Still looking for our Team of the Week? Well you won’t find it here. Instead, let’s look at some of the top performers (and otherwise) from the latest round of Super Rugby and see how we’re shaping up for the Wallaby season.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND:
Joe Tomane (Brumbies)
With Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper the incumbent Wallaby wingers and uncertainty, amongst the punters at least, as to their availability for test selection this year, Tomane’s continued exceptional form is a cause of excitement for Wallaby fans. Whilst there remains rumours as to whether Joe will really depart our shores later this year, we can at least sit back and enjoy his career best form at the moment.
Tomane was at his dangerous best on Saturday night in Sydney and scored a well-deserved, and record-setting, hat trick of tries. The Waratah defence was continually challenged by big Joe’s elusiveness as he ran for 113 metres from his nine carries making five clean breaks as he went.
WALLABY JERSEY SAFE:
Bernard Foley (Waratahs)
Whilst the Waratah unit is still not quite clicking, it remains pretty easy to see the structure Foley brings to the team. Foley had a delayed start to the season following an injury suffered during his off-season Japanese sojourn, however his composure and class is apparent in the sky blue ten. Against the Brumbies, whilst the visitors always seemed to comfortably control the game, Foley was able to play the general for the Tahs and assisted in their mid-game resurgence.
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
The return of Foley at flyhalf, enables Beale to cut loose a little more at inside centre. Gilbert was probably his team’s best player and proved a constant threat to the Brumbies line. His effectiveness in attack (71 metres, five defenders beaten and two clean breaks) was more impressive when you consider how closely he was marked by opposite number Matt Toomua.
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Fardy is such a consistent and unheralded performer that it’s hard to imagine him ‘stepping up’. But that’s what he did against the Waratahs as is team entered the match without two-thirds of their regular backrow in David Pocock and Ita Vaea. Fardy put in a massive 80 minute effort in topping his team’s tackle count and being a strong presence at the breakdown throughout.
WALLABY JERSEY BOLTER:
Liam Gill (Reds)
Whilst the Reds went down to the Bulls, Gill maintained his season-long exceptional form with another busy showing in Pretoria. Gill again tirelessly led his team around the park, tackling everything that moved and putting continual pressure on the Bulls’ ball at the breakdown. In another all-round performance of the highest order, it’s worth noting that I finished my review of Gill’s performance last week with words to the effect of ‘he can do anything, except kick’…
Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels)
He’s not quite eligible for the Wallabies yet, but Naivalu’s form since his return from long term injury surely has Cheika rubbing his hands together in anticipation. Brought into the starting side late, and starting at outside centre, Super-Sefa was his team’s most dangerous player in attack and topped the tackle count as well. Injuries to the Rebels means Naivalu’s return to the team is perfectly timed and if he can continue to produce performances as he did on the weekend, then the northern hemisphere teams should watch out come November.
Paddy Ryan (Waratahs)
Paddy’s copped some flack for being the man who turned over the ball late in the game on Saturday night. It seems harsh for a man who came off the bench for Benn Robinson in the tenth minute and toiled tirelessly for the rest of the game. With Wallaby prop depth being tested, Ryan was a part of a much improved Tah scrum but also made his presence felt across the paddock. His impressive work at the break down has been evidenced by the statistical work ForceFan has done, and his combination with the rookie Tom Robertson gives NSW fans some hope for their pack moving forward.
WALLABY JERSEY WOBBLY:
Wycliff Palu (Waratahs)
I’m not sure if anyone still expected Palu to come into Wallaby consideration this year, but as a World Cup squad member last year, he’s a relevant inclusion here. Poor Cliffy looked a shadow of his former self, despite looking reasonably fit, and his game was typified by his dangerous clear out that was equal parts ineffectual as it was poorly timed and damaging for his team.
Will Skelton (Waratahs)
Big Willie forced his way back into the starting lineup but was unable to make it is own in what was largely an anonymous showing against the Brumbies. He made a few runs but was easily marked by an eager Brumbies defensive unit and once you remove his running game, then there is not much else left. Even his excellent work in the maul seems to have gone missing of late. Let’s hope he can find his mojo back soon as he’s undeniably an exciting player.
Tomas Cubelli (Brumbies)
Hendrick Tui worked hard again for the Reds, whilst Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson had their moments for the Rebels, but it was the Brumbies scrumhalf who probably had the biggest impact on his team’s performance this weekend. Cubelli was like a wasp at a BBQ with his constant presence and proved a handful around the ruck for the Waratah pack.