As Eric Rush once said, “this is just one man’s opinion”. Please add your picks and your favourites in the feedback box below.
15 Damian MacKenzie (Chiefs)
D-Mac was like a fish being put back in the water with a run at 15 against the Hurricanes. Had a wonderful tussle in the backfield duel with Chase Tia tia and enjoyed the freedom. Hard for Cooper to slot him back at 10 after a performance like that and may affect the All Blacks selection policy post-Super rugby. 18 points with a try, 2 conversions, and three penalties.
14 Tyrone Green (Lions)
Made his Super debut starting at 15 but his move to the right wing at 50 mins coincided with the Lions resurgence to win after being down 33-5 just after halftime. Elusive and made the most of the Rebels not having too much tape on him.
13 Samu Kerevi (Reds)
Was a real powerhouse, leading from the front with 14 runs for 78 metres in their last gasp victory over the Sunwolves. Also seemed to handle the referee well as the Sunwolves, for the second week in a row, were hammered in the penalty count.
12 Anton Liernert-Brown (Chiefs)
Big matchup with Ngani Laumape and he edged the battle. Has power but good choices in defence, a load of subtlety and passing power. Billy Meakes (Rebels) impressed in Johannesburg until he was yellow carded and the Melbourne tide ebbed away.
11 Ataata Moeakiola (Chiefs)
The Tongan-Japanese star in the making is coming into his own in Super rugby. A breath-taking mix of physical size, power and speed he’ll be one to watch in the Rugby World Cup if Japan pick him in the squad.
10 Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
Barrett dripped quality with his smooth as silk performance in the draw vs the Chiefs. This weekend he looked calm and had that Carter-esque quality of seeming like he had much more time on his hands than anyone else on the paddock. Great to see his goal kicking looking solid as well.
9 Jamie Booth (Sunwolves)
Had Will Genia (Rebels) penciled in at halftime and even though individually he was all class he couldn’t repeat his match-saving heroics from last week. And even though the Sunwolves tanked at the death Booth could not be faulted; he had just been subbed when his replacement’s poor clearing kick added a nail in the Tokyo team’s coffin.
8 Lachlan McCaffrey (Brumbies)
The Canberra team knew they had to win the battle of the collisions after the Waratahs improved performance against the Reds in round 4 and McCaffrey stepped up in the absence of David Pocock. The number 8 always has a lot to say, with more sledging than the Baggy Green’s slips cordon but he backed it up with a gritty, abrasive game. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) got his fantastic form back on the tracks after being a little off against the Highlanders.
7 Liam Wright (Reds)
When you are competing for a Wallabies job against the likes of Pocock and Hooper you will have to be patient. Time is on the 21-year-old’s side and he is putting in some physical shifts for the Reds. At 192cm he is a lanky lad for an open side but he doesn’t lack power at tackle and maul time. Luke Jacobson (Chiefs) made a statement with some thundering defence after coming off the timber.
6 Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
It’s hard to believe the Stormers have turned around a Bulls’ battering in round one with three straight, ugly victories. du Toit is a constant, with gigantic defence and determined running. He’d logged up 15 tackles with 20 minutes left in the game. It will be interesting to see how effective the Stormers style is on the road as they embark on a four-game tour of NZ and Aussie.
5 Vaea Fifita (Hurricanes)
Bold move by Plumtree and co after been given a bath in the tight 5 last week to bring a blindside flanker into lock but it seemed to work with the All Black prospect acquitting himself well in the tight and featuring in some loose sorties as well.
4 JD Schickerling (Stormers)
The plaudits are going to du Toit and Etzebeth but the 23-year-old is a great foil for the other two giants. Good source of line out ball and doesn’t shirk on the clean outs.
3 Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
The tighthead job seems to be reserved for whoever is playing the Jaguares. Boy, their scrum has been bullied this year. If Argentina wants to make the knockout stage at the Rugby World Cup they have to fix this issue asap.
2 Folau Fainga (Brumbies)
Two tries and robbed of a hat trick with the ref going early to the penalty try he was all business and is in a real race for the Wallaby hooking job. Anaru Rangi (Rebels) catches my eye. Apart from the locks, he reminds me of a young Sean Fitzpatrick, fearless and dynamic. Also, Brandon Paenga-Amosa got a brace as the Reds left it late to pip the Sunwolves. Ok, I didn’t forget Malcolm Marx (Lions) he was mighty too!
1 Scott Sio/James Slipper (Brumbies)
These two are becoming the new Moody/Crockett 1-2 punch at loosehead prop. It’s an easy push to see them doing the same job for the Wallabies this year. Steven Kitshoff (Stormers) put in a promising 50 minutes coming back from hamstring troubles.
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