As we move into the closing stages of the regular season (and ever-closer to the Rugby World Cup), our friends at Opta have selected a XV for each conference based upon Super Rugby form.
Players must have featured in at least seven Super Rugby games this year and their selection is based upon their average Opta Index score per game, rather than a total.
After every match Opta completes a video analysis of every touch of the ball. Each action in the match is awarded a points value depending on the relative importance of the action. So for example, a try scores more points than a tackle, but a player loses points for a missed tackle.
The points are then weighted against the score at the time when the action took place (higher points if the score is closer), the time in the match (higher points at the start of the match) and the position on the pitch where it took place (higher points for actions closer to the goal line).
The player is then given a score for the match by adding up all his actions while he was on the field. The total match score is then weighted to take account of the strength of the opposition so that performances across many matches can be judged fairly.
Without further ado...
Australian Conference XV
1. Scott Sio (Brumbies) - the Brumbies' number one has proved his ability in the loose chipping in with 30 carries as well as completing 44/51 tackles.
2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies) - the Brumbies have the best lineout success of any team this season (91%) thanks to this man who has found a teammate with 98 of his 108 lineout throws. The consistent hooker has also proven his worth in open play, completing 75/82 tackles and making 74 carries - the second most of any hooker.
3. Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) - the Waratah prop has maintained a tackle success rate of 93% this season (62/67), and is a real threat in the loose. He has beaten the third-most defenders (8) and made the second-most successful offloads (8) of any prop this season.
4. Luke Jones (Rebels) - Jones has proven himself to be a good all-rounder this season making the second-most carries (124) of any forward and winning the joint fourth most lineouts (43 + 1 steal). He has also made over 100 tackles while maintaining a success rate of 95% (106/112) and won seven turnovers for his side.
5. Will Skelton (Waratahs) - the second rower has continued to be a monster with ball in hand this season, making 113 carries and beating 19 defenders. His ability to dominate the contact area has allowed him to make the most offloads by a forward this season, bringing a teammate into play on 24 occasions with a pass out of the tackle.
6. Sean McMahon (Rebels) - the flanker has beaten the most defenders of any Rebels player this season (26) and has shown an eye for the gap making seven clean breaks in his 11 games. Defensively he is strong as well, with only Michael Hooper (139/157) making more tackles than McMahon (117/128) of players in the Australian Conference.
7. David Pocock (Brumbies) - perhaps the biggest talking point, as David Pocock takes the number seven shirt ahead of Michael Hooper. Pocock is a turnover machine, averaging exactly two per game - more than any other player this season. He has also missed just four of his 102 attempted tackles, and chipped in with 98 carries and 12 defenders beaten and his try-scoring record (4) is a handy bonus.
8. Ben McCalman (Force) - has been his side’s go-to man with ball in hand, making 145 carries - the most of any forward in the league - beating 18 defenders along the way. He is also the Force’s top tackler, making 96 of his 105 attempted tackles.
9. Will Genia (Reds) - no player has assisted more tries than Genia, who has sent a teammate over the line on eight occasions. He has also beaten the most defenders (18) and made the joint second most offloads (11) of any scrumhalf this season.
10. Bernard Foley (Waratahs) - Foley is the third top point scorer this season, and is involved in a try every other game (6 - 3 tries, 3 assists). He has gained the most metres of any half back this season (637), beating 22 defenders and making 15 clean breaks along the way.
11. James O'Connor (Reds) - playing the majority of his games on the wing, O’Connor has beaten the most defenders of any Reds player this season (27) and few players in Super Rugby can better his average of 3.4 beaten per game. He has also turned provider on a number of occasions this season, making five assists in total.
12. Mitch Inman (Rebels) - Inman pipped Kurtley Beale to the 12 shirt, having proven himself to be a dependable, all-round player. He is the only Rebels player to play every minute of his team’s campaign, and has repaid the faith in him by beating 24 defenders, making 11 clean breaks and making 105 tackles while maintaining a 91% tackle success rate.
