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes has led from the front for England during their flawless Autumn campaign. His last-ditch, try-saving tackle against Tonga set the tone for Eddie Jones’ men while he was a constant nuisance at the breakdown. His reputation for being one of the hardest tacklers in the game was also hammered home once again.

7 Siya Kolisi (South Africa)

There are not many players in rugby more inspirational than Siya Kolisi both on and off the field. The Springbok captain was a force to be reckoned with throughout the Autumn Nations Series, seemingly getting better with every game. His work rate was second to none, relentlessly eating up the ground to make tackle after tackle, while he also caused chaos at the breakdown.

8 Caelan Doris (Ireland)

No-one made more carries than Caelan Doris’ 36 across the Autumn Nations Series while he also hit a joint-high 99 rucks as his relentless engine drove Ireland forward. His performance against New Zealand was the pick of the bunch, popping up everywhere to complete 12 tackles and carry for 84 metres as he won Player of the Match in the 29-20 victory. Doris went on to be named Player of the Series after topping the public vote.

Previous Story Top 5 France tries from the Autumn Nations Series
Next Story Top 5 Ireland tries from the Autumn Nations Series

More News

Bryan Habana’s Team of the Series

Top 5 Scotland tries from the Autumn Nations Series

5th Dec 2021
Will Jordan All Blacks

Top 5 All Blacks tries from the Autumn Nations Series

4th Dec 2021
Marcus Smith runs in a try

Top 5 England tries from the Autumn Nations Series

2nd Dec 2021