Australia’s form XV after six Super Rugby rounds

Elisha Pearce Columnist

By Elisha Pearce, Elisha Pearce is a Roar Expert

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    Warratahs fullback Israel Folau grimaces after being tackled. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    After six rounds of Super Rugby we have enough performance under the belt to assess the players this season. I’m going to lay down my Australian team of the tournament based on form displayed this year alone.

    It’s worth noting that Super Rugby and Test rugby are different beasts. Some players suit one environment more than others. Other players aren’t doing so well partly as a result of being in poor team circumstances.

    So, who would make a starting XV based on what they’ve done on the field this year?

    1. Greg Holmes
    2. Stephen Moore
    3. Paddy Ryan
    4. Hugh McMeniman
    5. Peter Kimlin
    6. Ben Mowen
    7. Liam Gill
    8. Fotu Auelua
    9. Nic White
    10. Matt Toomua
    11. Digby Ioane
    12. Ben Tapuai
    13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
    14. Alfi Mafi
    15. Jesse Mogg

    A few notes on the selections:

    Remember when Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau were 1a and 1b when it came to the best Australian hookers? This year and last Moore has shown he is the premier hooker of this generation.

    Ben Mowen, Liam Gill and Fotu Auelua would make a great Wallabies back-row. There’s lots of size, work ethic and potential disruption there.

    I would ask Auelua to get fitter. I’m not sure he’d go close to lasting the 80 in a Test match, he’s always blowing hard.

    Picking a halfback was interesting.

    Based on 65-odd minutes, Will Genia proved he is by far and away the best in Australia and probably the world when he steps up to the plate. But I didn’t feel like it was fair to pick him from only on part game.

    Nic White hasn’t been as good as last year and has missed a game now, but overall has been very safe and is a good field general.

    Some may point to the kind of influence Quade Cooper had in the Reds win over the Bulls and ask why he isn’t my choice over Matt Toomua. I’d rebut that claim by saying Cooper hasn’t done that nearly enough all year, while Toomua has calmly led his side around the field and done all the basics very nicely.

    Inside centre was a tough choice because Ben Tapuai and Kyle Godwin are both having very strong starts to the year.

    They are both wonderful on attack but Tapuai has just pipped Godwin due to his ability to stone people on defence. Tapuai also won the head to head while playing on a losing side.

    Selecting some second-rowers wasn’t fun for this purpose. I literally looked through every team-sheet to try and work out where the good performances were lurking. They just aren’t there for the most part.

    Going on what’s been done on the field this year, Peter Kimlin and Hugh McMeniman have stood out from a mediocre field. I’m really looking forward to some improvement from James Horwill as the season progresses because the cupboard is pretty bare.

    One person to watch is Ed O’Donoghue. He’s not yet the full package but has shown willingness and ability to get involved often. He needs to become a better lineout option to be truly considered a good second-row exponent.

    If you’re wondering why I selected Mafi in this side; check out some of his 109m running and 137m kicking on the weekend.

    He seems to average around 30m per kick from hand. That shows he’s fairly competent in that area. And he’s reached more than 90m running in a match three times this year, for the Force. That cannot be overstated.

    I didn’t come into this exercise intending to pick a bench for the team. I think a first XV is enough to get a picture of where the performances are coming from in Super Rugby. This isn’t a fantasy football experiment or a Wallabies selection.

    However, I’ll admit picking a bench did cross my mind while I was putting together the first team. Then, as I thought about it, realised there weren’t really many stand-outs that leap at you beyond these 15.

    Australia needs the experienced players that are flat-lining and some more of the young guns to really step up over the next couple of months.

    We have two good teams in the competition but not many individuals have been performing consistently well through the early part of the season.

    Elisha Pearce
    Elisha Pearce

    Long-time Roarer Elisha Pearce joined us as a rugby union expert in 2015. He also works for Fairfax Media and has confused more Roarers with his name than anyone in the history of the site.

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    The Crowd Says (77)

    • Roar Guru

      March 27th 2013 @ 2:36am
      biltongbek said | March 27th 2013 @ 2:36am | ! Report

      Good selections there, with my limited knowledge of all the Super rugby players I can’t argue much with that.

      Will have to pay more attention to the tight fives, the rest I am familiar with.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 6:59pm
        Newter said | March 27th 2013 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

        A lot of these guys will fall away in the big matches later in the season. Last year guys like Jesse Mogg and Ben Mowen just went missing altogether when the level of competition went up. But this is pretty much the form XV at the moment, sure.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 4:07am
      Hightackle said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:07am | ! Report

      Lealiifano has claims to 12 and if we are judging on the last game Cooper has claims on 10.
      I think about 10 of them will be in the 23 to face the Lions.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 12:53pm
        Elisha Pearce said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        Lealiifano has claims but I’d say he’s behind Tapuai at this stage. And probably only just even. Based on the six rounds this year anyway. Based on how he went last year too, he’d have a better claim.

        • March 27th 2013 @ 2:30pm
          Elisha Pearce said | March 27th 2013 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

          Probably just even with Godwin I meant?

          • March 28th 2013 @ 2:06am
            Red Baron said | March 28th 2013 @ 2:06am | ! Report

            Disagree. Taps and Lealiifano equal out in front. You can’t ignore combinations and Lealiifano has paired very well with Toomua and White. Godwin still just a bit back but still #3.
            Get rid of AAC and slide Taps to 13. AAC is fast becoming dead weight. Time to move on.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 4:22am
      bluerose said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:22am | ! Report

      i dont know if a combo of Cooper-Toomua-Leali’ifano would work in real life or am i losing my mind….lol

    • March 27th 2013 @ 5:08am
      Flying 14 said | March 27th 2013 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      I like this side and think it would be very competitive. I would think young Angus Cottral of the Force would get a look in at 6. He’s big, aggressive and mobile. Just what the Wallabies need.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 5:16am
      mania said | March 27th 2013 @ 5:16am | ! Report

      if CL is IC then u need a power player at OC

    • March 27th 2013 @ 5:22am
      Sickofthe10debate. said | March 27th 2013 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      Yep. Pretty much spot on based on form shown thus far. With CL having plenty of good moments for the Brumbies, it’s nice to see some good depth developing at 12. As someone (I can’t remember who) said somewhere the other day, I just hope the Force don’t get tempted to push Godwin into 10. Similarly, I hope he doesn’t succumb to the affliction that seems to have affected other potentially brilliant 12s in recent times and at some time insist on playing 10.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 12:56pm
        Elisha Pearce said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        I said that yesterday about Godwin. He’s having a great breakout year at 12 this year. I’d have him in a Spring Tour squad at minimum from what I’ve seen so far. Don’t wanna rush him along but he needs to have just a little taste.
        Putting him at 10 wouldn’t be smart.

        • March 27th 2013 @ 6:54pm
          Gaffa said | March 27th 2013 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

          He reminds me alot of conrad smith with his defence and ball running.

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