Super Rugby: Team of the Year

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The season is over for Australian Super Rugby sides, but there were plenty of stellar individual performances across the Aussie conference.

Rugby.com.au journalist Beth Newman, Matt Lewis and Chris Ford name their Super Rugby Australian Conference Team of the Year.

1. Scott Sio

A slow start to the season after an injury-riddled off season following the World Cup, led to Sio being benched for Allan Alaalatoa. Rebounded well to become a steady contributor for the Brumbies in a damaging scrum.

Scott Sio recovered from a slow start to the season. Photo: Getty Images

2. Stephen Moore

It was a record-breaking year for Moore, who became the highest-capped Australian Super Rugby player of all time and  broke Jeremy Paul and Andrew Hore’s record for the most tries in a Super Rugby season by a hooker (seven). Alongside Christian Lealiifano, Moore led the Brumbies to the top of the Australian conference for the second time in three years.

3. Greg Holmes

A stalwart of Queensland and Australian rugby, Holmes continued to grow as a players this season, his last at Ballymore The Reds had their downfalls this season, but their scrum was a dominant force led by the veteran.

Greg Holmes finished off his Reds career in style. Photo: Getty Images

4. Rory Arnold

Became the tallest Wallaby ever in June when he debuted against England after making a name for himself with the Brumbies this season.

5. Adam Coleman

Coleman established himself as one of the most influential players for the Force alongside Dane Haylett-Petty in 2016, leading to a Wallabies debut in the third Test against England.

Adam Coleman enjoyed a breakout season for the Western Force. Photo: Getty Images

6. Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon enjoyed a stellar season for the Rebels and he did it while taking on a leadership role at the age of 21. McMahon captained the Rebels for large chunks of the season while Nic Stirzaker was injured, and leaped to career-best form in the Rebels backrow.

7. Michael Hooper

It was a mixed year for the Waratahs, but Hooper was his reliable self at openside flanker. Hooper was second in the Australian conference for tackles (154) behind Force captain Matt Hodgson, leading a late season resurgence from his side.

8. David Pocock

It wasn’t his best year but when David Pocock was on the park he lifted the Brumbies. The flanker will be missed in Canberra next season, as he heads to Japan and a season sabbatical.

While missing games, Pocock was his influential best when playing. Photo: Getty Images

9. Tomas Cubelli

The Argentinian international slipped straight into the Brumbies backline in 2016, adding spark, quick delivery and experience to their backline. The standout halfback in the Australian conference.

10. Christian Lealiifano

Was the most consistent player for the Brumbies’ backline in 2016 and an attacking general. With Matt Toomua missing for much of the season, Lealiifano stepped up  for the Brumbies, earning a return to the Wallabies squad for the first time since 2014.

Lealiifano stepped up as a leader in 2016. Photo: Getty Images

11. Luke Morahan

Morahan has been hindered by injury in recent seasons but his form for the Force earned him a Wallabies recall and his first Test cap since a 2012 debut. With the ball in hand, Morahan was one of the Force’s greatest attacking threats all season.

12. Reece Hodge

It’s amazing to think Reece Hodge had played no Super Rugby before 2016. The 21-year-old played like a seasoned veteran this year, stepping up in plenty of  different roles. Rebels coach Tony McGahan used him in almost every backline position this season and was the Rebels’ leading try scorer for the season with nine.

13. Israel Folau

Moved to the centres early in the season and the Waratahs continued to reap rewards. Folau showed just how dangerous he can be in attack, being the top try-scorer in Super Rugby season.

14. Sefanaia Naivalu

Sefa Naivalu shook off a serious injury to make an impact for the Rebels this season, finishing with five tries in his final five matches of the season. One thing that will excite Michael Cheika leading into the Rugby Championship is that Naivalu will be eligible for Wallabies selection in September.

15. Dane Haylett-Petty

The breakout player of the season, Haylett-Petty led Super Rugby for run metres in 2016, debuted for the Wallabies and in what was a disastrous season for the Force, put together some exciting solo efforts.

RESERVES

16. Andrew Ready

Took over from Saia Fainga’a as the starting hooker for the Reds in 2016 and impressed with his mongrel around the ruck and his scrummaging.

17. Allan Alaalatoa

The former Australia U20s star took the next step in his career, playing more game time for the Brumbies and was a solid backup for Wallabies prop Scott Sio.

18. Tom Robertson

The Waratahs scrum was woeful to start the season but Robertson was injected early in the season and impressed head coach Daryl Gibson.

19. Lopeti Timani

Played the majority of the season at lock alongside Luke Jones and while he isn’t the tallest second-rower running around, Timani made up for that with his work-rate and strength over the ball.

20. Liam Gill

Was the Reds best player in 2016 and will be sorely missed when he departs for Toulon later this year.

21. Nick Frisby

It was Frisby’s year to make a name for himself after the departure of Will Genia at the end of 2015, and he certainly did that. Rewarded with his Test debut in June.

22. Samu Kerevi

The Reds’ most dangerous attacking weapon, Kerevi was first in the Australian conference for defenders beaten, second for offloads and third for metres gained. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Samu Kerevi in the years to come.

23. Bernard Foley

 A slow start to the season after returning from Japan with a shoulder injury, Foley returned to the Waratahs starting side in round four, and helped  resurrect their season after a slow start. 

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Joe Tomane

Was in career-best form before injuring his knee in April. Tomane was the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby before he went down.

Dave Dennis

Off to the English Premiership in 2017, Dennis was his solid contributor for the Waratahs in the backrow all season.

Hendrik Tui

Starred for the Reds in his second season at the club. The Japanese international was the third forward in Super Rugby for defenders beaten and sixth for carries.

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