Rob Valetini (Brumbies)
Equally at home in either the No 8 jersey, where he played most of the Super Rugby AU season, and No 6, where he played in the final, Rob Valetini was one of the top forwards in the competition. He carries hard – no forward made more carries – and hits hard in the tackle, so expect him to add to his four Wallaby Test caps in July. Valetini offers a good for for Pete Samu in a strong Brumbies pack. He recently re-signed for the Brumbies and Rugby Australia until the end of 2023.
James O’Connor (Reds)
Even before his heroics in the Super Rugby AU final, James O’Connor was voted the competition’s MVP. Around 30 percent of all fans’ votes went to the classy utility back, who has found a home in the Reds’ No 10 jersey. He is controlling the game with authority and maturity through his wide skillset and is kicking goals like Hayden Parker at around 87 percent. In the Super Rugby AU final, he scored all 19 points, including the late match-clinching try. Can you believe he is still just 30 years old? It seems like only yesterday he was showing all his precociousness for the 2008 Western Force.
Matt Toomua (Rebels)
Most of the good that happens at the Melbourne Rebels revolves around what the talented Matt Toomua does in the either No 10, or occasionally, the No 12, jersey. His on-point passing and kicking games hold the secret to unlocking some of the pace out wide, where Marika Koroibete lurks. Only James O’Connor scored more than his 102 points in Super Rugby AU.
Jeremy Thrush (Force)
The 12-Test All Blacks lock is 36 but age has not wearied him. He is still doing the damage in the middle of the Western Force engine room, hitting rucks with venom and pulling down lineouts. Only four men won more than his 23 in Super Rugby AU. But it’s his leadership which has been gold for the fledgling Force, and Thrush has assumed the captain’s armband to guide this hungry, mostly young, squad.
Jack Maddocks (Waratahs)
Jack Maddocks is still young and has ample speed and flair. Even in a struggling Waratahs outfit, the fullback/wing has been able to shine, posting some impressive numbers, which include three tries, 84 carries, nine clean breaks, and 554 metres carried. That said, the former Australian Schoolboys and Junior Wallabies rep will be smarting after missing Dave Rennie’s first Wallaby squad of 2021, so will be anxious to show his wares against the Kiwi teams.