Australia’s professional Rugby players have spoken, choosing two uncapped forwards and representatives from all four states as they picked their Super Rugby Players’ Choice Team of the Year for the first time ever.
Brumbies Number 8 Isi Naisarani and Melbourne Rebels flanker Angus Cottrell have been selected ahead of rivals in the same position with Test match experience, while young guns Folau Fainga’a, Jack Maddocks and Taniela Tupou have also been chosen ahead of more experienced contenders.
Experienced Waratahs quintet Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Rob Simmons all played key roles in their team’s run to the Super Rugby Semi Finals, with Naiyaravoro scoring more tries than any other Australian player in 2018, while the hugely experienced Will Genia, David Pocock and Scott Sio all gained selection despite injury-interrupted seasons, their form elevating them to the peak.
Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani and lock Rory Arnold round out the team, which scored a combined 523 points in Super Rugby and has an average age of 26.
RUPA President Damien Fitzpatrick congratulated all players on their selection.
“To the fifteen players chosen in the Volvo Players’ Choice Super Rugby Team of the Year, you have been selected by your peers based on your outstanding performances throughout this Super Rugby season. You should be exceptionally proud,” Fitzpatrick said.
“There is no greater accolade than earning the respect and admiration of your teammates and opponents, and on behalf of all of Australia’s players we congratulate you.
“I think it’s a wonderful initiative, undertaken by RUPA and Volvo, to present Australia’s players with the opportunity to select this team. I hope it grows and gathers momentum in the years to come, as it potentially has the opportunity to become one of the most celebrated individual achievements in the game.”
2018 Volvo Players’ Choice Super Rugby Team of the Year
1. Scott Sio (26 years old, Brumbies – 12 appearances)
2. Folau Fainga’a (23 years old, Brumbies – 13 appearances, 3 tries)
3. Taniela Tupou (23 years old, Reds – 15 appearances, 4 tries)
4. Rory Arnold (28 years old, Brumbies – 13 appearances, 2 tries)
5. Rob Simmons (29 years old, Waratahs – 16 appearances, 1 try)
6. Angus Cottrell (28 years old Rebels – 14 appearances, 1 try)
7. David Pocock (30 years old, Brumbies – 10 appearances, 2 tries)
8. Isi Naisarani (23 years old, Brumbies – 15 appearances, 5 tries)
9. Will Genia (30 years old, Rebels – 9 appearances, 1 try)
10. Bernard Foley (28 years old, Waratahs– 18 appearances, 223 points)
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (26 years old, Waratahs – 16 appearances, 15 tries)
12. Kurtley Beale (29 years old, Waratahs – 18 appearances, 2 tries)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (27 years old, Brumbies – 16 appearances, 2 tries)
14. Jack Maddocks (21 years old, Rebels – 15 appearances, 9 tries)
15. Israel Folau (29 years old, Waratahs – 14 appearances, 11 tries)
In 2018, the Volvo Players’ Choice Team of the Year replaces the People’s Choice Team of the Year, a competition which has run for the past two seasons, and exclusively empowers Australia’s players to select the best of the best who they play alongside and against every weekend.
The team recognises players who have represented Australian Super Rugby Clubs in 2018, with a shortlist compiled of players per position not excluding anybody based on nationality or international availability.