Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week: All Blacks duo and Wallabies hard man lead the way

David Skippers
SRP Team of the Week image 20 May 2024.jpg

Caleb Clarke of the Blues, Rob Valetini of the Brumbies and Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs.

After the 13th round of Super Rugby Pacific action, Planet Rugby breaks down the star performers from a thrilling weekend of rugby.

There’s a healthy mix of players in this week’s team with the Brumbies, Chiefs, Blues, Western Force, Fijian Drua and Hurricanes leading the way with two representatives apiece making our selection.

There were some fine individual performances with Wallaby Rob Valetini (Brumbies) and All Blacks duo Caleb Clarke (Blues) and Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) amongst those who helped their respective teams to deserved victories.

Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week, Round 13

15 Tom Wright (Brumbies): The Brumbies got the better of the Crusaders in a thrilling game in Canberra and Wright was one of the home side’s star performers. Brilliant on attack, Wright finished with 119 metres gained and scored two well-taken tries. Elsewhere, the Waratahs’ Mark Nawaqanitawase put in a superb display in his side’s loss to the Western Force in Perth and Harry Godfrey also played well for the Hurricanes in their win over Moana Pasifika.

14 Lachie Anderson (Rebels): In Melbourne, the Rebels came close to causing an upset in a tightly conteted clash with the Chiefs and Turner’s contribution played a big part in that. The 26-year-old proved dangerous with ball in hand as he crossed for a brace of tries after making 49 metres from seven runs which included two clean breaks. The Fijian Drua’s Selestino Ravutaumada also impressed.

13 Bayley Kuenzle (Western Force): The 25-year-old has been one of the Force’s best players this season and he was at the forefront of his team’s triumph over the Waratahs. Kuenzle showed his class with a fine all-round performance as he crossed for a try and eventually gained 36 metres from seven runs including a clean break and two defenders beaten. In Melbourne, Anton Lienert-Brown also had a good game for the Chiefs.

12 Julian Savea (Moana Pasifika): Although Moana suffered a defeat against the Hurricanes, it was not through Savea’s efforts as he came to the fore with a strong attacking display in Wellington. The former All Blacks flyer was a force on attack as he put his side on the front foot with some strong carries. He finished with 75 metres gained from 12 runs, beating three defenders and made a couple of offloads. The Force’s Hamish Stewart was next best.

11 Caleb Clarke (Blues): Fellow All Blacks speedster Sevu Reece continued to shine for the luckless Crusaders in their loss to the Brumbies but it wasn’t enough to keep Clarke out after led the way for the Blues in a one-sided win over the Highlanders. Clarke gained 140 metres from 14 runs which included four clean breaks, six defenders beaten, two offloads and a deserved try.

10 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs): Another fine performance from the All Blacks playmaker as he was the Chiefs’ hero in difficult circumstances in their narrow win over the Rebels in Melbourne. The All Black caught the eye with his superb game management and playmaking skills while he was also solid off the kicking tee and finished with a 16-point haul. In other action, Noah Lolesio (Brumbies) and Aidan Morgan (Hurricanes) also played well.

9 Tate McDermott (Reds): The Wallabies scrum-half returned to the Reds’ starting line-up, after returning to action via the replacements bench last week following suspension, and gave a good account of himself in the Reds’ loss to the Fijian Drua. McDermott impressed with his slick service to his outside backs and gained 64 metres with ball in hand. Meanwhile, Cortez Ratima was good for the Chiefs.

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Solid-looking pack

8 Rob Valetini (Brumbies): All Blacks duo Luke Jacobson and Akira Ioane came to the fore with solid displays for the Chiefs and Blues respectively but the Wallabies hard man pips them into our team after another fine effort in the Brumbies’ win over the Crusaders. Valetini’s physicality shone through on attack and defence as he gained 66 metres – including a crucial try – while also putting in some big tackles.

7 Peter Lakai (Hurricanes): The former New Zealand U20 star started on the replacements bench in the Hurricanes’ win over Moana Pasifika but made a big impact when he entered the fray in the second half of that game. Lakai made an immediate impact as he scored an important try shortly after coming on to the field early in the second half. He eventually finished with 27 metres gained from 10 carries and also shone on defence with seven hits made.

6 Etonia Waqa (Fijian Drua): There were several candidates for this position as Cullen Grace of the Crusaders Adrian Choat of the Blues and Brad Shields of the Hurricanes all played well but Waqa deserves his spot after a fine effort in the Drua’s win over the Reds. The 24-year-old gave his side good attacking momentum and finished with 35 metres gained from seven carries after one clean break.

5 Tupou Vaa’i (Chiefs): The All Blacks second-row delivered a superb all-round effort as he was solid in the lineouts but also did well on attack and defence. Vaa’i carried well, especially at close quarters, as he gained 19 metres from 10 runs and scored a try while finishing with nine tackle completions. Cadeyrn Neville of the Brumbies also impressed.

4 Jeremy Williams (Western Force): Although Wallaby Darcy Swain was solid for the Brumbies against the Crusaders, Williams gets the nod after he delivered a fine showing for the Force against the Waratahs. The 23-year-old did well in the lineouts and with ball in hand, gaining 19 metres from eight carries but made his biggest contribution on defence as he made a match-high 16 hits.

3 Siale Lauaki (Hurricanes): The 20-year-old came into the Hurricanes’ matchday squad and hit the ground running against Moana as he crossed for an early try in that game. Lauaki also stood up well in the scrums and put his body on the line on defence as he made eight tackles in that department. Beats out Reuben O’Neill of the Chiefs and Fletcher Newell of the Crusaders.

2 Tevita Ikanivere (Fijian Drua): There were fine performances from Kurt Ekland of the Blues and Samisoni Taukei’aho of the Chiefs but Ikanivere gets the nod after shining for the Drua in their win against the Reds in Suva. The Fiji international made a big impact as a ball carrier and was rewarded with a brace of tries while also doing well on defence with 11 tackles made.

1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Blues): The experienced All Blacks front-row showed, once again, that he is important to the Blues’ cause as he made his mark with a solid performance against the Highlanders. Tu’ungafasi was a willing ball carrier and crossed for a well-taken try but also put in a strong scrummaging display and did his bit on defence with eight tackles made.

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