The Pecking Order: Openside flankers

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia has never been short of sevens, but who are the standouts this season?

We've ranked the 7s in Wallabies contention at this point in the year.

1. Michael Hooper

Hooper faces the toughest test of his Super Rugby career this season, leading a battling Waratahs side for the first time as its full-time captain. The 25-year-old’s defensive efforts have been phenomenal, making 79 tackles in his eight games. Two tries for the year also underlines his finishing abilities. The flanker, who became the youngest player to hit 100 Super Rugby games in round four against the Brumbies, has barely missed a minute this season, with a blood binning against the Kings the only time he’s been off the field.

2. Chris Alcock

Chris Alcock wants to prove himself in the Brumbies' number seven. Photo: Getty ImagesFilling the shoes of David Pocock is no easy feat but Chris Alcock has managed the pressure of stepping into the Brumbies number seven with ease. The former Force flanker leads all comers across the Super Rugby competition in tackles, with 85 through his seven games - an average 12 tackles per game.

3. Colby Faingaa

Colby Faingaa is another who has grabbed an opportunity this season, his most consistent yet. The 26-year-old has missed one game, with the impending birth of his first child, but has been among the Rebels’ best when he has played, making their breakdown a force to be reckoned with. Has eight turnovers from five games, and a season-high of 19 tackles against the Highlanders.

4. George Smith

George Smith has been effective for the Reds. Photo: Getty ImagesGeorge Smith has had a mixed start to his Queensland stint but still manages to be relatively consistent in a battling side, fourth in the competition for turnovers won, and second only to Scott Fardy in Australia. The veteran has declared he has little interest in taking up a national spot after returning to Australia, but it’s hard to completely ignore him.

5.Matt Hodgson

Hodgson had a delayed start to the year with a hamstring injury but has been in full flight since coming back into the team. Seems unlikely to make his return to the Wallabies after almost four years out of the fold, but is still making an impact in his final Super Rugby season.

Injured/Unavailable 

Sean McMahon will be up against it to make the June series after suffering a knee injury in his return from ankle surgery.

David Pocock is currently halfway through his season sabbatical.

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