22nd July 06:05 PM
Nakarawa part of Rugby World magazine’s best team of 2018
By Vijay Narayan
Friday 07/12/2018
Fijian Olympic 7s gold medalist and the man considered one of the best locks in the world, Leone Nakarawa

Fijian Olympic 7s gold medalist and the man considered one of the best locks in the world, Leone Nakarawa is part of the Rugby World magazine's best team of 2018.

Nakarawa was part of the Fiji 7s and 15s teams this year.

He is the only Fijian to make the world's best team of 2018.

Racing 92's Nakarawa was named the 2018 European player of the year after continuing to excel in France's Top 14 league and he played a pivotal role in Fiji's shock 21‑14 triumph against the French in Paris last month.

Stuff.co reports that Beauden Barrett has been picked at fullback among five All Blacks.

Joining the All Blacks playmaker are Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane on the right and left wings respectively, with skipper Kieran Read at No 8 and Brodie Retallick at lock.

New Zealanders make up a third of the team despite the All Blacks finishing the year with some unconvincing performances in their northern tour, including their 16‑9 defeat to Ireland and the fortunate 16‑15 win against England.

The respected Rugby World magazine comprised the team of the year from a panel of experts from 12 different countries and Barrett's selection at fullback comes despite him not starting a test there in 2018, although he did finish some in that position.

Coming into 2018 after winning World Rugby's player of the year award two years running, Barrett lost the top gong to Ireland first‑five Johnny Sexton and it wasn't a stellar year for the Hurricanes No 10, who has faced criticism for his ability to lead a side around the park and his kicking out of the hand and off the tee has also been questioned.

But Barrett still showed flashes of his brilliance and his highlight was a staggering four‑try performance as the All Blacks thumped the Wallabies 40‑12 in August to retain the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park.

Meanwhile, there were four Irishman ‑ Sexton, halfback Conor Murray, loose forward Peter O'Mahony and prop Tadgh Furlong ‑ after the boys in green enjoyed a fabulous 2018.

Ireland won the Six Nations Grand Slam before beating the All Blacks on home soil for the first time last month, closing the gap on the long‑time world no 1 New Zealand side ahead of next year's World Cup in Japan.

Also included in the team were Welsh centre Jonathan Davies and South African hooker Malcolm Marx, while Australian loose forward David Pocock was chosen at openside flanker despite the Wallabies suffering their worst season for 60 years.

Two Englishmen also made the cut; co‑captain Owen Farrell at second‑five eighth and prop Mako Vunipola despite England's poor year which included five successive test defeats and their worst finish (fifth) in the Six Nations.

However, England's season finished on a positive note after beating South Africa (12‑11) and Australia (37‑18) last month, while Eddie Jones' side pushed to the All Blacks to the brink in an unlucky one‑point loss at Twickenham.
 

AT A GLANCE
Rugby World's 2018 team of the year: Beauden Barrett (All Blacks), Ben Smith (All Blacks), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Rieko Ioane (All Blacks), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Kieran Read (All Blacks), David Pocock (Australia), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Leone Nakarawa (Fiji), Brodie Retallick (All Blacks), Tadgh Furlong (Ireland), Malcolm Marx (South Africa), Mako Vunipola (England).

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