The Super Rugby Australian Conference team of the week is back!
There were mixed results for the Aussie teams in round one, but we’ve picked our starting XV standouts.
1. Nic Mayhew
On debut for the Brumbies, the former Blue scored a try and added some muscle to the ACT pack. He won a turnover as well as making a handful of tackles. It was a relatively even scrum battle between the Brumbies and the Crusaders, a positive for a new-look Brumbies pack.
2. Tolu Latu
Latu was immense around the breakdown, stealing three turnovers against the Force, a handy skill for the hooker to have. Didn’t lose a lineout on his throw either, from 12 attempts, though the Waratahs set piece will be looking for improvement as a whole after Saturday night. Latu more than held his own against former mentor Tatafu Polota-Nau in the scrum, besting his ex-teammate at times. Makes the Wallabies competition very interesting.
3. Allan Alaalatoa
Allan Alaalatoa was missing his partner in scrum crime, Scott Sio, on Saturday, but it didn’t seem to faze him. Was a big part of a strong performance from the Brumbies pack and a force defensively as well, making 11 tackles, with a perfect strike rate as well.
4. Adam Coleman
Coleman looked like he hadn’t missed a beat on his return to Super Rugby on Saturday night, playing with his aggressive vigour. Couldn’t resist a few words with Paddy Ryan partway through the second half, but that’s all part of his package.
5. Will Skelton
A short-term stint with Saracens put Will Skelton on the front foot for round one, in what was one of his best starts to a season. Showed endurance he hasn’t in a while, a far cry from last year’s slow start to the season.
6. Adam Korczyk
Reds coach Nick Stiles rates this kid very highly and it didn’t take long to see why, in the Reds’ 28-26 win over the Sharks. Korczyk was into everything and when caught at the bottom of rucks was able to set his scrumhalf up perfectly for the next phase, with pinpoint accurate ball placement. The 22-year-old is going places. Scott Fardy was another in the mix here after looking back to his best in Christchurch.
7. Chris Alcock
As usual, this was the most hotly contested spot of the team, with George Smith and Michael Hooper delivering their usual tireless performances. Filling the shoes of David Pocock, though, is no easy task and Alcock stepped up in his first match for the Brumbies. The ex-Force seven finished with three turnovers and amassed 11 tackles in the game, making him a major threat around the breakdown. More performances like that and the Brumbies will be pretty happy with their new acquisition.
8. Scott Higginbotham
He’s had a turbulent fortnight after a late-night arrest but Higginbotham barely put a foot wrong in his Queensland Reds return. The 30-year-old was an attacking threat, scoring a try as well as adding 51 run metres and having a hand in another.
9. Ryan Louwrens
Louwrens has been sitting behind Ian Prior in the Force’s nine spot but it’d be hard to see him giving up the start anytime soon. Louwrens was clean and efficient when passing out of rucks and combined well with his flyhalf, Jono Lance, early in the piece. That combination could be an influential one for the Force in 2017.
10. Jono Lance
Lance scored all of the Force's points in their tight loss to the Waratahs and showed again the quality of player he can be. An abrasive 10, he’s strong defensively (nine tackles) but also found himself in the right positions in attack, leading to their only try.
11. James Dargaville
Dargaville is a promising youngster at the Brumbies and his potential against some tricky opposition in the Crusaders. Was unlucky to be yellow-carded after a collision with a flying Israel Dagg.
12. Bill Meakes
The Force centres threw their weight around against the Waratahs and it paid dividends. Meakes, on debut for the Force, committed himself to rucks and made six tackles. Was included in wider Wallabies camps after moving to Perth late last year and looked keen to make an impression from the get go.
13. Samu Kerevi
It felt like every time Kerevi touched the ball at Suncorp Stadium it resulted in a try. The 23-year-old was quiet in the early stages but came into his own as the time ticked on. Made a statement to the rest of the competition, and especially the Wallabies staff, about the 13 pecking order for 2017, with 74 run metres and two tries.
14. Reece Robinson
Robinson was a surprise packet for the Waratahs on Saturday, especially in front of goal. The 29-year-old took over the kicking responsibilities in the absence of Bernard Foley, who missed the opener with concussion. In two weeks has kicked 12 from 15, pleasing his coaches. Has looked more comfortable in attack through preseason and round one, beating three defenders against the Force.
15. Andrew Kellaway
Kellaway has taken another step up this season, if his round one performance was anything to go by. The 21-year-old made the most metres of anyone in a match where both teams were caught in the grind. A solid performance to kick off his second Super Rugby season.