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TheScore.ie's 2013 rugby team of the year

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve selected our best XV from the past year of action.

15. Israel Folau

An incredible debut year in rugby union. The 24-year-old got off to a flying start with the Waratahs and improved consistently in every game. A phenomenal athlete and Australia’s most dangerous attacking weapon.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

14. Ben Smith

The Highlanders man was a sensation in Super Rugby, and carried that form into the All Blacks set-up. Nine tries in 11 international games sealed his spot.

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©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

13. Wesley Fofana

We felt there wasn’t one outstanding candidate at outside centre, with Jonathan Davies and Conrad Smith both in strong form too. In the end, we’ve shifted the Frenchman out one position. Runs incredible lines.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

12. Jean de Villiers

The Springboks captain was consistent in his excellence this year, both in Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship. Carried directly and led with pure passion.

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Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

11. George North

Still has a way to develop yet, but he is a frightening physical specimen. Was the biggest attacking threat for the Lions and Wales, and has been in strong form this season too.

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©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

10. Aaron Cruden

The Chiefs man bagged another Super Rugby title and helped the All Blacks to their winning season. Draws in defenders better than any 10 in the world and kicks superbly.

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©INPHO/James Crombie

9. Aaron Smith

Poor for the Highlanders in club competition, Smith was transformed when wearing black. Communicates effectively, passes better than anyone and organizes his forwards smartly.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

1. Alex Corbisiero

The English prop really didn’t play a lot of rugby this year, but his contributions to the Lions scrum in the decisive third test beat off the competition of Cian Healy.

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©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

2. Stephen Moore

In contrast to so many alongside him in the Australian pack, Moore was consistently superb this year. His handling is a joy, his work rate inspirational and his breakdown work dogged.

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©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

3. Juan Figallo

The best scrummaging tight-head prop in the world since the new directives were introduced, Figallo helped Argentina’s scrum to pose serious problems in the Rugby Championship.

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Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Press Association Images

4. Eben Etzebeth

Still just 22, but already one of the premier ‘enforcers’ in world rugby. Possesses an incredibly explosive line-out leap, technically and physically strong in the tight and mentally tough.

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Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images

5. Brodie Retallick

Also just 22, but another man who plays beyond his years. Added excellent handling skills to his huge work rate this year, allowing him to become one of the best linking forwards in the world.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

6. Liam Messam

Helped the Chiefs to a second Super Rugby title in two years, before underlining his improvement as an international for the All Blacks. Skillful and a superb athlete.

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©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

7. Richie McCaw

Try as we might, we couldn’t leave the All Blacks captain out. One of the great rugby captains, his calm words and mental edge helped his team over the line against Ireland. A true legend.

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©INPHO/James Crombie

8. Kieran Read

The best rugby player of the year in 2013. His complete game offered everything; power, aggression, offloading ability, understanding of space and tries aplenty. Sublime.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Do you agree with our selections or not? Let us know your own XV of the year.

Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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