Last week, following the announcement of the Wallabies squad for their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa, we asked you to pick your preferred XV to face the Springboks. The result was a strong team with a couple of surprising picks.
With over 1500 responses, plenty of you had your say in the make-up of the preferred team, and while some of the positions were closely run races, there were clear consensus picks in others.
One area where that was the case was in the tight five, where the Brumbies dominated the voting. Allan Alaalatoa (83%) and Scott Sio (66%) were the preferred props, joined in the front row by Folau Fainga’a (86%).
Their fellow Brumby, Rory Arnold (94%), received more votes than anyone else – hardly a surprise given his outstanding Super Rugby season – and Izack Rodda (84%) was comfortably voted in as his partner in the second row.
The rest of the forward pack was slightly less straightforward. With 84 per cent of the vote, Rebels number 8 Isi Naisarani was picked more than any other back rower, even though he’s still yet to make his Wallabies debut.
It was no surprise to see captain Michael Hooper (81%) get plenty of votes too, but the last spot in the back row was a tight race. In the end it was versatile Melbourne forward Luke Jones who got the nod with 34 per cent, beating out Jack Dempsey, Rob Valetini and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, all of whom were picked in about 27 per cent of teams.
The backline, too, had a nice mix of obvious candidates and neck-and-neck polls. The 9 and 10 were both consensus picks, Will Genia (60%) and Christian Lealiifano (70%) comfortably beating out the other options at halfback and flyhalf respectively.
The centres were even less competitive, where Samu Kerevi (86%) and Tevita Kuridrani (81%) were hardly touched in the race for the 12 and 13 jerseys.
The back three spots were far less certain. Marika Koroibete was by far and away the most preferred winger after being picked in 1044 teams (or 68%) but less than 100 votes split his potential partners. Ultimately, Koroibete’s club teammate, Jack Maddocks (36%), managed to pip Tom Banks (34%) and Reece Hodge (31%).
Fullback was an even tighter race, with three players splitting most of the votes. Banks ended up as the winner with 42 per cent, ahead of Kurtley Beale (27%) and Dane Haylett-Petty (21%).
For the bench, we’ve gone for a 5-3 forwards backs split, taking the players with the next-most votes. That means veterans James Slipper (22%) and Sekope Kepu (14%) and the back-up props and youngster Jordan Uelese (10%) is the reserve hooker.
Rob Simmons (13%) was comfortably the third lock option behind Rodda and Arnold, and Jack Dempsey (27%) grabs the last forwards spot on the bench after pipping Rob Valetini by just three votes.
Nic White (26%), who hasn’t played a Test since 2015, had twice as many votes as Joe Powell to be Genia’s deputy, and the rest of the back cover will be provided by Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty. They were picked in a total of 728 and 727 teams respectively, enough to beat out Kurtley Beale (469 total votes) for the last two bench spots.
1. Scott Sio
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Rory Arnold
5. Izack Rodda
6. Luke Jones
7. Michael Hooper
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Will Genia
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Samu Kerevi
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Jack Maddocks
15. Tom Banks
16. Jordan Uelese
17. James Slipper
18. Sekope Kepu
19. Rob Simmons
20. Jack Dempsey
21. Nic White
22. Reece Hodge
23. Dane Haylett-Petty