Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week: Australian sides dominate selection after Super Round
As the dust settles on a thrilling second round in Super Rugby Pacific, Planet Rugby breaks down the star performers from the weekend of rugby.
It was a good weekend for the Australians following the Brumbies’ 25-20 victory over the Blues and the men from Canberra are rewarded with three nominations following their strong performance up front.
The Reds also impressed, dominating their Aussie counterparts the Western Force, and they lead the way with four representatives.
Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week
15 Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs): The New Zealanders continued their fine start to the campaign, reaching over a half-century of points against Moana Pasifika with Stevenson critical to their success. The full-back was a constant threat behind the scrum and ended up touching down three times against the Pacific Islanders. Jordan Petaia also stood out as the Reds ran rampant against the Western Force, but the Chiefs man deserves his place in the XV.
14 Mark Nawaqanitawase (Waratahs): After a competitive opening period, the New South Wales outfit pulled away in the second half with the Wallaby wing playing a big part, constantly making yards with ball in hand. Another Australian international, Suliasi Vunivalu, equally impressed at the weekend but Nawaqanitawase’s ability to make yards post-contact was unrivalled.
13 Josh Flook (Reds): He may only be 21 but the centre has been around for a few years now. Flook has always been a highly regarded talent but perhaps this is the year where he fulfils his potential. There were certainly good signs at the weekend as the youngster scored two tries, ran for 79 metres in total and caused the Force all sorts of problems with ball in hand, while he was also solid in defence.
12 David Havili (Crusaders): While Jordie Barrett currently holds the 12 jersey for the All Blacks, it is going to be some battle ahead of the Rugby World Cup if the opening weeks of the season are anything to go by. Barrett was once again impressive, starring in the Hurricanes’ victory over the Rebels, but Havili was particularly exceptional against the Highlanders. His partnership with Richie Mo’unga flourished and, with the 28-year-old the first choice fly-half for New Zealand, that could play in the Crusaders centre’s favour. Also don’t forget about Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who was one of the Blues’ better players in their defeat to the Brumbies.
11 Salesi Rayasi (Hurricanes): An excellent game from the ‘Canes wing, who the Rebels found especially difficult to stop. He was very effective with ball in hand, running for 90 metres and finishing with a try to his name. Rayasi is another exceptionally talented New Zealand back three player and is doing everything he can to put himself in the All Black frame. Meanwhile, Filipo Daugunu was another Reds player to enjoy the space afforded to him by a struggling Force outfit.
10 Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders): A masterclass from the New Zealand playmaker as he tore the Highlanders to shreds. His battle with Damian McKenzie will be fascinating over the course of the season, with the Chiefs pivot shining since returning from Japan, but Mo’unga just edged it this week. The Crusaders man was exceptional in pretty much every facet, from decision-making to his kicking off the tee, where he converted all seven tries and also added a penalty.
9 Brad Weber (Chiefs): The 32-year-old is a reliable performer for the Waikato-based outfit, producing a constant supply of quick ball for his dangerous outside backs to feed off and dictating play from the base superbly. Weber also remains a threat around the fringes, despite now being the wrong side of 30, and Moana struggled to deal with him.
Australian dominated forward pack
8 Harry Wilson (Reds): The tireless number eight was fantastic for the Reds in their dismantling of the Western Force, scoring a try, making 54 metres with ball in hand breaking three tackles and two clean breaks. Throw in an outstanding 17 tackles at 100% completion, and it is clearly a blockbuster performance. Elsewhere, Ardie Savea shone for the Hurricanes despite his antics, with Rebels star Richard Hardwick and Chiefs number eight Luke Jacobson deserving of mention.
7 Fraser McReight (Reds): Another Queenslander makes the cut in the loose trio as McReight underlined his quality with a brilliant effort. The flank had one try assist to add a clean break whilst on defence, the Wallaby made 10 tackles and one turnover. Rebels star Brad Wilkin had a solid display of his own in a losing cause.
6 Rob Valetini (Brumbies): Australia’s Super Rugby Pacific Player of the Year for 2022 shone again this week, making 12 carries with ball in hand and 14 tackles without one missed in a tight affair against last season’s finalists the Blues. In the same game, Blues flank Tom Robinson also performed well, typified by a glorious solo try.
5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders): Chiefs star Tupou Vaa’i was unlucky to miss out, but Whitelock makes the cut for his line-out prowess as he made four steals and secured six off his own throw to dominate the Highlanders in the set-piece totally. The influence of disarming the Dunedin men’s line-out was key in a big Crusaders win.
4 Nick Frost (Brumbies): The second-row was a committed defender for the Canberra side, making an impressive 15 tackles to go with an impressive line-out performance with seven takes of his own throw and a steal. Jed Holloway was at his hard-working best for the Waratahs in their clash.
3 Matt Faessler (Reds): The tighthead carried the ball hard for his side making 20 metres in six carries as well as getting in on the try-scoring action. Faessler was no slouch on defence either, with seven tackles to his name in a solid outing.
2 Lachlan Lonergan (Brumbies): The hooker played a brilliant game for the Brumbies with a try next to his name in his five carries, whilst on defence, Lonergan made 15 tackles and won three turnovers. Add in a whopping 18 successful line-out throws, and there is a complete performer. All Blacks duo Codie Taylor and Samisoni Taukei’aho had strong hit outs for the Crusaders and the Chiefs, respectively.
1 Tom Lambert (Waratahs): The loosehead had a solid outing against the Fijian Drua and made 10 carries with ball in hand. On defence, the prop made six tackles whilst also putting in a strong shift at scrum-time, powering his side in the set-piece. Hurricanes star Ollie Norris and Crusader Joe Moody also had good outings in round two.
READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific: Former All Blacks insist it’s time to move on from Ardie Savea saga
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