Our friends at Opta Sports have crunched the numbers to create the Super Rugby Team of the Week following the completion of Round 9.

Ben Smith returns to the team in the No. 15 jersey after helping steer the Highlanders to their first triumph in Christchurch since 2008. Not only did the All Black score a crucial try, but he also made 115 metres and contributed strongly in defence with 7/7 tackles.

It was a stunning weekend for South African teams with all but the Sharks (who played the Lions) triumphant.

The Cheetahs headline representation this week, staking their claim to half of the forwards, while the Bulls and Stormers each account for two representatives after strong victories over the Reds and Waratahs respectively.

It's been a somewhat lean season for the Reds, but they showed glimpses of form in Pretoria on Saturday, despite coming up just short. Nick Frisby and Samu Kerevi were instrumental in helping the scoreboard tick over to earn a four-try bonus point and have earned selection off the back of that performance.

See the full team selection and statistics below.


Number Name Team Minutes Opta Index* Performance Fact
1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi Blues 80 338 Completed 17/17 tackles and won a turnover in the Blues' first victory.  
2 Torsten van Jaarsveld Cheetahs 79 309 Made the most lineout throws last weekend and found the target with every single one (10/10).
3 Coenraad Oosthuizen Cheetahs 80 213 Made eight carries and 15/19 tackles against the Force in Perth.
4 Eben Etzebeth Stormers 80 282 Produced three lineout steals; a feat not managed since July last year. 
5 Patrick Tuipulotu Blues 64 277 Won more lineouts (7) than any other player in Round 9 and did not miss a tackle (6/6). 
6 Heinrich Brussow Cheetahs 80 422 The top tackler of the round (21/21) also won two turnovers and scored a try.
7 Boom Prinsloo Cheetahs 74 431 Completed 20/21 tackles and secured two turnovers for his side, also chipping in with 12 carries in attack.
8 Pierre Spies Bulls 80 375 A try-scorer, who also completed all 14 of his tackles and beat two defenders.
9 Faf de Klerk Lions 51 414 The try-scorer beat five defenders and made three breaks, helping him to an average gain of over nine metres from seven carries.
10 Nick Frisby Reds 80 326 Scored a try, assisted another and made two clean breaks.
11 Francois Hougaard Bulls 80 415 Scored two tries and made 153 metres from just seven carries, thanks to three breaks. His gain of 22m per carry was higher than anyone else to make three or more runs.
12 Damian de Allende Stormers 78 376 Made three breaks from just five carries, beating four defenders and scoring two tries.
13 Samu Kerevi Reds 80 329 Gained 110 metres and beat five defenders from his 14 carries. He also made two breaks and won two turnovers.
14 Waisake Naholo Highlanders 80 490 The two-try winger made three breaks, beat four defenders and managed a monstrous gain of 152 metres.
15 Ben Smith (c) Highlanders 80 616 Scored a crucial try and made 17 carries for 115 metres, beating five defenders and making three offloads. Also made 7/7 tackles.

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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