Our friends at Opta Sports have crunched the numbers to create the Super Rugby Team of the Week following the completion of Round 17.
After a relatively quiet year on the scoreboard by his lofty standards, Israel Folau exploded for a hat-trick and a pair of assists in his side's victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Wallaby and Waratah fullback beat a round-high eight defenders and broke the line on four occasions to wreak havoc against a disjointed Cheetah defence. Teammate Matt Carraro also earned a spot in the top XV for his 117 metres and two tries.
Another player to bag a hat-trick this week was Brumby flanker David Pocock, although it was his tackling prowess (15/15) and another 80 minutes that will be of most interest to Wallaby fans and head coach Michael Cheika.
Eben Etzebeth, Schalk Burger and Nic Groom all feature for the Stormers while Dane Coles, Victor Vito and Nehe Milner-Skudder got the call from the Hurricanes, who guaranteed top spot on the Super Rugby log with a crushing win over the Highlanders.
See the full team selection and statistics below.
|Number||Name||Team||Minutes||Opta Index*||Performance Fact|
|1||Wyatt Crockett||Crusaders||57||349||Part of a front row that didn't lose a single scrum on their put-in and also gained 26 metres from just five carries.|
|2||Dane Coles||Hurricanes||66||345||Made two clean breaks, beat three defenders and crossed for a try against the Highlanders.|
|3||Paul Alo-Emile||Rebels||80||298||Part of a Rebels front row that won all their scrums, as well as making 8/9 tackles and two successful offloads against the Bulls.|
|4||Eben Etzebeth||Stormers||80||440||Made all 14 of his attempted tackles, as well as making two clean breaks and beating two defenders for a total gain of 50 metres.|
|5||Luke Jones||Rebels||80||297||Made 10/10 tackles, won three lineouts (and stole another) and also beat two Bulls' defenders.|
|6||Schalk Burger||Stormers||80||561||Made a round-high 23 tackles, as well as the joint second most carries (15).|
|7||David Pocock||Brumbies||80||449||Scored his second hat-trick of the season and didn't miss with any of his 15 attempted tackles.|
|8||Victor Vito||Hurricanes||80||419||Made a round-high 19 carries, beat two defenders and won two turnovers.|
|9||Nic Groom||Stormers||80||516||Made 14/14 tackles - more than any other scrumhalf - and crossed for a try.|
|10||Dan Carter||Crusaders||80||511||Converted all six of his shots at goal, made 12 tackles and assisted a try against the Blues.|
|11||Matt Carraro||Waratahs||80||545||Made five clean breaks, more than any other player in the round, helping him to a 117 metre gain and two tries.|
|12||Burger Odendaal||Bulls||80||409||Beat five defenders and made 15/16 tackles, winning a turnover.|
|13||Francois Venter||Cheetahs||80||443||Crossed the tryline twice, beat three defenders and made two clean breaks, while also making 12/13 tackles.|
|14||Nehe Milner-Skudder||Highlanders||57||468||Topped the metres made chart with 131 thanks to four clean breaks and seven defenders beaten.|
|15||Israel Folau (c)||Waratahs||80||631||Beat a round joint high eight defenders, made four clean breaks and helped himself to a hat-trick and two try assists.|
Opta Index: How does it work?
The Opta Index allows genuine opportunities to compare and contrast both player and team strengths and weaknesses across Super Rugby, providing real insights pre-game as follows:
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.