Super Rugby Pacific 2023 Team of the Week: Looking at the best Australian performers from Round One

Mon, Feb 27, 2023, 1:13 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

The 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is finally underway, with plenty of players making a statement as the build to September's World Cup begins.

The ACT Brumbies re-established themselves as the premier team in Australia with a hard-fought win over the NSW Waratahs.

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Meanwhile, the Western Force were too strong for the Melbourne Rebels at home whilst the Reds were blown over in Townsville by the Hurricanes

With this in mind, has selected the best from the Australian sides for round one.

1.Blake Schuopp (ACT Brumbies)

A dominant showing of scrummaging from the debutant.

He easily got the best of Archer Holz and laid the platform for the Brumbies to control the opening half.

Schuopp and Wallabies captain James Slipper, who was also excellent, will form a dangerous one-two combo in 2023 whilst Matt Gibbon and Tom Robertson were solid for their respective teams

2. Tom Horton (Western Force)

In a weekend of hookers stepping up at the last minute, Horton just edges out John Ulugia in this side.

Horton provided plenty of energy off the bench when Feleti Kaitu'u went down with an injury, helping flip momentum with a pair of tries.

He also nailed all ten lineouts and was reliable as ever in defence.

3. Allan Alaalatoa (ACT Brumbies)

Alaalatoa is a rock for the Brumbies, time and time again delivering world-class performances.

Outside of the miss on Jorgensen, he was immense defensively, leading the Brumbies for tackles (13) whilst taking a number of tough carries.

4. Nick Frost (ACT Brumbies)

Like Alaalatoa, Frost is a workhorse who was everywhere against the Waratahs.

He produced double-digit tackles (11) and carries (13) along with providing a solid anchor for the ever-powerful Brumbies scrum.

Frost just beats out Josh Canham, one of the better performers for the Rebels in their defeat

5. Cadeyrn Neville (ACT Brumbies)

Neville rounds out a Brumbies-dominant tight five that consistently won the collision battle against the Waratahs.

He is one of the most underrated players in Super Rugby and continues to deliver solid performances for Stephen Larkham's side.

Don't discount his effort in the Brumbies' scrum dominance, providing the anchor that allowed them to get on top of the hosts early on

6. Tim Anstee (Western Force)

Anstee was the man of the match for the Force in the comeback victory over the Melbourne Rebels.

The former Sevens star took over in the second half, showing the form that had him on the verge of Wallaby selection with a number of vital carries.

Anstee’s 77th-minute turnover ended up securing the game for the Force, holding off the likes of Rob Valetini and Will Harris/Langi Gleeson off the bench.

7. Fraser McReight (Queensland Reds)

A solid week for the sevens across the country but the Reds flanker just outperformed Brad Wilkin and Michael Hooper.

McReight was everywhere for the Reds and showed the type of effort that will please coach Eddie Jones, leading the way with 15 tackles.

He also produced a crucial turnover to stop a Hurricanes break when the game was still in the balance and continues to look like a threat in attack

8. Richard Hardwick (Melbourne Rebels)

Hardwick was the standout for the Rebels and deserved to come away with more than a tight loss.

The Namibian international controlled the breakdown in the first half, securing a number of crucial turnovers.

For this, he earns selection over Harry Wilson, once again a solid showing for the Reds' backrower

9. Ryan Lonergan (ACT Brumbies)

Lonergan continues to do his Wallabies ambitions no harm and looms as a major bolter.

His support work for the first try was elite whilst his excellent game awareness was on full display when he was the only person who picked out Andy Muirhead in ample space before the half, even Muirhead had no idea what was coming.

Lonergan also has a very under-rated boot, near perfect off the tee as he contributed 16 points to the win

10. Bryce Hegarty (Western Force)

In his first game back, Hegarty provided the control the Force needed to execute their second-half comeback.

He helped guide the Force around the park and his partnership with Hamish Stewart was crucial in unlocking the Rebels' defence.

Tom Lynagh delivered a solid debutant performance whilst Jack Debreczeni delivered a perfect reminder of his talent

11. Max Jorgensen (NSW Waratahs)

The perfect way to announce himself on the Super Rugby stage.

Jorgensen shrugged off two Wallabies on the way to his first try on debut in Super Rugby Pacific, showing his great positioning for his second.

He looks damaging with ball in hand and showed glimpses of the kicking game that makes him the Waratahs' fullback of the future.

12. Lalakai Foketi (NSW Waratahs)

Foketi was the key link in the Waratahs' attack as they mounted a second-half comeback.

The Wallaby threw the perfect looping ball for Jorgensen's second whilst shrugging off a couple of defenders to put Jake Gordon over in the corner.

Hamish Stewart also was immense for the Force, showing why he has been preferred at the position over flyhalf in the past.

13. Len Ikitau (ACT Brumbies)

Ikitau is Mr Consistent and continues to show why he is one of the world's best outside centres.

He shut down Izaia Perese in defence whilst looking damaging with every touch, putting Corey Toole into space for his tip-toe effort in the second half.

14. Corey Toole (ACT Brumbies)

Toole transferred his Sevens skills to the 15-a-side game with ease.

His pace down the left touchline finished one try and even better was his high-wire effort for what was a disallowed try when the TMO found a singular spike had grazed the touchline. 

Toole's acceleration is a major point of difference and it would not surprise him to see if included in Eddie Jones' first training squad if he continues this form

15. Tom Wright (ACT Brumbies)

Wright has a fair claim to being the standout player from the Australian teams in round one, putting himself one step closer to the Wallabies jersey.

He set the tempo with a nice break to set up Ryan Lonergan's try whilst he made fellow Wallabies teammate Lalakai Foketi miss to put Corey Toole over.

Wright finished the game with 11 carries for 94 metres, three tackle busts and two line breaks.