Michael Hooper overlooked in Super Rugby players’ choice team
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Michael Hooper overlooked in Super Rugby players’ choice team

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is one of eight players from Australia’s starting side from the second Bledisloe Cup Test to miss out on selection in a Super Rugby merit side voted by their peers.

David Pocock edged out Hooper as the country’s best openside breakaway for the 2018 Super Rugby season in a the Volvo Super Rugby Players’ Choice Team of the Year.

Back row battle: Michael Hooper and David Pocock are two of the world's best back-rowers, but there can be only one No. 7.

Back row battle: Michael Hooper and David Pocock are two of the world's best back-rowers, but there can be only one No. 7.

Photo: AAP

The fact both Pocock and Hooper, two of the world’s best back-rowers, only played at No.7 this year meant that one had to miss out.

For years there has been healthy debate as to whether Pocock is better suited to No.7 but national coach Michael Cheika has shown since the 2015 Rugby World Cup he will find a spot for both men in the Wallabies back row.

Perhaps more interesting than Hooper’s omission is that of current Wallabies starters Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Tui, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge and Dane-Haylett-Petty.  However some of those omissions can be explained by injuries to Taniela Tupou, Tevita Kuridrani and Israel Folau, who all made the merit team. Wallabies starting Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was not eligible as he has been playing in the UK.

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Fijian-born No.8 Isi Naisarani is the only player on the 15-man list not eligible to play for the Wallabies. Early next year he will be able to don a gold jersey.

The biggest confidence blow will be that of Coleman, who after being lauded last year as one of the Wallabies’ hardest working forwards has been snubbed for Rory Arnold and Rob Simmons, two players yet to earn a start for Australia this year.

The left-field selection is that of No.6 Angus Cottrell, the Melbourne Rebels blindside who had his best Super Rugby season to date. Being praised by peers is an almighty compliment which could suggest recognition from Wallabies selectors is not too far away.

The usual suspects of Will Genia, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale were all selected, while new Wallaby Jack Maddocks was named on the wing in the merit side after an outstanding Super Rugby season.

Taqele Naiyaravoro scored 15 tries in 16 matches for the Waratahs this season and was chosen on the opposit side to Maddocks. His Super Rugby numbers were far superior to that of Koroibete, who did not play anywhere near his potential in the first two Bledisloe Cup fixtures.

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)