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Super Rugby Pacific team of the week for round one

By RugbyPass
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs charges forward during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, on February 24, 2023, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The opening round of Super Rugby Pacific is in the books, and what a round it was.

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Defending champions the Crusaders were sensationally overthrown by the Chiefs in front of their home fans, losing 31-10 at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

While the opening match of the new season will forever be remembered is history due to its significance and surprise, that clash was only a taste of what was to come.

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New Zealand sides the Blues and Hurricanes also recorded big wins, while the Brumbies and Force started their campaign with a victory.

As for the game of the round, it’s hard to look pass the titanic clash between Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium. The match simply had everything.

Following every round of Super Rugby Pacific this season, RugbyPass will name its Team of the Week. Here’s the TOTW for Round One.

15. Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs)

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Fresh of the All Blacks XV end of year tour, Stevenson carried his game-breaking form into the opening round clash against the Crusaders.

Donning the No 15 jersey, the Chiefs fullback was at his elusive best as he clocked up 152 running metres on 14 carries. His three clean breaks were a game high, as well as his nine defenders beaten.

14. Mark Telea (Blues)

The Blues right wing put in an all-time great Super Rugby performance in Dunedin with astronomical numbers. He cracked the double century for running metres, scored two tries, had two try assists, had four line breaks and beat 13 defenders.

Telea is the easiest selection for team of the week.

13. Iosefo Masi (Fijian Drua)

The Drua centre beats out Rieko Ioane, Alex Nankivell and Billy Proctor for a place in the Team of the Week.

Masi was influential in the side’s win over Moana Pasifika, he scored two tries off strike plays with good support line running, finished with seven carries for 50m, and beat seven defenders.

12. Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)

The Hurricanes converted No 12 was rock solid in Townsville with 10 tackles from 10 attempts whilst finding three offloads from his 12 carries. He clattered into the Reds line while looking for options, pulling out the cross field kick when available and made some dominate tackles, one of which put Reds blindside Seru Uru in reverse.

The youngest Barrett brother finished with a personal tally of 15 points off the tee in the win over the Reds.

11. Max Jorgensen (Waratahs)

The next big thing out of Australian rugby announced himself to the world in a big way on Friday evening, as he scored two tries against fierce rivals the Brumbies.

Jorgensen sent the home crowd into a frenzy – including famous father Peter Jorgensen – as the teenager beat tackle attempts from Wallabies Allan Alaalatoa and Rob Valetini.

The rising star added to his try-scoring tally 10 minutes into the second-half, and capped was otherwise a scintillating debut in sky blue. Jorgensen ran for 90 metres on the night, and had beaten three defenders and made four line breaks.

While he didn’t quite make the Team of the Week, Brumbies No. 11 Corey Toole deserves an honourable mention for his try-scoring Super Rugby debut.

10. Beauden Barrett (Blues)

Despite not having a pre-season, the Blues No 10 ran the Blues backline with comfort as they racked up eight tries over the Highlanders.

Barrett bagged a walk-in try after picking up a late offload from Mark Telea whilst assisting on another and finished with 25 points.

9. Brad Weber (Chiefs)

The Chiefs No 9 ran the forwards around and over the Crusaders as the visitors stunned with a 31-10 upset. Whilst understudy Cortez Ratima provided the knock-out blow, Weber provided the platform for two Chiefs’ tries.

Weber had a half break before Retallick’s try in the first half, while his deft short ball provided for Sam Cane to crash over in the second.

The Chiefs co-captain was brilliant, and did just enough to pip Brumbies scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan in the Team of the Week race.

Lonergan, who started ahead of centurion Nic White, scored a try and had a try assist – finishing the opening round thriller with 16 points to his name.

1. Abraham Pole (Moana Pasifika)

One of the games of the round, if not the game of the round, was Moana Pasifika versus Fijian Drua in Auckland. While Moana didn’t win the clash, a number of their players stood out.

