Following five rounds of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific, Planet Rugby takes a closer look at the players who are key to the exciting rugby on show and who leads the rest in the respective individual statistics category.
Chiefs star Shaun Stevenson maintains his spot at the summit of the try-scoring charts with seven despite not crossing in round five.
The prolific outside back is still well-positioned to challenge for the lofty record of 15 tries in a single season held by Ngani Laumape, Joe Roff and Rico Gear.
Runners-up: There was movement below, however, as Leicester Fainga’anuku scored a double for the Crusaders, taking his tally in the last two games to five tries and a total of six overall. The Reds duo of Josh Flook and Jordie Petaia are also on six tries with Stevenson in their sights.
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Despite being rested this week and training with rugby league side Melbourne Storm, Jordie Barrett remains the leading points-scorer in Super Rugby Pacific with 47 after the opening five rounds.
Runners-up: Given the leader made no progress, the top of the leaderboard is congested with six players within four points of the Hurricane. Richie Mo’unga climbed to second, only one short of Barrett and alongside the Highlander Sam Gilbert. Brumby Ryan Lonergan is just behind on 44 but pips Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie and Bryce Hegarty by one.
Crusaders workhorse Tom Christie holds his title for another week after putting in a monstrous shift yet again with 16 tackles against the Brumbies.
That effort means that the loose forward has made a simply ridiculous 38 tackles in his last two games and he leads the way with 83 tackles made for the season. A truly deserved leader of the pack in the tackle sector.
Runners-up: Rebels star Brad Wilkin continues to put in shift after shift with a total of 74 tackles to his name, ahead of Ollie Callan of the Western Force and Fraser McReight of the Reds on 67 and 66, respectively.
The seesaw between the top two carries continues after round five as Reds star Harry Wilson snatches his lead back from Hoskins Sotutu.
Wilson notched up a game-high 20 carries in round five as his team lost to the Rebels. Nevertheless, there is a clear trust in his role, and the number eight continues to put his head down and carry for his side taking his total to 75.
Runners-up: Last week’s leader, Sotutu, sits behind Wilson on 69 carries but still within touching distance. There is a fair gap until the next player, Rebel Monty Ioane, on 54 carries.
Most defenders beaten
For the first time this season, Timoci Tavatavanawai is eclipsed as the leader of the most defenders beaten as the elusive Mark Telea shoots to the top with a total of 31 players beaten.
The All Black beat eight defenders in round five to surprise the Moana Pasifika star, who did not feature. It only seems a matter of time before Telea took the lead with the penetrating form he is in.
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Runners-up: Tavtavanawai is closely followed by team-mate Levi Aumua on 27 and 26, with Filipo Daugunu and Kalaveti Ravouvou on 22.
Telea’s free running against Force in round five paid dividends as the wing ran a whopping 137 metres with ball in hand to take him to the summit of another category.
The performance sees the Blue surpass his team-mate Sotutu as the leader of most running metres made with a sensational 583 metres.
Runners-up: Sotutu is not terribly far behind Telea with 549 metres. However, the duo sit a reasonable distance ahead of Monty Ioane, who is in third on 488 metres.
Most line-outs won
Once again, the king of line-out changes hands between team-mates as Brumbies veteran Cadeyrn Neville nicks the lead off of Nick Frost.
Neville has taken a total of 26 line-outs this season compared to Frost’s 25.
Runners-up: Interestingly, all the players in the top five are from Australian teams, with Isaia Walker-Leaware of the Hurricanes being the only player in the top 10 from a New Zealand outfit.