We pick the standout players from the weekend rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa in New Zealand and Super Rugby AU in Australia for our latest team of the week.
See who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below…
15. Jack Maddocks (Waratahs)
Having made the positional switch to full-back from the wing in recent months, Maddocks is thriving and could well be the next answer to the Wallabies’ full-back question.
Against the Western Force on Saturday, Maddocks and the Waratahs found themselves 14-0 behind before embarking on a comeback to ultimately seal a 23-14 win.
Maddocks was a standout again as he made 17 carries and carved out 87 metres with ball in hand – both the most of any player on the pitch. He also beat two defenders and made two clean breaks.
14. Mark Telea (Blues)
You’d be hard-pressed to argue against the fact that Blues back Telea is the form wing in New Zealand rugby at the moment.
The Blues may have lost for the first time in Super Rugby Aotearoa on Saturday – 26-15 away to the Crusaders in a humdinger of a match – but Telea was again on the scoresheet.
As well as his superbly taken try, Telea was a menace with ball in hand, making 62 metres in attack, beating three defenders and making two clean breaks. He also contributed nine tackles.
13. Billy Meakes (Rebels)
Former Gloucester centre Meakes takes one of our centre spots this week, having been everywhere for the Rebels in their 18-18 draw with the Reds on Friday – the first-ever rugby game to feature Super Time.
The midfielder carried ball on 12 occasions, made 66 metres in attack, two clean breaks, eight tackles and beat two defenders.
He also scored a clever intercept try which looked likely to win the game for the Rebels, before they conceded in the final minute.
12. Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes)
Canes inside-centre Laumape has been in outstanding form in recent weeks, and is rapidly returning to his form of 2017 when he forced his way into the All Blacks starting XV in the middle of a British & Irish Lions tour.
In the Hurricanes’ 17-11 victory over the Highlanders on Sunday, Laumape was a one-man wrecking ball, and to devastating consequences for the opposition as he carried an extraordinary 20 times for some 88 metres – both statistics the most of any player on the pitch.
He also beat an incredible nine defenders while attacking and generated three clean breaks.
11. Marika Koroibete (Rebels)
Australia wing Koroibete is a wonderfully exciting back to watch, as he looks to run at virtually every opportunity.
In the Rebels draw with the Reds, he played as such and was a constant thorn in the side of the Reds and a danger.
He made 46 metres off eight carries, beat two defenders and made a clean break, while he also threw a superb left-hand pass to create a try for Reece Hodge.
10. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
Crusaders vs the Blues on Saturday was the headline clash of the weekend, as the two in-form Kiwi sides faced off in the biggest rivalry in New Zealand.
What transpired was a sensational game of rugby, and in many ways, Crusaders out-half Richie Mo’unga proved the difference, sparking the comeback which kept his side’s four-year unbeaten home record intact.
Mo’unga was 100 per cent off the tee, kicking six from six, while he also carried 12 times – no one from either side made more – and made 62 metres in attack.
His quick-thinking restart after Rieko Ioane’s Blues try had put the visitors 15-9 ahead – dribbling the ball along the ground before giving chase himself and recovering it just after the 10-metre line (the necessary distance of travel for the restart to be legal) – played the Crusaders right back into things.
They duly went on to score through Mitchell Drummond within minutes after Mo’unga produced a double-pump pass out to George Bridge to create the space, gaining a 16-15 lead from which they did not look back. The 10 would land a try assist for their final score of the night too through Will Jordan.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
Hurricanes captain Perenara is performing to a standard very few others in New Zealand are at the minute, and once again he was central to victory over the weekend.
The scrum-half outplayed compatriot and All Blacks rival Aaron Smith, as he dummied to sprint over for the opening try, made some 14 carries, beat two defenders and made two clean breaks.
He is also, quite clearly, now a monumental leader for the Canes.
1. Ayden Johnstone (Highlanders)
The Highlanders may have lost to the Hurricanes on Sunday, but loosehead prop Johnstone put in an eye-catching display.
The prop made an enormous 15 tackles, while he was also part of a scrummaging unit which forced three scrum penalties.
2. Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes)
One of the most impressive performers of the weekend from any side, Hurricanes hooker Aumua was exceptional.
He made 11 carries, off which he earned a superb 63 metres with ball in hand, beat three defenders and made a clean break.
He was also 100 per cent at lineout, landing all seven of his throws, while he made some absolutely crunching hits in defence. See below!
3. Pone Fa’amausili (Rebels)
Of all the games in Super Rugby AU so far, perhaps no-one has stood out more than Rebels tighthead prop Fa’amausili.
He may be raw, but he has the potential to be something special and one of the leading carriers in the sport. The prop has supreme power and physicality, thriving off contact.
Fa’amausili made nine carries for 48 metres, one clean break, seven tackles and beat one defender. Anyone watching Friday’s Rebels vs Reds contest could not help but have taken notice of the big man. Expect to see him in the gold of Australia before long.
4. Matt Philip (Rebels)
Our first second row is another Rebel in Philip, who could not have worked harder in his side’s draw with the Reds on Friday.
The lock made a remarkable 16 tackles, while also showing up for seven carries to beat two defenders, and claiming two lineout balls.
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Reds)
One of the performers of the weekend without question was Reds lock Salakaia-Loto.
Still just 23, the forward made 16 carries and 11 tackles from the second row, beat three defenders with ball in hand, made one clean break and claimed five lineout balls.
He may have featured at blindside flanker in his Test career for Australia to date, but with the wealth of locks having left Australian rugby in recent times – Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Blake Enever, Will Skelton etc – he could yet be deployed in the second row on the international scene before long.
6. Akira Ioane (Blues)
While Hoskins Sotutu has been grabbing all the headlines from a Blues and New Zealand perspective at No 8, the man who had to shift positions in order to accommodate him, Ioane, has steadily been improving week-on-week.
The move from No 8 to blindside flanker has not hampered Ioane, in actual fact he is performing to just as good a level as before, if not better.
The back-row made 14 tackles – no one made more – seven carries, one clean break and beat four defenders with ball in hand. An extremely clever and skilful player.
7. Michael Hooper (Waratahs)
He may not have stood out for a while in Waratahs colours, but on Saturday Hooper again proved why he is regarded as one of the premier flankers in the world game.
The openside thrived in near enough all aspects against the Western Force, making 15 tackles – no one made more – 14 carries, 58 metres in attack, two turnovers, beat three defenders and claimed a lineout.
Still one of the Wallabies’ very best.
8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u (Highlanders)
Tu’u may not be a name many in the northern hemisphere or even outside of New Zealand have heard of, but this 23-year-old could soon be a character most rugby fans will come to recognise.
The Highlanders No 8 was superb in defeat on Sunday, making 12 tackles, 13 carries and 46 metres in attack.
A very powerful and talented young man.