THREE Australians have been picked in Fox Sports Lab’s Super Rugby team of the week — with the Rebels’ Japanese import No 8 also making the cut.
The Waratahs and the Force had the bye in round eight.
1: Pauliasi Manu (Blues)
The Tongan-born loose-head must be forcing his way into the discussions of the All Blacks selectors after another impressive display in the loss to the Hurricanes.
Manu made 27 metres from seven carries to go with 11 tackles and a forced scrum penalty.
The 29-year-old makes for a great trivia question.
Manu is yet to play a Test yet has a Rugby World Cup winner’s medal after being called into the All Blacks squad as an injury replacement for Wyatt Crockett.
2: Malcolm Marx (Lions)
A former South Africa age-group star, Marx will surely add to his two Test appearances in 2017.
The dynamic hooker became the first South African to score tries in six consecutive Super Rugby games when he dotted down against the Stormers.
Wallabies and Reds great Chris Latham holds the overall record with seven in a row.
Marx also made 56 run metres, two tackle busts, seven tackles and nailed all 12 of his lineout throws at the weekend.
3: Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
The two-Test Springbok strongman helped the Bulls to a badly-needed win against the Pumas-laden Jaguares pack at the weekend.
Nyakane made 23 run metres and nine tackles while also forcing three penalties at the breakdown and three in scrums.
4: Mark Abbott (Hurricanes)
One of the Hurricanes’ unsung heroes got some deserved headlines for his matchwinning turn against the Blues.
Abbott — signed to play in Japan next season — scored two tries as the icing on a performance involving 17 carries for 71 metres, two linebreaks and 13 tackles.
Abbott’s responsibility will increase further given hardman Michael Fatialofa suffered what is feared to be a serious knee injury at the weekend.
5: Guido Petti (Jaguares)
It was a surprise to learn that the 24-Test Pumas lock is only 22-years-old and he put in an eye-catching shift on the high veldt.
Petti — undersized at just 1.94m — made 44 metres from 10 carries to go with six tackle busts, six tackles and six lineout wins, including one steal.
6: Jerome Kaino (Blues)
The All Blacks great is rounding into form nicely as the Lions series looms up on the horizon.
Kaino, 34, churned through his duties at Eden Park: 12 carries, 86 metres, 12 tackles and two lineout wins.
Highlanders Liam Squire and Elliot Dixon will have to continue waiting in line.
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7: George Smith (Reds)
While on ageless warriors, let’s talk Smith, who produced a pearler in his 150th Super Rugby game against the Kings.
The fearless flanker scored a popular try in addition to eight carries, 36 run metres, 15 tackles and two turnovers.
No wonder Reds forwards coach Brad Thorn is egging him on to play another season.
8: Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)
What a shame this bloke isn’t eligible for the Wallabies!
The Tonga-born Japan Test star continued his eye-catching debut season in Super Rugby, producing 15 carries, 97 run metres, four tackle busts and 12 tackles.
He’ll need to keep up the good work as Lopeti Timani serves his four week suspension.
9: Ross Cronje (Lions)
As Faf de Klerk’s stocks drop, Cronje’s rise at the Lions’ scrumbase.
The 27-year-old was humming in the vital win over the Stormers, with three linebreak assists, three try assists and eight tackles.
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10: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
Could the reigning world player of the year be getting even better?
Barrett was incredible against the Blues, showcasing his searing pace and unmatched instincts to score a try and make eight tackle busts and 183 metres in his nine carries.
Barrett also produced a memorable try assist for the in-form Ngani Laumape.
11: Makazole Mapimpi (Kings)
They’re not winning many games, but the Kings are playing some entertaining footy in what is expected to be the club’s final season.
Mapimpi scorched the Reds for two tries and 171 metres in his 10 carries, with six tackle busts and three linebreaks thrown in for good measure.
12: Berton Klaasen (Kings)
Another of the Port Elizabeth backline division to impress in Brisbane.
The 27-year-old made 13 carries for 119 metres, five tackle busts and two linebreaks — while also created two linebreaks for others.
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13: Sam McNicol (Chiefs)
Injury has stalled the 21-year-old’s Super Rugby career to date but when Anton Lienert-Brown went down, McNicol stepped up with a fine all-round game in Bloemfontein.
Better known as a fullback/winger, McNicol shone at centre by running for 118 metres in his nine carries, including five tackle busts, three linebreaks, three linebreak assists while also making 10 tackles.
14: Henry Speight (Brumbies)
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has some handy wing options running around at the moment, with Speight continuing his good form at AAMI Park.
The flying Fijian ran in two tries and chalked up 100 metres from his six carries, also notching five tackle busts and three linebreaks.
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15: Karmichael Hunt (Reds)
Hunt is yet to make his Wallabies debut but Cheika is an admirer and it will be fascinating to see where he figures in his Test plans for 2017, given Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty are going nowhere.
The three-code star scored two tries and ran 142 metres in his nine carries, also contributing four tackle busts, three linebreaks and a try assist.
• Ben Funnell (Crusaders) — one try, 10 carries, 30 run metres, two tackle busts, 100 per cent lineout success (8/8).
• Rodrigo Baez (Jaguares) — nine carries, 83 run metres, eight tackles, three lineout wins.
• Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (Blues) — nine carries, 61 run metres, two tackle busts, six lineout wins, one pilfer.
• Kieran Read (Crusaders) — one try, 12 carries, 76 run metres, seven tackle busts, four lineout wins.
• Scott Higginbotham (Reds) — 15 carries, 96 run metres, three tackle busts, three offloads, three lineout wins (one steal).
• Manasa Mataele (Crusaders) — three tries, nine carries, 75 run metres, four tackle busts, three linebreaks.
• Jesse Kriel (Bulls) — five carries, 127 run metres, six tackle busts, three linebreaks, one linebreak created.
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Super Rugby: Highlights.
Originally published as Three Aussies in Super Rugby team of the week
SOURCE: newsnow sport