Rugby World Cup
Goromaru, Van der Merwe and Burger star in Tier Two team of the tournament
ESPN Staff
October 13, 2015
Rugby World Shield would support 'minnows'

As the dust settles on the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool stages, we pick our Tier Two team of the tournament. Despite Japan's heroics none of those outside of the big 10 made the quarterfinals, but they certainly left their mark on proceedings.

Selected by ESPN's Tristan Barclay, Rob Bartlett and Martyn Thomas this XV manages to contain one player from each of the Tier Two nations competing in England and Wales, while retaining a competitive look. There are some players who will be left disappointed, though, with Romania captain Mihai Macovei and Canada fly-half Nathan Hirayama particularly unlucky to miss out.

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

15. Ayumu Goromaru (Japan)

The fullback with the distinctive kicking style has been arguably the good news story of the tournament so far. Little known outside of his homeland before the tournament, his metronomic boot helped guide Japan to three Pool B wins and won him a legion of fans.

14. Nemani Nadolo (Fiji)

Got the tournament off to a rip-roaring start, scoring a try and then assuming kicking duties as England were given a scare at Twickenham. A conversion and two penalties followed against Australia, while a try and six conversions in the win over Uruguay took his personal points tally to 33.

13. Ciaran Hearn (Canada)

Was one of his country's standout performers in their games against Italy, France and Romania. Solid in defence and a willing runner from outside centre, Hearn's link up play with those around him -- particularly the explosive DTH van der Merwe -- was key as the Azzurri were run agonisingly close.

12. Florin Vlaicu (Romania)

Canada will be sick of the sight of him, with the centre's nerveless kicking ensuring another dramatic victory for the Romanians over the Canucks. His ability from the tee also gave Romania a half-time lead against Italy in their final Pool D game, but the 85-cap 29-year-old is more than just a trusty boot.

© Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

11. DTH van der Merwe (Canada)

The powerful winger became only the second player in Rugby World Cup history to score a try in every pool match, the first being Wales's Shane Williams in 2007. His effort against Italy, that included not only a scintillating break but also expert support play from the Scarlets man, was one of the best of the tournament so far.

10. Theuns Kotze (Namibia)

Got his side off the mark with three penalties against New Zealand before his personal tally of 16 points against Georgia not only earned Namibia their first ever World Cup point but also saw him become his country's top scorer in Test rugby with 340 points. Added another four against Argentina too.

9. Fumiaki Tanaka (Japan)

Japan's player of the World Cup would be a hotly contested award but Tanaka would be right in the mix. The sniping scrum-half may be short of stature but his speed of thought around the breakdown kept his side on the front foot for much of their campaign.

1. Soane Tonga'uiha (Tonga)

Scored one of the tries of the tournament so far as he crashed over following a flowing team move against Argentina in Leicester. Tonga lost the arm wrestle up front against Georgia as Tonga'uiha sat out their first game but he returned to shore things up in their next three matches.

2. Carlos Arboleya (Uruguay)

The scorer of Uruguay's first World Cup try in 12 years, when he touched down against Fiji in Milton Keynes. Otherwise a constant presence around the pitch and ensured as best he could that his side did not get pushed around at scrum time.

Samoa prop Census Johnston
Samoa prop Census Johnston© Steve Bardens/World Rugby via Getty Images

3. Census Johnston (Samoa)

One of few Samoan players to emerge with any credit from the debacle against Japan, Johnston was immense as a much-improved side ran Scotland close in Newcastle. If they had played the rest of the tournament with that same intensity, they may still be involved.

4. Leone Nakarawa (Fiji)

The giant second row was a constant presence around the park for Fiji, playing all 320 minutes of a campaign that saw his country pitched against three Tier One nations. His effort was rewarded with a richly deserved try in the win over Uruguay.

5. Samu Manoa (USA)

Although he started all three of his World Cup games at No.8 Manoa often ended them in the second row, so important is his dynamism to the Eagles. In the end this would be a fruitless tournament for the USA but Manoa did more than anyone to change that.

© Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

6. Jacques Burger (Namibia)

There was little chance the hugely popular flanker was not going to make this XV. Played the 2015 tournament as he has his whole career by putting his body on the line, and put his head in places few would dare. Cruel, yet fitting, that concussion ended his campaign and international career early.

7. Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)

Again played most of his rugby over the last three weeks but also impressed when switched to openside flanker against the All Blacks, and such is his influence on Georgia that he had to be included. Scored tries in his side's wins over Tonga and Namibia.

8. Amanaki Mafi (Japan)

The burly No.8 scored two tries despite only starting one match due to injury, and came off the bench to great effect against South Africa. Worth noting that Japan had the edge over Scotland until he departed the match on a stretcher -- what might have been.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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