Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week: Chiefs lead the way after returning to victory trail

David Skippers
SRP Round 13 TOTW image 2023.jpg

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

The Chiefs are sitting pretty at the top of the table and they lead the way with four players in our team after their victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs are next best with three representatives after they beat the Fijian Drua.

Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week

15 Chase Tiatia (Western Force): There were good performances from Zarn Sullivan, Josh Moorby and Will Jordan for the Blues, Hurricanes and Crusaders respectively, but Tiatia gets in after a fine contribution in the Force’s win over the Brumbies in Perth. Tiatia gave his side good momentum from the back and eventually gained 88 metres from 13 runs, which included one clean break and an offload.

14 Mark Telea (Blues): Waratahs flyer Mark Nawaqanitwase caught the eye with a brace of tries in his side’s win over the Fijian Drua but Telea could not be left out after an outstanding attacking performance in the Blues’ triumph against the Reds. The All Black gained a round-high 156 attacking metres from 15 runs with two clean breaks, 10 defenders beaten and an offload while he also picked up a try.

13 Alex Nankivell (Chiefs): Made a rare start for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes and was one of the table-toppers’ best performers in a hard-fought victory. Nankivell was dangerous on attack as he gained 71 metres from 11 runs which included one clean break, five defenders beaten and a couple of offloads. Also did well on defence with nine tackles made and beats out the Crusaders’ Jack Goodhue and Sam Spink of the Western Force.

12 Hamish Stewart (Western Force): The 25-year-old has cemented his spot in the Force’s run-on side since joining them from the Reds at the end of last season and put in a fine performance against the Brumbies. Stewart scored a try for his team, was lively with ball in hand throughout that game and eventually gained 41 metres from 11 runs and beat two defenders. He comes in ahead of Dallas McLeod of the Crusaders and Joey Walton of the Waratahs.

11 Jonah Nareki (Highlanders): Although he did not cross the whitewash, Nareki was a constant threat on attack as he tested the Melbourne Rebels’ defence throughout in the Highlanders’ win in Dunedin. The 25-year-old eventually finished with 76 metres from 12 runs which included one clean break, five defenders beaten and three offloads. The Blues’ AJ Lam and Manasa Mataele (Force) also shone for their teams.

10 Beauden Barrett (Blues): A tough decision as there were fine performances from All Blacks rival Damian McKenzie and Ben Donaldson for the Chiefs and Waratahs elsewhere, but Barrett gets the nod after a strong display for the Blues in Brisbane. Barrett made his mark with a superb attacking display as he gained 62 metres from eight runs and beat one defender. Also finished with a 12-point haul courtesy of a try, two conversions and a penalty.

9 Noah Hotham (Crusaders): The young scrum-half came into the defending champions’ run-on side against Moana Pasifika in Auckland and hit the ground running. The 19-year-old caught the eye with his crisp service to his outside backs and also proved a threat with ball in hand. Finished with 59 metres gained from six runs, which included one clean break, two defenders beaten as well as an offload.

8 Langi Gleeson (Waratahs): The young Wallaby’s stocks continue to rise after he came to the fore with a fine all-round display in the Waratahs’ triumph against the Fijian Drua. He was excellent on attack as he finished with 47 metres gained from 10 carries with two defenders beaten, but also did well on defence with 20 tackles made. The Force’s Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco and Brayden Iose of the Hurricanes were next best.

7 Michael Hooper (Waratahs): The veteran tearaway continues to maintain his high standards as he combined brilliantly with Gleeson in their win against the Drua. As usual, the 31-year-old was in the thick of the action with his breakdown work of its usual high standard but he made his biggest impact on defence where he made a whopping 25 hits. Highlanders skipper Billy Harmon and Carlo Tizzano of the Force also impressed.

6 Pita Gus Sowakula (Chiefs): The All Blacks back-row was one of the Chiefs’ star performers as they returned to winning ways in Wellington against the Hurricanes. Sowakula was his side’s go-to guy with ball in hand up front as he made 18 carries and finished with 63 metres gained which included four defenders beaten and one offload. He comes in ahead of Sean Withy of the Highlanders and the Rebels’ Vaiolini Ekuasi.

5 Tupou Vaa’i (Chiefs): Another All Black forward from the Chiefs in our team, Vaa’i stood out with a superb all-round performance against the Hurricanes. Was lively on attack as he was a willing ball carrier, especially at close quarters and finished the match with two well-taken tries. He also did what was expected of him in the lineouts and put in a shift on defence with eight tackles made. Zach Gallagher of the Crusaders also played well.

4 Scott Barrett (Crusaders): The Crusaders skipper was at the forefront of his team’s forward effort against Moana Pasifika and showed a nice turn of speed while scoring one of his side’s six tries. Apart from that, Barrett also made 32 metres from 13 carries, which included one clean break, a defender beaten and an offload. Elsewhere, Patrick Tuipulotu also impressed for the Blues.

3 Harry Johnson-Holmes (Waratahs): One of the players who has shown considerable improvement in recent weeks and his impressive form has also played a part in the Waratahs’ revival. Johnson-Holmes shone in the execution of his core duties against the Drua as he stood up well in the scrums and especially on defence where he led the way with a round-high 28 hits.

2 Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs): The Chiefs forwards laid a solid platform for their backs against the Hurricanes and Taukei’aho was at the forefront of that onslaught. The burly hooker took the fight to his opponents and was rewarded with the game’s first try and continued to test the Hurricanes’ defence with some powerful carries. He was also prominent on defence, where he completed 16 tackles and is preferred to Folau Fainga’a of the Force and the Crusaders’ Brodie McAlister.

1 Ethan de Groot (Highlanders): Showed why he is the current first choice loosehead prop for the All Blacks with a solid performance for the Highlanders against the Rebels. Put in a powerful scrummaging display but also made his mark on as a ball carrier where he took the ball into contact on 10 occasions. In other action, Aidan Ross of the Chiefs and Marcel Renata of the Blues also caught the eye.

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