The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 17

Connor Bennett Roar Guru

By Connor Bennett, Connor Bennett is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Each week we’ll be looking at the best of the best in Australian rugby and piecing together the top 15 players out of the Aussie Super Rugby sides from the round gone by.

    The final round of the year to cap off a dismal year in the Australian Conference and it was pretty what you’d expect.

    Two sides conceding 40 points in losing efforts, the Reds and Waratahs, while our only finals hopes in the Brumbies were fairly comfortably dispatched by the Chiefs.

    The Rebels were swept in the second half to lose to the visiting Jaguares in Melbourne as they nervously await their future in the competition.

    Finally, the only win of the round, and possibly the one with the most ramifications, was the Force, who landed 40 points on the aforementioned Waratahs to take second place in the conference in what could be a defining moment in their hope for survival.

    So with four losses from four games, let’s have a look at the best Australian Super Rugby had to offer for the final time this year.

    1. Sef Fa’agase (Reds)
    Not really sure how to kick off the list this week thanks to a string of fairly underwhelming performances from the loosehead props across all five sides.

    Without laying it on Fa’agase, he’s the best of a bad bunch basically, which has really categorised most positions in this list nearly every week unfortunately.

    2. James Hanson (Rebels)
    The Rebels had a fairly up and down night in the scrum but Hanson was able to hold his own in the front row as one of the only Aussie sides not to really be completely run over at scrum time.

    Strong up the guts in defence as well as with ball in hand without setting the game on fire, made some good metres over the advantage line as the Rebels took control in the first half.

    3. Taniela Tupou (Reds)
    The 21-year-old Tongan has struggled to nail down a starting spot with the Reds this year but showed glimpses of his potential against the Highlanders this week.

    He racked up more running metres than any other Reds player in the game and went on a tackle-busting rampage around the fringes.

    Taniela Tupuo Reds running against the Rebels

    (Credit: Sportography/QRU)

    4. Ned Hanigan (Waratahs)
    It’s difficult to pick and Tahs players after the finish to the season they had, ending up second last in the Australian Conference and an astonishing 15th of 18 teams overall this year.

    Yet Hanigan has popped his head up and landed a spot in the team this week as he continues to show the fight and form that the rest of his side are lacking.

    The 22-year-old from Dubbo wrestled and powered his way through the Force line when he could and showed off some of the counter-rucking defensive work that earned him his Wallabies debut this year.

    5. Izack Rodda (Reds)
    It’s strange having this many Reds players take up the opening spots despite the scoreline they copped this week but when watching the game, most of the damage was really done in the backline and the forwards fought hard.

    Rodda was able to crash over in the corner leading into the halftime break to stem the bloodflow a bit, but it’s the aggression and determination through the line that really shone, breaking a host of tackles and breaking the advantage line nearly every touch.

    Rodda played his part in the lineout as well, executing well and keeping the Reds moving forward from the sideline.

    6. Sean McMahon (Rebels)
    Once touted as the Wallabies long-term solution in the No. 6 jersey, poor Sean McMahon has had a rough time of it in 2017.

    He missed the opening months of the season with ankle and knee injuries and was only able to muster up three games before succumbing to a dislocated wrist that kept him out of the June Tests and all but the finale of the Super Rugby season.

    In what could be his last game for the Rebels with rumours of a move to Japan on the table, the 23-year-old put in a performance that reminded many of the form he can carry and the player he can be with a powerful running game and the play making skills to offload all over the shop and keep the play rolling.

    Sean McMahon of the Rebels fends off Nick Phipps

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    7. Matt Hodgson (Force)
    You just have to have him in here.

    What a game it was for him on Saturday, notching up a win against the Tahs, bagging a rare try, just his 20th in Super Rugby, and even slotting a penalty goal after the siren to cap off the perfect farewell for the Force foundation player.

    A huge night for the Force as a whole and a fitting end for a stalwart of Super Rugby and a driving force behind rugby in Western Australia.

    8. Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)
    Is it ever anyone else?

