Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round Two

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Super Rugby's round two is done and dusted and there's still only one Aussie team to have registered a win.

The Brumbies' win over the Rebels in Canberra on Friday night maintained their perfect start to the season.

But the news was not as good for the other Aussie teams, with the Waratahs and Reds losing again, to leave three of the four Australian sides still searching for a win, although the Reds do have two bonus points for their two close losses on the road.

Here are the Australian players that shone this week.

1. JP Smith

The challenge of playing in South Africa in front of family and friends at Ellis Park and taking on Springbok legend Jannie du Plessis brought the best out in Smith, who at one stage, swapped sides of the scrum and played at tighthead, helping the Reds win an unlikely penalty with two wingers packing down while the team was reduced to 13 men. His 68 minutes on the back of just one match this season on the back of surgery to both knees was outstanding.

2. Folau Fainga'a

Picked up where he left off last week, helping the Brumbies to a second consecutive Super Rugby win. Had a tight battle with Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi but took the points win with his efforts including a try from a bustling short-side run. Did plenty of work in defence too as the Rebels threatened to push back into the match in the second half.

3. Allan Alaalatoa

Another strong effort from the Brumbies captain, who is leading by example in Canberra. Did plenty of tough work up front after an effort he termed "not good enough" against the Reds in week one. Was a warrior in defence as well, repelling the Rebels' second-half charge.

4. Izack Rodda

Returned to the Reds' starting line-up after coming off the bench in week one following off-season ankle surgery and added another dimension to the lineout and scrum in a tough battle against the Lions. Made some desperate tackles in his own red zone to keep the Lions at bay in a strong overall performance.

5. Matt Philip

Philip is sitting equal second in the competition in lineouts won and is coming into his own after a couple of strong Super Rugby seasons. With Rory Arnold having left Australian shores, there are opportunities for Philip to become a regular in gold and he's started his Super Rugby campaign well.

6. Rob Valetini

Continued on from his strong round one performance with another busy performance against the Rebels on Friday night. Had nine tackles for 24m and made nine tackles to help the Brumbies dominate at the breakdown. Honourable mention to the Reds' Angus Scott-Young whose workaholic game against the Lions put him in the top men in the league for tackles won.

7. Michael Hooper

The Waratahs had an afternoon they'd rather forget in Newcastle but one thing remained the same - Michael Hooper's enormous workrate. Hooper has only one gear - flat out - and he was going flat chat again on Saturday, making 42m from 11 carries, including two clean breaks to do his best to help the Tahs.

8. Isi Naisarani 

The Aussie no.8s have started the season with a bang, with last week's winner in this position, Harry Wilson, again having a good game in a losing team for the Reds. Jack Dempsey was also strong in his first outing for the Waratahs but most attention was on the clash between Wallabies incumbent Naisarani and challenger Pete Samu in Canberra. Despite another strong game from Samu, Naisarani took the points with a showing that included a massive 15 carries, an effort that put him equal third in the league.

9. Joe Powell

A key link between the outstanding Brumbies backs and young flyhalf Noah Lolesio, Powell played his role to perfection against the Rebels. But he wasn't just a ball shuffler, making probing runs to keep the Rebels defence on their toes and linking with Pete Samu in a move that led to a Solomone Kata try.

10. Noah Lolesio  

In just two Super Rugby games, Lolesio has announced himself as a long-term player for the Brumbies and a likely Wallabies candidate by the end of the season. There have been plenty of highlights - the deft backhand pass to Tom Banks for a try on Friday night, a cool drop goal in the second half against the Rebels and a composed second-half push to help the comeback against the Reds. But it's Lolesio's composure at such a young age that's winning him plenty of fans in high places.

11. Tom Wright

Wright is showing his decision to return from a stint in rugby league was the right one with another assured performance in the Brumbies' win over the Rebels. It wasn't just his try, Wright looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, something backed up by stats that show he had three clean breaks on his way to making 50m for the match. Gets the nod, just, over Waratahs rising star Mark Nawaqanitawase, who is the league's equal leading try-scorer this season.

12. Irae Simone

On the back of a strong debut for the Brumbies last year and a solid NRC season, Simone is showing himself to be a player on the rise after another strong midfield showing for the Brumbies. His midfield combination with Tevita Kuridrani continues to grow and his elusive running and solid defence make him the complete package.

13.Jordan Petaia

The Reds still need to find a way to get Petaia into the game more but the Wallabies centre did plenty on both sides of the ball in a tight contest in Johannesburg. Was dragged down just short of the line in a movement that ended in a try that helped the Reds regain the lead late in the match and finished with 35m from six carries as well as 10 tackles in a solid day's work.

14. Solomone Kata

Continues to show why there was such interest from the Brumbies in helping him make the transition from rugby league with another strong showing that included a try, a clean break, defender beaten and a stinging defensive effort.

15. Dane Haylett-Petty

Haylett-Petty is leading by example for the Rebels, with his efforts helping spark their fightback against the Brumbies. His 102m from 13 carries pushed him to the top of the Super League standings in defenders beaten, while he is second in the standings for metres gained and third in carries. Building a strong case for incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to consider.