The people have spoken with all five Australian Super Rugby teams being represented in the inaugural Volvo People’s Choice Team of the Year as unveiled today by The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA).
During the Super Rugby Finals series, Volvo and RUPA charged the Rugby-loving public to have their say on which Australian players should be selected in the People’s Choice Team of the Year. Demonstrating a changing of the guard since last year’s Rugby World Cup, two players yet to make their debut at International level made the cut.
NSW Waratahs loose forward Jed Holloway and Melbourne Rebels winger Sefanaia Naivalu are the two uncapped players in the fifteen, with fans from across Australia coming together to select the team based on who has been the standout in each position over the course of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
The team features five players from the Brumbies and Waratahs apiece, two each from the Queensland Reds and Western Force, and one from the Rebels with Naivalu their lone selection.
The front row sees experienced props James Slipper (loosehead) and Greg Holmes (tighthead) selected, with Wallabies’ Captain Stephen Moore chosen as hooker, while 2016 Australian Test debutants Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman are selected in the second row.
The backrow sees Holloway joined by Brumbies leaders Scott Fardy and David Pocock, while Waratahs halves partners Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley are selected in the 9 and 10 jerseys.
In the midfield, Matt Toomua and Israel Folau combine, with Rob Horne (left wing), Naivalu (right wing) and Western Force fullback Dane Haylett-Petty completing the side as the back three.
RUPA Chief Executive Officer Ross Xenos congratulated all players selected in the team.
“Congratulations to all players who’ve been selected in the first ever Volvo People’s Choice Team of the Year,” Xenos said. “This team is voted on exclusively by the fans, whose contribution to their team and the game, be it in the stands, in front of their televisions, or from anywhere in the world, makes it possible for our members to play Rugby professionally.
“To be selected in this team is a wonderful recognition for players, particularly some of the names that we are less familiar with around the national team. All fifteen players richly deserve their selection although there are plenty of others who have only very narrowly missed out.
“I would like to pay tribute to Volvo for their ongoing support of RUPA and for partnering in this competition with us. Their shared vision has allowed us to conceptualise this really engaging and innovative fan engagement competition for the Australian Rugby public.”
2016 Volvo People’s Choice Team of the Year:
1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
3. Greg Holmes (Queensland Reds)
4. Rory Arnold (Brumbies)
5. Adam Coleman (Western Force)
6. Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
7. David Pocock (Brumbies)
8. Jed Holloway (NSW Waratahs)
9. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
11. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
12. Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
13. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
14. Sefanaia Naivalu (Melbourne Rebels)
15. Dane Haylett-Petty (Western Force)
Five players (one from each Australian Super Rugby team) per position were selected by RUPA based on the number of minutes they played and the affect they've had on their team's results in the 2016 Super Rugby season, with players only eligible to be picked in one position.
For teams such as the Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds, who experienced a large number of injuries and therefore less selection consistency in 2016, some liberties have been taken to try and provide the best snapshot of players who have featured for them.
Only one entry per person was counted towards the final tally, as remarkably no entrants picked the exact 15-man side that Australia selected. Three entrants have each won tickets for themselves and five friends to attend one of Australia’s home Test matches in 2016 in either Brisbane, Sydney or Perth.