I saw an absolutely hideous “team of the season” from Super Rugby today (seriously, there were 5 Crusaders in and only 1 Jaguares representative) so I thought I’d come up with a better one.
1. Lizo Gqoboka – the Bulls Loose-head made 122 tackles, ran, 430 metres, made 7 linebreaks and scored 2 tries in an epic 1,038 minutes played this season a whole 60 minutes more than his nearest competitor.
2. Folau Fainga’a – the Brumbies hooker benefited from playing for a team who perfected the rolling maul this season whilst scoring 12 tries but he also won 18 turnovers, made 128 tackles and bust 18 tackles, exactly what Cheika needs in his Wallaby squad.
3. Sekope Kefu played 1,012 minutes in 15 games this season and ended the season with a 92% tackle success rate! He also made 4 tackle busts and 8 offloads whilst averaging 5.3 metres per carry. (Allan Ala’alatoa was in the team I saw and he played more minutes, concede fewer penalties and won more turnovers but his tackle % was just 91% and averaged under 4 yards per carry so it’s 50/50)
4. Marcos Kremer – he’s just 21 but he made 19 tackle busts, ran for 624 metres (28 more than any other lock) scored 2 tries and made 194 tackles (85%)
5. Adam Coleman – mostly because he’s Adam flipping Coleman but also because the Rebels season died when his shoulder got injured. When he he was on the pitch he made 1 tackle every 7 minutes, had a 90% success rate and made 4 turnovers.
6. Lachlan Boshier – the 24 old should have a long and successful All Black carrier ahead of him, he’s the smartest backrower I’ve seen all season. He scored 5 tries from just 60 runs (1 in 12), it took Pete Samu 74 runs to score his 5 (nearly 1 in 15), Shannon Frizell scored 6 from 91 runs (over 1 in 15). Kwagga Smith actually scored once every 12.1 runs and he appeared at 8 in the team I saw, but he conceded more penalties and missed 4 more tackles in 68 fewer minutes than Boshier. Boshier’s tackle success rate was a mind bending 92% (Smith’s was 84%).
7. Du’Plessis Kirifi – another youngster with a huge future. He’s just 22 and an absolute menace at the breakdown, he made 2 more turnovers than Matt Todd in less than half the minutes Todd was on the field! Kirifi made a turnover for every 47 minutes of game time, Todd 1 for every 113 minutes! Kirifi also scored the same number of tries as Todd (1) and averaged 6.8 metres per carry compared to Todd’s 4.1 metres.
8. Michael Wells – the Waratahs number 8 is a David Lyons clone. He doesn’t look like your “modern back row forward” but he’s an incredibly effective 8. He averaged 5.6 metres per carry and carried on average (Daniel du Preez averaged 5.1 metres). He also had a tackle success of 93%, the same as Ardie Savea.
9. TJ Perenara – he has to be the unanimous choice if only for competitive edge and general spikeyness, he’s also lightning fast. He scored more tries than any other 9 (6), averaged 8 metres per carry (Will Genia averaged 6.78, Ross Cronje 7.1) and had an 82% tackle success rate the same as Aaron Smith.
10. Richie Mo’unga – you could argue for Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, but he seemed slightly overcome by the occasion in the final while Mo’unga looked like he was ready to take the All Black 10 shirt away from Beauden Barrett although his 62% tackle success is a pretty big red flag for opposition attack coaches. Hayden Parker had a pretty sensational season with the boot for the Sunwolves but didn’t do much else. You could argue that Damian McKenzie was the most important 10 because when he got injured the Chiefs hopes really evaporated and he wasn’t at his vintage best when he was fit.
11. Rieko Ioane – Sevu Reece’s tries might have got the headlines but Ioane made 23 linebreaks and 37 tackle busts. He also averaged 10 and half metres per run and scored 20% of his teams tries this season.
12. Samu Kerevi – he was the only shining light for Australian rugby this season. He carried for 1,546 metres (226 more than any other Centre), bust more tackles than any other and made more offloads than any other Centre too (29). His tackle success rate of 73% isn’t the best but his line breaking ability is so good he gets a pass.
13. Ngani Laumape – you can’t ignore someone who scored 13 tries. I loved watching Matias Moroni and Matias Orlando but they’ve been swapping between the 13 channel and the wing and Jack Goodhue still looks like the best 13 in world rugby to me, but Laumape is an absolute workhorse, he averaged 9.4 metres per run, made the most linebreaks (16), bust 66 tackles and had an 81% tackle success, absolutely monstrous.
14. Ben Lam – he bust more tackles than any other winger (51), averaged 10.6 metres per run and made 16 linebreaks on 108 runs, so 1 linebreak every 7 runs. His 75% tackle success seems to put Steve Hansen off but he looks the business to me.
15. Melani Nani – he puts the sexy in sexy rugby. He only scored 5 tries (still 11% of the Blues total tries this season) but he averaged 10 and a half metres per run, bust 47 tackles and made 16 linebreaks from 152 runs so less than 10 runs per linebreak. Technically David Havili had some better numbers; more tries & tackle busts but he had a lower average per run and fewer offloads. Havili also missed more tackles, Nani just missed 8 all season (85%) and Nani is so fast he’s great to watch. Worcester have got a bright shining star next season.