Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round five

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Waratahs, Reds and Brumbies all secured encouraging wins in round five.

Here's who stood out from the crowd in the Australian Conference.

1. James Slipper (3rd appearance) - Reds

The Reds front row playing, collectively, as a dominant force has been a constant theme through their three straight wins.

Slipper is a very big part of that, manhandling his Argentinian opposite number at scrum time, making eight tackles and nine runs to boot.

2. Damien Fitzpatrick (2) - Waratahs

Damien Fitzpatrick starred for the Tahs. Photo: WalmsleyFitzpatrick starred in a Waratahs pack that is often outgunned by their star studded teammates in the backs.

The Tahs hooker was the primary source of go forward which allowed the backline to flourish, producing two line breaks, a tackle bust, a try assist and 28 determined metres from his eight runs.

3. Taniela Tupou (3) - Reds

Tupou didn't shred the Jaguares with ball in hand as he has done in previous weeks but he did terrorise their scrum, alongside Slipper.

4. Izack Rodda (3) - Reds

Rodda made lineout life hell for the Jaguares. Photo: Getty ImagesRodda's performance against the Jaguares was one of, if not the best, match he has played in his short Reds career.

He has become an elite defensive lineout operator - making life hell for every opposition hooker he faces - and churns through work around the field like a machine.

5. Kane Douglas (1) - Reds

Douglas has taken the opportunity handed to him by Lukhan Tui's suspension with both hands and his performance in Buenos Aires was a culmination of that improvement.

He is currently the team's enforcer - each of his seven tackles jolting Jaguares runners - and is sticking his hand up for more carries, too.

6. Lachlan McCaffrey (2) - Brumbies

Another industrious performance from McCaffrey, who, in David Pocock's absence, has churned through plenty of tough work at the breakdown.

The new recruit busted three tackles, dished a try assist and made 35 metres from his 11 runs, which complemented his seven tackles on the other side of the ball.

7. Michael Hooper (3) - Waratahs

Michael Hooper was a defensive enforcer on Sunday. Photo: WalmsleyAnother week, another tremendous performance from the Waratahs skipper.

The stats say it all - five tackle busts, two line breaks, a try assist and 42 metres from nine runs, with seven tackles thrown in for good measure.

8. Caleb Timu (1) - Reds

Timu would have featured in last week's TOTW if it wasn't for an incredible Amanaki Mafi performance but this week, he was impossible to leave out.

A second straight start in which he grabbed the Reds attack by the scruff of the neck and led it around the park, making things happen with every touch.

An incredible 18 tackles to go with five tackle busts, two line breaks and 62 metres from his 12 runs.

More performances like this will undoubtedly catch Michael Cheika's eye.

9. James Tuttle (1) - Reds

Tuttle is an underrated commodity at the base of Queensland's breakdown but he has formed a sturdy combination alongside Jono Lance.

He is a vocal link between forwards and backs, his goal kicking is astute and now, his running game is starting to develop.

10. Bernard Foley (1) - Waratahs

Bernard Foley was in fine form on Sunday. Photo: WalmlseyFoley's second half was sublime - the driving force behind a Waratahs attack which tore the Rebels to pieces.

The radar off the kicking tee was on song, too, slotting 9 of 10 shots at goal.

11. Curtis Rona (2) - Waratahs

As the second half opened up, Rona put his stamp on the game.

The ball found his hands 10 times and he made an incredible six tackle busts, four line breaks and 69 metres with those runs.

12. Kurtley Beale (1) - Waratahs

When Foley fires it often means Beale is at his very best and that's exactly how things panned out on Sunday.

Beale was more involved with ball in hand en route to two tackle busts, two try assists, a line break and 44 metres from 13 runs.

His cross field kicks to Israel Folau were spot on, too.

13. Lalakai Foketi (1) - Waratahs

The attention Foley and Beale ended up drawing allowed Foketi to find space and he took full advantage, amassing 59 metres, two tackle busts and three line breaks from his seven runs.

14. Israel Folau (1) - Waratahs

Folau's aerial presence took centre stage against the Rebels. Photo: WalmsleySurprisingly, this is Folau's first entry in the TOTW but it was, by far, his best performance this season.

He soared above Rebels players to claim cross field kicks with regularity and when he didn't quite make it to the contest in time, he sacked the Melbourne player under the ball and twice, won turnovers for his side.

It's those invaluable touches, along with his four tackle busts, three line breaks and 36 metres with ball in hand, that must have both Daryl Gibson and Michael Cheika considering a permanent move to the right wing.

15. Bryce Hegarty (1) - Waratahs

Part of the added benefit of pushing Folau to the wing was the inclusion of Hegarty in the starting XV and he made the most of that opportunity.

He bobbed up at the right time in support, scoring a try and throwing the final pass for one another among his two tackle busts, two line breaks and 50 metres with ball in hand.