    Although Isireli Naisarani had a standout performance for the Force, he can’t quite match the destructive might that has been Amanaki Mafi this season.

    The Tongan-born Japanese international was the only Rebel to hit three figures in running metres, a feat that has become extremely common for his this season as the Jaguares struggled to contain him.

    Line breaks and tackle busts were at a premium whenever he would take on the line and his performance was another standout in 2017.

    9. Nic Stirzaker (Rebels)
    A fairly non-descript week for all the halfbacks in the Aussie Conference with no one really performing terribly, but no one really standing out either.

    Which leads to another unfortunate case of being the best option from a dodgy pool.

    Stirzaker hasn’t really been able to crack the Wallabies glass ceiling since debuting for the Rebels five years ago but showed off a lot of the zippy running game and consistent feed for his halves that have allowed him to play a constant starting role for the club.

    10. Quade Cooper (Reds)
    Gardon-Bachop and Hawera were missing for the most part for the Rebels and Brumbies respectively, while Peter Grant was outshone by Foley in the battle of the Force and Tahs.

    In saying that, Foley was far from his best in a game where the Tahs only managed one try. So here you go, Quade Cooper wins flyhalf of the week.

    His offloading game was a subtle surprise against the much more fancied Highlanders, making a few tackle breaks and latching onto support play fairly well across the 80 minutes. Plenty of kicking metres in there as well.


    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    11. Marika Koroibete (Rebels)
    Koroibete is an extremely destructive runner with the ball and has shown off his pace and power down the sideline all season, just very inconsistently.

    He caused havoc down the wing against the Jaguares this week, making a pair of line breaks and finding backplay on more than one occasion, not to mention a few offloads here and there.

    12. Reece Hodge (Rebels)
    The 22-year-old Wallaby had a ripper of a game in a losing cause against the Jaguares, keeping his name in the hat for the inside centre spot for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

    Not only did he set up and finish off the opening try of the game from deep inside his own half, but he played a crucial role off the tee, kicking five penalty goals to keep the Rebels in it despite the Argentines bagging four tries to two.

    Not only was he making the line breaks, he was setting them up as well, playing provider more often than not in as one of the best players on the field for both sides.

    13. Curtis Rona (Force)
    Rona made the most of one of his few chances in the starting line up for the Force this year, setting up two long range tries in the first half alone as the Western Australian side raced out of the gates against the Tahs.

    His tackle busts, offloads and line breaks all lent to forward play for his side in one of the more selfless and support play based performances of the week.

    14. Izaia Perese (Reds)
    Ok this is the last one I swear, Perese was a bit better than the rest of the fairly average choices in the 14 jersey this week.

    He pulled off a peach of a try assist late in the game for Caleb Timu while dancing along the sideline and being taken out of touch by the defence.

    Apart from that, there were a few good runs, keeping the sliding defence busy for the Highlanders.

    15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)
    You better believe I’m ending the year with Israel Folau as the fullback of the week. While some, or most, have questions his enthusiasm and playing style this season, he still tears it up.

    The numbers don’t lie and Folau was the only man from either side to run over 100 metres with ball in hand, picking up two line break assists as he tended to play a supporting role in the opening half.

    Offloading was firing as well and broke a bevvy of first tackles as he dominated the kick return.

    Do you agree with the XV? You’re sporting fans, of course you don’t, so let us know who you think should or shouldn’t be in the side for this week.

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    The Crowd Says (160)

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:28am
      Harry said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      I know this is an opinion site and good on Connor for writing this, but that XV is ludicrous and a joke.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:44am
      MH01 said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Folau?? Did you watch the same game?

      Two force players and two tahs…. thanks for the laugh. Put the force team down, 1-15 , any team of the week that includes tahs from that performance is a joke. Tahs were absolutely horrible. 1-15….some put effort in, though it was probably the worst game I’ve seem….since since last week

    • July 17th 2017 @ 8:12am
      Dan in Devon said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Has the ARU forbidden you to select Force players?

