Our friends at Opta Sports have crunched the numbers to create the Super Rugby Team of the Week following the completion of Round 8.

Sefa Naivalu of the Rebels produced one of the most scintillating attacking performances in recent Super Rugby memory to top the Opta Index.

In fact, Naivalu's 192 metres was the most by any player since Israel Folau accumulated 194 almost two years ago as he continues his remarkable rise through the ranks from Victorian club rugby.

Three Hurricanes and three Stormers feature in the team, which in itself provides some insight into what a high-quality match we saw at Westpac Stadium last Friday night.

A trio of Brumbies also made the side following their demolition of the Cheetahs while just one Crusader, Ryan Crotty, earns a call-up following what was a comprehensive team effort against the Sharks in Durban.

See the full team selection and statistics below.


Number Name Team Minutes Opta Index* Performance Fact
1 Steven Kitshoff Stormers 74 406 Made 10 carries and 9/9 tackles while his side won all nine of their scrums. 
2 Stephen Moore Brumbies 55 225 Made more lineout throws (11) than any other player and found the target with each one.  He also made eight carries and won a turnover. 
3 Vincent Koch Stormers 67 321 Made 15 carries, more than any other prop forward.  His side won 9/9 scrums.
4 Jeremy Thrush Hurricanes 80 328 Ranked second for tackles (24/26) this weekend and won a turnover for his side. He also chipped in with eight carries. 
5 Luke Jones Rebels 80 311 Made 14 carries and a clean break in attack. He also won three lineouts and did not miss a tackle. 
6 Liam Messam Chiefs 80 428 Assisted two tries for his side and missed none of his 13 attempted tackles. He also won two turnovers.
7 Liam Gill Reds 80 428 One of three players to make 20 tackles (20/21) this weekend and he also beat two defenders. He won the joint-most turnovers (3) in the round.
8 Duane Vermeulen Stormers 80 348 Made the joint-most carries (17) and gained 52 metres despite no breaks. He also beat three defenders and assisted a try. 
9 Nic White Brumbies 80 382 Made two breaks, beat two defenders and completed all six tackles.
10 Beauden Barrett Hurricanes 80 386 Scored a try and set up another and also made 10 tackles and scored 15 points, kicking 4/5.
11 Sefa Naivalu (c) Rebels 80 565 Gained 192 metres, the highest gain in a single match since Israel Folau in May 2013 (194). He also made five clean breaks; a match joint-high this year.
12 Ryan Crotty Crusaders 80 387 The try-scorer made two breaks and beat three defenders, also winning two turnovers.
13 Henry Speight Brumbies 80 319 Made a round joint-high four offloads and beat three defenders, gaining 74 metres.
14 Frank Halai Blues 69 380 Mustered four clean breaks and three defenders in the Blues' loss to the Chiefs.
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder Hurricanes 72 387 Gained 109 metres from seven carries; the highest average gain of anyone to make 5+ carries.  He assisted a try and scored one, beating six defenders along the way.

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.

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