13. Samu Kerevi (Reds) - the Reds’ top try scorer with five tries has gained 423 metres from 100 carries, beating 25 defenders on the way. He has also shown his ability without the ball by winning eight turnovers for his team.
14. Dom Shipperley (Rebels) - Shipperly has chipped in to the Rebels cause, scoring three tries in his nine games. He has an impressive average gain of 6.3 metres per carry, gaining 461 metres in total. He has an eye for a gap, making 11 breaks, and has also beaten 11 defenders. He has played the full 80 in every game he has started in this season.
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs) - the top performer this season, Folau has gained more metres than any other player (1217) while only Damian de Allende (49) has beaten more defenders than Folau (44). He has played every minute for the Tahs this season and has been a pivotal player, assisting seven tries. His 33 successful offloads is a competition-high this season, while only one player has played more minutes without conceding a penalty this season.
New Zealand Conference XV
1. Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders) - as well as being part of a Crusaders team that has the second best scrum success this season (93%), Crockett has completed 61 tackles, and made 26 carries, losing the ball just twice in total.
2. Keven Mealamu (Blues) - Mealamu has been effective in the loose this season, beating six defenders and making five offloads, while his defensive ability has shone with the experienced hooker missing just four of his 56 attempted tackles.
3. Charlie Faumuina (Blues) - no prop in Super Rugby 2015 has beaten more defenders than the Blues' number three who has evaded 13 would-be tacklers. He has also offloaded more than any other player in his position (9), while no prop has made more clean breaks than Faumuina either (3).
4. James Broadhurst (Hurricanes) - a solid all-rounder, Broadhurst has made 94 carries in his 11 appearances, beating 12 defenders and making four clean breaks. He has also offloaded more than any 'Canes player (16) while making over 100 tackles for the Wellington-based side (108/122).
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) - Whitelock has had a positive impact for the Crusaders this season, assisting three tries as well as crossing for one himself. He has maintained a 91% tackle success rate (63/69) and with ball in hand has beaten an impressive 14 defenders.
6. Akira Ioane (Blues) - the Blues’ back rower has been sensational in attack and defence. He has averaged 3.3 defenders beaten per game this season, more than any other forward, and made five clean breaks. Defensively he has missed just one tackle this season (46/47) and won seven turnovers for his team.
7. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) - only one Savea makes the New Zealand Conference team, with younger brother Ardie taking the number seven jersey. His strong all-round ability meant he edged out Sam Cane with Savea making 104/114 tackles and winning 10 turnovers in defence. In attack he has beaten 25 defenders and made 10 clean breaks, assisting three tries and scoring one of his own.
8. Kieran Read (Crusaders) - the Crusaders' target man in the lineout, Read has won 23 and stolen three for the Canterbury side. He has been a real threat for the Crusaders this season, with no forward in Super Rugby assisting more tries than Read’s four.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) - the 'Canes number nine has been directly involved in 13 tries this season (7 tries, 6 assists), more than any other player in the competition. He has also shown he is defensively solid, boasting the best tackle success of any scrumhalf to attempt at least 20 tackles (94% - 49/52).
10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) - the top performer in the New Zealand Conference, Barrett has the best average gain of any flyhalf to make at least 10 carries (7.7m) gaining over 600 metres in total. He has also beaten an impressive 23 defenders and crossed for three tries as well as assisting two more.
11. James Lowe (Chiefs) - Lowe ranks in the top eight players this season for clean breaks (15) and metres gained (745). He has also beaten 24 defenders as well as showing his ability without the ball by winning seven turnovers for his side.
12. George Moala (Blues) - just two players have beaten more defenders this season than Moala (39) who has also made 91% of his tackles this season (43/47) and won eight turnovers.
13. Charles Piutau (Blues) - Piutau takes the 13 jersey, playing in the outside centre position early on in the season. He has beaten 31 defenders in his 10 games this year and has proven to be a danger when he is tackled, making 15 successful offloads.
14. Waisake Naholo (Highlanders) - the top try scorer this season (8), Naholo has also gained the third most metres in the league (934) beating 35 defenders in total. He is also effective in defence as only two backs have won more turnovers than Naholo’s 13.