    • July 17th 2017 @ 8:30am
      Red Menace said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Yet another joke article from The Roar. Hanigan, you are having us on???

      Why bother coming on this site?

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 9:26am
        Machooka said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        ‘Why bother coming on this site?’

        Is this a rhetorical question?

        ‘Cause I’m buggered if I know why you come here 😉

        • Roar Rookie

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:40am
          Dave_S said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

          Who says chooks can’t drop one from a good height, eh 🙂

        • July 17th 2017 @ 12:05pm
          Perthstayer said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Chook and Dave

          I think some people’s tone is wrong but their views are justified. I didn’t see any other SR games, and I suspect not everyone commenting here did.

          Although I will add that anyone playing better than TPN, Meakes, and Ruru must have been outstanding. Hodgo’s try was down to Ruru’s aggressive tackle of the Tahs 8, having nullified Tahs 9 (not sure who was on at the time as I was too delirious!).

          Folau had a terrible game. Blew several tries. I was behind posts and he came our way several times. He had more space to work in than he regularly does and he just needed a little awareness and to use the support players.

          (Lots of laughter at the game being brought forward 2 hours to accommodate east coast TV. Even though it meant support was down to 10,000)

          • Roar Rookie

            July 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm
            Dave_S said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            Perthstayer I think it’s fair to say Force deserved a few more selections over Tahs (and I was very chuffed for the Force and Hodgo in particular)!- what I’m and I think Chook are saying is there’s no need to go in with the metaphorical boots on an author who’s writing what even he would agree is no more that a fluff piece. Too much angst for a Monday morning.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 12:53pm
              Perthstayer said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

              “angst” as defined by a WF fan: let down, brushed aside, disrespected.

              BTW. I was in a box and left 1.5 hours after game ended. Yet not only was Hodgo still doing a circuit of the ground signing autographs, in the pouring rain, but 4 or 5 other Force players had also stayed out with him!!

              • Roar Rookie

                July 17th 2017 @ 1:25pm
                Dave_S said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                Yep no doubt it was great to see. FWIW I have all fingers and toes crossed for Force and Rebs survival.

                Angst for a Reds or Tahs fan is “can’t win a game even 3/4 full of Wallabies” and “can’t pull a crowd even in Rugby heartland”

              • Roar Pro

                July 17th 2017 @ 1:26pm
                Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                The entire squad including squad members who didn’t play on Friday (and Hodgo’s two young sons) did the complete circuit. Thousands of fans stood in driving rain for up to an hour dnd a half for a few seconds to personally congratulate Hodgo and the team.

              • July 19th 2017 @ 8:52pm
                ThugbyFan said | July 19th 2017 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

                Crazy and PerthStay, that is awesome. When the Tahs have a “meet the players on the field” event by allowing kids on the field after the match, some hang around for nearly 30 minutes while some big names don’t even bother showing up. Sometimes they have an apres-match walk around the fence which lasts about 15 minutes at most.

                Wasn’t it great of the Force players (true they still don’t know if Saturday was their last match together) who stayed in pouring rain and didn’t the crowd LOVE them for doing it. Sure it was a special event but the organisers didn’t walk in and stop it. Now that is good attitude with a capital A and fans soak it up.

                Lets compare that to the Tahs outfit. At SFS against the Blues, before the match they had a couple of girls teams out on the field in junior rugby club outfits (not sure what they did as they were standing around when I walked in). These kids were about 8-12 years old I imagine. The girls were then lined up and waited in the cold for nearly 10 minutes for the Tah’s players to run on the field between them. Guess what, not one kid was interviewed by the loud Tahs bloke running around with a mike and camera, none were asked who is their fav player or are they enjoying themselves or even shown on the big screen while they were lined up. NOT a one, add to that the players just ran past them, I didn’t see anyone acknowledging the kids’ efforts. The kids were basically ignored for the whole time they were lined up while the screen blabbered rubbish, then shunted off once the “stars” had run on the field. These kids put in big time for the Tahs and just got no return respect. I wonder if they would think all the travel, standing in the cold and a late night home was worth returning if they are asked to do it again.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 8:56am
      Val said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      You have got to be kidding. This article is one way to destroy your own credibility as a writer. Please tell me that you went to bed early and missed the Force v Waratahs game. As just one example if Hannigan was better than Coleman then I’ll go back and have my eyes tested again. Please put forward a team on the form shown in the actual game.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 11:01am
        Charlie Turner said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        I caught a glimpse of Hannigan and I was reminded of a young Schalk Burger…….and then the rugby started!

