It was a tough weekend for the Aussie franchises but we’ve sifted through the weekend to find our Australian conference standouts.
1. Pek Cowan
Cowan played a crucial role in the latter stages of their win against the Reds, as the Force scrum took control. Don’t think we’ll see him on the bench this weekend against the Brumbies.
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2. Tolu Latu
Latu has gotten off to a flyer in 2017, with another influential match in Johannesburg. While the Waratahs’ lineout had its battles, Latu did what he could to keep that intact. His work in the breakdown, though, was the real standout with another three turnovers against the Lions.
3. Tetera Faulkner
Similarly to Cowan, came on and helped the Force settle its scrum, a development that ultimately propelled them to their first 2017 win. Scrum strength will be critical against the Brumbies and Thursday’s showing was a big tick.
4. Lopeti Timani
Timani and Amanaki Mafi were the only glimmering lights of hope in a Wellington storm on Saturday. Timani is still playing in the second row with the Rebels low on lock stocks due to injuries, though number eight is his preferred position. No matter where he plays, though, his work ethic shines though and it was that way against the Hurricanes.
5. Sam Carter
Carter has embraced his newfound leadership role at the Brumbies, setting the standard with their efforts. He took a knock to his ribs on Saturday night that restricted his movement late in the piece but still finished with 22 tackles. Defence has become the Brumbies’ calling card in the opening two rounds and Carter is setting the tone.
6. Scott Fardy
He’s leaving for Ireland at the end of the season but Fardy is clearly focused on the task at hand in Canberra. Fardy has had two strong games to start the season and won two turnovers against the Sharks.
7. George Smith
There weren’t many positives for Queensland last Thursday night but Smith provided at least a shred of consistency. Though he didn’t nab a turnover stat, nine tackles was the most of any Queensland player against the Force and Smith worked tirelessly around the field.
8. Amanaki Mafi
Mafi and Timani were basically the only reason the Rebels aren’t facing an even more embarrassing score line from Saturday. The Japanese international has worked in tandem with Timani in the breakdown and their defensive efforts have been incredible. Mafi’s attacking impact, though, was a standout as well on a day where few Rebels found space. Mafi finished with 86 run metres, 31 more than his closest teammate, fullback Jack Debreczeni.
9. Joe Powell
Powell was given a challenge when Tomas Cubelli injured his knee and he has answered it admirably. Powell was an attacking force for the Brumbies on Saturday night and set up their chains well. The chance to start regularly is doing him wonders.
10. Wharenui Hawera
He’s not the finished product but Hawera took a huge step forward on Saturday night. His in-field kicking was more accurate than round one and he steered the team around the park. Really starting to find his feet at 10.
11. Chance Peni
They call him the money man and Peni is showing he’s worth banking on. He ran for 105 metres against the Reds and added some exciting X-Factor to the WA side. Scored a try within a minute in one of the few Australian highlights of the weekend.
12. Bill Meakes
Meakes is making the most of his Super Rugby chance at the Force. He brings some bite to their defensive structures and has been a handy addition for them in an area in which they haven’t been able to string consistent combinations together in the past.
13. Samu Kerevi
The sign of a long-term Test player is one that can play consistently even when his team is battling. Kerevi looks to have added that this season, once again one of Queensland’s best in Perth.
14. Eto Nabuli
Nabuli scored just the second hat-trick in Reds history last Thursday and though it wasn’t enough for a win, it did give Queensland fans some confidence. Just last year Nabuli looked like he’d lost his way after making the switch from NRL. Looks like he’s found his GPS.
15. Andrew Kellaway
A game with no defence tends to lend itself to fullbacks and it was that way in Johannesburg. Kellaway set up two tries and ran for 107 metres in a 55-36 loss to the Lions. This kid has been one with potential for a while and now he’s showing he might just be able to live up to the hype. Dane Haylett-Petty was also immense and missed out on this spot by the bee’s proverbial.