Manu Samoa stars among world's best
Three Manu Samoa representatives rank among the best domestic rugby players in the world in their positions since the beginning of last year.
Sports analytics company Opta put together a shortlist for a World XV featuring the top eight players in each position according to their Opta Index, which awards individual players points for influential positive contributions in matches, and takes away points for negative contributions like conceding penalties and turnovers.
The company put their lists on social media platform Twitter, and invited people to vote for who they thought the best player was.
Manu captain Chris Vui was among those nominated at lock for his outstanding play for Bristol Bears in England’s Premiership Rugby.
His teammate for club and country Alapati Leiua earned a nomination on the wing, with Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa among the world’s best tighthead props.
When voting was completed Opta put forth three complete Best Club XV’s with none of the trio receiving enough votes to feature.
Uncapped Samoan fullback Melani Nanai was the third-equal vote-getter in the 15 jersey, while Samoan All Blacks Rieko Ioane and Ardie Savea were selected as a first choice winger and second choice openside flanker respectively.
Former Wallaby Will Skelton was picked as one of the two best locks in the world alongside his Saracens clubmate Maro Itoje.
Opta Best Club XV (players from Super Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Top 14, Pro 14, European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup since January 2019)
- Mako Vunipola (Saracens) Runners-up: Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh), Jack McGrath (Ulster)
- Camille Chat (Racing 92) Runners-up: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Harry Thacker (Bristol)
- Tadhg Furlong (Leinster) Runners-up: Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Andrew Porter (Leinster)
- Maro Itoje (Saracens) Runners-up: Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow), Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
- Will Skelton (Saracens) Runners-up: Jonny Gray (Glasgow), James Ryan (Leinster)
- Jake Polledri (Gloucester) Runners-up: Jono Ross (Sale), Pablo Matera (Jaguares)
- Lewis Ludlam (Northampton) Runners-up: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)
- CJ Stander (Munster) Runners-up: Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Daniel du Preez (Sale)
- Antoine Dupont (Toulouse) Runners-up: John Cooney (Ulster), George Horne (Glasgow)
- Finn Russell (Racing 92) Runners-up: Handre Pollard (Bulls/Montpellier), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Blues)
- Rieko Ioane (Blues) Runners-up: Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92)
- Samu Kerevi (Reds) Runners-up: Damian de Allende (Stormers/Munster), Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
- Semi Radradra (Bordeaux/Bristol) Runners-up: Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester)
- Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) Runners-up: Sevu Reece (Crusaders), Jonny May (Leicester)
- Charles Piutau (Bristol) Runners-up: Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes), Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)/Melani Nanai (Blues/Worcester)