        • Roar Rookie

          July 17th 2017 @ 11:29am
          piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          I don’t remember seeing Hannigan at all – was he the bloke Coleman was dominating?

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm
            PeterK said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report


            Hannigan is certainly Mumm 2.0, invisibale but lauded

            Coleman certainly deserves to be in the team,. best lock of the round

            • Roar Rookie

              July 17th 2017 @ 12:08pm
              piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

              I think a lot of Mumm’s appeal is that he is a nice guy.

              Obviously we don’t see that, and it isn’t at all relevant when picking a side, but if you know and like him, perhaps it skews you towards wanting him in your side.

              He was one of the first to approach and congratulate Hodgson from the Tahs and you could see the way the Wallabies / ex Tahs in the Force spoke to him and were apparently genuinely keen to catch up that he is well liked.

              Like I said, not relevant, but possibly a factor

            • July 19th 2017 @ 9:44pm
              ThugbyFan said | July 19th 2017 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

              N.Hanigan won quite a few lineouts so that puts him as the best 2nd Rower since forever. Surely he is Colin Meads, John Eales and Martin Johnson rolled into one. The patron saint of clowns, M.Cheika said something along those lines on “Kick n Chase”. 🙂

          • Roar Rookie

            July 17th 2017 @ 12:19pm
            Dave_S said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            I saw him crowd surfing a maul at one stage. Definitely head and shoulders (and @rse) above Coleman

            • Roar Rookie

              July 17th 2017 @ 2:11pm
              piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

              Was that him? We thought it was Hooper but it was at the other end of the field

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 4:22pm
                Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

                Have you ever seen Hoops do anything other than tag along at the back of a maul?

              • July 18th 2017 @ 2:28pm
                scottd said | July 18th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

                OMG, I thought Hooper was playing inside center!!

                Actually i thought he and Hanigan both had pretty good games on Saturday. They both worked hard at least.

          • Roar Pro

            July 17th 2017 @ 2:10pm
            Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

            He was the bloke litterally lying on top of an advancing Force mau, completely off the ground andl being carried along.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 4:21pm
            Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

            In the Maul, off his feet?
            What do the Rules say about that

            • Roar Rookie

              July 18th 2017 @ 2:44pm
              piru said | July 18th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

              He wasn’t so much in the maul as on it

          • July 19th 2017 @ 9:33pm
            ThugbyFan said | July 19th 2017 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

            Hi Piru, can you or any Perthian supporter fill me in on how the U20 Scottish bloke, Lewis Carmichael went. Did he get much time on the field and how did he go. 🙂

            • July 23rd 2017 @ 8:12am
              scottd said | July 23rd 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

              If you mean for the season he went pretty well. Pretty active around the paddock and not afraid to carry the ball up. Overall a good player.
              How did we end up with him ? Did someone know him ?

        • July 19th 2017 @ 9:29pm
          ThugbyFan said | July 19th 2017 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

          Same locks as M.Hooper, training that hair flick. No wonder he is M.Cheika’s “flavour of the Month”. LoL

    • July 17th 2017 @ 9:07am
      MH01 said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Just watching the tahs v force game, not a single tahs outplayed his opposite number. Connor time to take of the light blue glasses mate , embarraing selections . Hannigan was very much outplayed by Coleman. And izzy was woeful. Watch the match again

      Hannigan…. I don’t get it. His dad connected to the ARU? If he makes the wallabies again, I’m at loss…

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