The Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs enjoyed huge victories on the weekend and feature heavily in the round nine Super Rugby Team of the Week.
1. James Slipper
Starting to return to the Slipper of old after missing the opening rounds of Super Rugby with a shoulder injury. While his side continues to struggle to win matches, Slipper is leading a more confident team that is showing improvement.
2. James Hanson
Will be eager to secure a place in the Wallabies squad for the June Test series and didn’t hurt his chances at all on Friday night. Having a huge impact in a young Rebels side in his first season in Melbourne.
3. Ben Alexander
Some may have forgotten about the 72-Test Wallaby but Alexander was in fine form against the Crusaders, hitting every contest with purpose and kept busy around the park.
4. Dave Dennis
The Waratahs club captain notched up his 100th NSW cap and it clearly motivated his teammates. On an individual note, it was one of Dennis’ best matches this season, racking up 34 run metres and seven tackles.
5. Lopeti Timani
Could be a dark horse for the Wallabies squad if he continues to play like he did against the Cheetahs. Crossed over for a try and put on some huge hits in defence.
6. Scott Fardy
Had a rare misstep, coughing up a turnover that led to a Crusaders try but was still among the best on a disappointing day for the Brumbies.
7. Liam Gill
Never seems to put a foot wrong! Made a game-high 15 tackles to go with his try, although there was no drop goal from the star flanker this week.
8. Adam Thomson
Hard to believe that Thomson is 34 years old. He just manages to maintain a ridiculous level of consistency, as he continues to build a formidable backrow partnership with Sean McMahon and Jordy Reid.
9. Nick Phipps
Continues to be one of the Waratahs’ best this season. The energetic Phipps was boisterous and creative against the Force as he fed quick ball to his backs.
10. Bernard Foley
The Waratahs backline has been off the boil in 2016, but it was easily their best showing of the season against the Force. Foley found gaps to set up his side’s attack and was impressive with the boot, kicking 19 points.
11. Eto Nabuli
Nabuli is a threat with every touch. The Fijian made 98 run metres and a try, his first in Super Rugby. He might be raw, but Michael Cheika obviously sees something in him, as Nabuli was one of the Queensland reps at the latest Wallabies camp.
12. Tamati Ellison
Easily the best story of the weekend. Just an hour before kick-off, Ellison’s wife went into labour with their fourth child. The good news continued for the inside centre, who finished with six tackles, one turnover, 58 run metres and the bonus-point try. What a night!
13. Reece Hodge
Blossoming in every position he plays. Hodge stepped up to fill the void in the centres and played the best match of his career. Had 98 run metres to go with his two tries. Not a bad effort from the rookie.
14. Reece Robinson
Robinson struggled to find the try line in the early part of the season but since returning from the bye has crossed in consective weeks. Building confidence with every match.
15. Andrew Kellaway
Kellaway bounced back from a subpar match against the Brumbies last week to have a huge influence on the Waratahs win over the Force. Highlight of the night was his break that set up Israel Folau with a record-breaking 30th Super Rugby try for NSW.