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) - the sixth-top metre maker this season, Ben Smith (771), completes the New Zealand team. He has been busy at fullback, beating 32 defenders and making 15 clean breaks, as well as providing an offloading threat with 19 to his name thus far.
South African Conference XV
1. Steven Kitshoff (Stormers) - is part of a Stormer pack that has the best scrum success of any South African team (92%). Kitshoff has made the joint-third most carries of any prop this season (67) as well as winning four turnovers. His three penalties conceded is also remarkably low for a prop.
2. Adriaan Strauss (Bulls) - only four hookers have made more successful lineout throws than Strauss (91/102), who has a better success rate than all but one of the players above him (89%). He has also missed just four of 54 tackles this season and has chipped in with 73 carries in attack.
3. Vincent Koch (Stormers) - the prop completes a front row that is two thirds Stormers, with his side boasting a 92% scrum success this year. He has made 60/66 tackes this season and won four turnovers, proving his defensive worth. His three clean breaks is a joint-high for a prop this season.
4. Jacques du Plessis (Bulls) - Du Plessis has been one of the Bulls’ top performers this season and is the top tackler for his side (120/125 - 96%). He has also beaten 21 defenders, the most of any second row this season.
5. Victor Matfield (Bulls) - Matfield joins his teammate in the engine room, narrowly edging past Eben Etzebeth to claim the second lock position. Matfield remains the lineout king, taking 30 and stealing four for his team this season and in defence has missed just 7 of 91 tackles for a 92% success rate.
6. Jaco Kriel (Lions) - the Lions' back row has been incredible this season with Kriel showing his destructive ball carrying ability in beating more defenders than any other forward this season (32) and scoring three tries. In defence he has made 104 tackles and missed just eight (93%).
7. Schalk Burger (Stormers) - in his nine appearances Schalk Burger has won 10 turnovers, the most for the Stormers this season. He has also put up his hand in attack by making 98 carries and 16 successful offloads.
8. Warren Whiteley (Lions) - Whiteley has been a huge player for an improved Lions side this season. The back rower has made more tackles than any other player while maintaining an incredible 97% success rate, missing just six of 194 attempted hits. He has also won 13 turnovers for his side and interestingly had made the most passes of any forward this season, which have led to three try assists.
9. Cobus Reinach (Sharks) - the Sharks' number nine has made 15 clean breaks this season, more than any other scrumhalf, and beaten the second most defenders for his position (18). He has also assisted four tries and scored two of his own.
10. Handrè Pollard (Bulls) - the top points-scorer this season, and the top Opta Index performer in the South African Conference, Pollard has shown his vast potential in 2015. He has beaten 17 defenders, scored two tries and assisted two as well. His seven turnovers won also show that he does his share of defensive work.
11. Dillyn Leyds (Stormers) - Leyds has been deployed on the wing this season, and began the season in fine form with two tries in the Stormers’ first two games. He has made 11 clean breaks and beaten 20 defenders in attack, while he is defensively solid, missing just three of 42 tackles for a 93% tackle success rate.
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers) - no player has beaten more defenders this season than De Allende (49) who has made 16 clean breaks and gained over 500 metres also (564). He has two tries and two assists to his name, while in defence he has won nine turnovers.
13. Francois Venter (Cheetahs) - Venter has beaten more defenders than any other Cheetahs player this season (19) and only three players in Super Rugby have scored more than Venter’s five tries thus far. He is stubborn in defence as well - no back has made as many tackles as the centre this season (119/132 - 90%).
14. Cornal Hendricks (Cheetahs) - Hendricks has been one of the Cheetahs’ key men in breaking the defensive line this season, with his 10 clean breaks being two more than any other player in his team. He can’t be accused of costing his team points either – only four players have played more minutes this season without conceding a penalty.
15. SP Marais (Sharks) - of players to make at least 80+ carries this season, only one player has a better average gain than SP Marais (8.8m). The fullback has also shown his threat in the tackle area making 17 successful offloads.