Valiant in defeat, the hosts went on to lose by two in a thriller. But the Pasifika forward pack deserves some praise.

Prop Abraham Pole was a menace at the set-piece, and also scored two tries to open the season – including his first in just the second minute. Pole also made eight tackles, and only missed one attempt.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs)

Following the opening round of the new season, one of the most contentions positions in the first Team of the Week is hooker.

Tevita Ikanivere and Tom Horton both scored two tries for their teams, while Asafa Aumua was at his rampaging best off the bench for the Hurricanes.

But in review, Chiefs star Samisoni Taukei’aho was the standout performer in the No. 2 shirt this week.

At half-time, Taukei’aho was the best player for the Chiefs against the Crusaders, as he led the way in both attack and defence. The All Blacks carried this form into the second-half, as he finished with 14 carries and 12 tackles.

3. Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)

The Brumbies’ set-piece went toe-to-toe with the Waratahs on Friday evening, as the fierce traded blows in the battle for ascendancy.

But Allan Alaalatoa was still able to do the Brumbies jersey justice throughout out in the middle, having made his mark on the defensive side of the ball.

Alaalatoa, who captained the Wallabies against Italy last year, made the most tackles of any Brumbies player on the night with 11.

4. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)

Most Super Rugby fans would agree that Brodie Retallick was the best player on the park at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium on Friday.

In fact, the Test veteran might’ve been the best player from Round One.

Not only did Retallick cross for a crucial try during the first-half, but showcased his leadership and Rugby IQ throughout the win. The second-rower made 13 tackles against the Crusaders, and ran the ball eight times.

While the Crusaders were beaten by a comprehensive 21-point margin, captain Scott Barrett was still among the best players on the field. Barrett was everywhere he needed to be, and certainly held his own.

5. Tupou Vaa’i (Chiefs)

Rising star Tupou Vaa’i somewhat came of age during the Chiefs’ big win, as he played a pivotal role in the downfall of the Crusaders’ all-star forward pack.

Vaai’i was the go-to player for Taukei’aho at the set-piece, and the second-rower also made an impression the breakdown. Overall, the All Black finished with nine tackles and 35 running metres.

6. Rob Valetini (Brumbies)

After re-signing with Rugby Australia through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup, world-class backrower Rob Valetini repaid the faith shown in him.

With Wallabies coach Eddie Jones in the crowd, Valetini shot out of the gates in red-hot form – with an especially impressive first-half seeing him standout.

Valetini ran the ball 10 times for 21 metres, beat three defenders, and also made nine tackles. The Brumbies, and Wallabies for that matter, just wouldn’t be the same without him.

7. Dalton Papali’i (Blues)

After last year’s end-of-season tour with the All Blacks, New Zealand rugby fans are undoubtedly eager to see what Dalton Papali’i can do for the Blues ahead of this year’s World Cup.

The speculation and discussion surrounding his role in the national team, and whether the flanker should replace captain Sam Cane, has been consistent for quite some time now.

Veteran Cane made a statement on Friday evening, as he scored a try during the Chiefs’ big-win. If it wasn’t already, the All Blacks skipper had the advantage.

But Papali’i is a man on a mission. Leading by example, the Blues flanker would’ve caught the attention of All Blacks selectors with his stunning display on Saturday.

Papali’i made 19 tackles against the Highlanders, and also crossed for a try late in the piece. Simply world-class.

8. Jonah Mau’u (Moana Pasifika)

There were quite a few No. Eights who stood out this week, but Moana Pasifika loosie Jonah Mau’u gets the nod in the first Team of the Week.

Mau’u ran the ball 12 times for 73 metres, beat four defenders, and also made 13 tackles on the defensive side of the ball.

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Comments

1 Comment
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isaac 479 days ago

Sounds about right from 1 -15...I would just at hooker put Aumua...the man was a beast....btw what's with these hookers....they are all so good

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