After the 15th round’s Super Rugby Pacific action, Planet Rugby breaks down the star performers from a thrilling weekend of rugby.
It was a good week for the tournament’s bottom-placed team Moana Pasifika as they lead the way with four players in our XV, while the Brumbies are next best with three representatives.
Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week
15 Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs): Super Rugby Pacific‘s joint top try-scorer did not cross the whitewash at the weekend but he played a big part in his side’s victory over the Western Force in Perth. Stevenson finished with a round-high 173 metres gained from a whopping 17 runs which included two clean breaks, three defenders beaten and as many offloads. Elsewhere, the Brumbies’ Tom Wright also caught the eye with an impressive performance.
14 Andy Muirhead (Brumbies): All Blacks flyer Mark Telea continued with his superb form for the Blues against the Highlanders but Muirhead pips him into our team after coming to the fore with a fine showing in their win over the Rebels in Canberra. Muirhead made 123 metres on attack from 11 runs with one clean break, two defenders beaten and offload and crossed for a well-taken try.
13 Rieko Ioane (Blues): Showed why he was the All Blacks’ first choice outside centre in 2022 with an excellent attacking display in the Blues’ triumph over the Highlanders in Auckland. Ioane made good metres (97) with ball in hand from 10 runs which included three clean breaks, a round-high nine defenders beaten and two offloads. In other action, Moana Pasifika’s Levi Aumua also played well.
12 Ollie Sapsford (Brumbies): The 27-year-old New Zealander came into the Brumbies‘ run-on side and gave a good account of himself in their triumph against the Rebels. Sapsford was prominent as a ball carrier as he finished with 76 metres gained after five runs which included two clean breaks, four defenders beaten as well as a try. He also had a good defensive game as he made 14 tackles.
11 Timoci Tavatavanawai (Moana Pasifika): The Brumbies’ Corey Toole and Kini Naholo of the Hurricanes impressed for their respective teams but Tavatavanawai makes our team after a strong showing in Moana’s maiden win of the season, against the Waratahs in Sydney. Tavatavanawai proved difficult to stop as he finished with 84 attacking metres gained after completing 11 carries with three clean breaks, a round-high 14 defenders beaten and he also crossed the whitewash twice.
10 Christian Lealiifano (Moana Pasifika): The former Wallabies playmaker showed his class as he played a pivotal role in helping Moana to that memorable win over the Waratahs. The 35-year-old shone on attack as he gained 106 metres on attack from 13 carries with a clean break, two defenders beaten, one offload and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. He also slotted four conversions to finish with a 13-point haul.
9 Cam Roigard (Hurricanes): The 22-year-old has been one of the best scrum-halves in this year’s competition and was at the forefront of his side’s win over the Crusaders in Wellington. Roigard proved a real threat with ball in hand as he made 62 metres from 12 runs which included a couple of clean breaks, eight defenders beaten, an offload and a try for his efforts. Frank Lomani of the Fijian Drua also impressed.
8 Rob Valetini (Brumbies): One of the competition’s best performers so far this season, the Wallabies back-row was moved to number eight from his usual position on the blindside flank but still produced the goods in his side’s win over the Rebels. Valetini excelled as a ball carrier as he gained 64 metres on attack after making nine runs with a clean break and five defenders beaten. Also shone on defence as he made 16 hits.
7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes): Another one who showed off his versatility as he was shifted from number eight to the openside flank shortly before kick off against the Crusaders and still delivered the goods with a fine all-round performance. As usual, the Hurricanes skipper led from the front and also gained 51 attacking metres from 12 runs with a clean break, three defenders beaten and two offloads. He was also prominent on defence with 11 tackles made.
6 Miracle Fai’ilagi (Moana Pasifika): Although Moana struggled for most of the season, Fai’ilagi played consistently well and shone again in their victory over the Waratahs. The young tearaway was in the thick of the action as he gained 37 metres with ball in hand from seven runs with one defender beaten and he scored a brace of tries. He comes in ahead of the Fijian Drua’s Joseva Tamani.
5 Samuel Slade (Moana Pasifika): Moana’s forwards were in fine form against the Waratahs and Slade was one of their best performers as he excelled in the execution of his core duties. Slade did what was expected of him in the lineouts, was a willing ball carrier and did well on defence as he completed seven tackles. In other action, the Chiefs’ Tupou Vaa’i also impressed.
4 Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues): The experienced All Blacks second-row’s season came to an end after sustaining a broken arm in their hard-fought win over the Highlanders but he will be happy with his efforts as he was in the thick of the action throughout. Tuipulotu was at the forefront of the Blues’ forward charge and, especially with ball in hand and he scored the game’s only try. He was also excellent in the lineouts and edges out the Waratahs’ Ned Hanigan.
3 Mesake Doge (Fijian Drua): This was a difficult decision as there were fine performances from All Blacks duo Nepo Laulala and Tyrel Lomax, who had good games for the Blues and Hurricanes respectively, but we’ve opted for Doge after he caught the eye with an excellent showing in the Drua’s victory over the Reds in Suva. The 30-year-old was solid in the scrums and scored a well-taken try.
2 Tevita Ikanivere (Fijian Drua): There were good performances from Tyrone Thompson and Connal McInerney for the Chiefs and Brumbies respectively but Ikanivere gets the nod after a brilliant effort in the Drua’s triumph against the Reds. The 23-year-old took the fight to his opponents and finished with 49 metres gained from 11 carries which included two clean breaks and three defenders beaten.
1 Ollie Norris (Chiefs): The 23-year-old came to the fore with an outstanding all-round display which helped the Chiefs to a deserved away victory against the Force. Norris shone with ball in hand and eventually gained 34 metres from four carries with one clean break and two defenders beaten, while also catching the eye with powerful scrummaging. He was also at the forefront of the Chiefs’ defensive effort with 18 hits.
READ MORE: Seven standout players from the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season
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