Semi Radradra has been named in Planet Rugby’s Team of the Year.
Radradra is the only Fijian that made it into Planet Rugby’s best 15 of the year.
Since moving to rugby union, Radradra has been incredibly destructive and shone for Toulon in the early part of 2018.
Radradra made his Fiji debut in June before starring in their outstanding triumph over France in Paris.
Jack Goodhue and Garry Ringrose were consistently good for New Zealand and Ireland respectively, but Radradra produced several game-defining displays to be named as Planet Rugby’s best centre for 2018.
Planet Rugby’s 2018 Team of the Year
15 Ben Smith (Highlanders and New Zealand): After taking a sabbatical following a series of head knocks last year, the back three player returned in 2018 and produced several superb performances. Despite being 32, Smith is still fleet of foot and was the All Blacks’ best outside back this season. Featured at both full-back and on the wing but adapted excellently to the challenges and, injury-depending, will be crucial to New Zealand’s World Cup defence next year.
14 Rieko Ioane (Blues and New Zealand): England‘s Jonny May was close having enjoyed his best-ever year for club and country but Ioane edges it. Shifts to the right due to the fact that Jacob Stockdale was a certainty for the left wing position and had a fine campaign. Ioane didn’t suffer from ‘second season syndrome’ which afflicts so many others and now has a try-scoring record that stands at a remarkable 22 tries in 24 matches.
13 Semi Radradra (Bordeaux and Fiji): Since moving to rugby union, the centre has been incredibly destructive and shone for Toulon in the early part of 2018. Radradra then made his Fiji debut in June before starring for the Pacific Islanders in their outstanding triumph over France in Paris. Jack Goodhue and Garry Ringrose were consistently good for New Zealand and Ireland respectively, but the 26-year-old produced several game-defining displays.
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens and England): Whether at fly-half or centre, Farrell is crucial to the Red Rose and was their best performer over the year. Even during a poor Six Nations campaign for Eddie Jones’ men, Farrell was the player that didn’t fall below the standards he set in 2017. The Sarries man also had a good tour to South Africa on a personal level while the playmaker was instrumental in England’s improved performances in November as he edged out New Zealand’s Ryan Crotty
11 Jacob Stockdale (Ulster and Ireland): A record-breaking year for the wing, who touched down seven times in the Six Nations – the most ever in a single campaign. Was then part of Ireland’s series victory over Australia before he scored the decisive try as they defeated New Zealand in November. Stockdale has a record of 12 tries in 14 games and, as a result, comfortably takes his place in the XV in what has been a superb 2018 for the back three player.
10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster and Ireland): Having had to patiently play second fiddle to Beauden Barrett for a number of years, 2018 is the year of the Ireland number 10. Sexton was instrumental in leading Ireland to Grand Slam success in the Six Nations, winning the PRO14 and Champions Cup with Leinster as well as orchestrating a memorable 16-9 victory over the All Blacks. To top it off, he was the unanimous choice for World Rugby’s Player of the Year award.
9 Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks and South Africa): The fiery blonde-haired number nine was a modicum of consistency this season. De Klerk shone in his debut campaign in the Premiership and was rewarded with a return to the Springbok team after a two-year hiatus. He has now become the sole proprietor of the Bok number nine jersey after producing a series of inspired performances, including a stunning display in that 36-34 victory over the All Blacks in Wellington.
8 David Pocock (Brumbies and Australia): If there was an example of someone literally putting their body on the line, it would be the Wallabies number eight. Such is his dominance at the breakdown area that teams often resort to neck rolls in order to get the fetcher out of the ruck. Was absolutely immense in the June series against Ireland, the November internationals as well as throughout the Super Rugby campaign.
7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes and New Zealand): With Sam Cane having been sidelined for most of the season with a neck fracture, Savea stepped up to the plate with aplomb. With 78 carries and 112 tackles from 13 Tests for the All Blacks, his work-rate is second-to-none. Savea made 283 metres in total, while he only missed seven tackles all season with a 94 percent success rate.
6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster and Ireland): O’Mahony stepped up to the plate superbly when taking over the captaincy from an injured Rory Best this season. He produced arguably his best display of the season in the victory over the All Blacks, coming away with the man-of-the-match award. On top of leading Ireland to Grand Slam success and a series win over Australia, O’Mahony has also been in fantastic form for his province Munster.
5 James Ryan (Leinster and Ireland): One of the most exciting players in the game, Ryan is the prototype of the modern day lock, who gets through plenty of graft on defence and attack while his line-out work is also excellent. The 22-year-old’s superb performances has reaped its reward and despite his short time in the game, he has already won a Six Nations Grand Slam as well as a PRO14 title and Champions Cup.
4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs and New Zealand): An easy decision as he seldom plays poorly and is a rock for the Chiefs and New Zealand. Rated by many as the best lock in the world, Retallick is a tight forward who has the skill-set of a back-line player but also shines at the coalface for both club and country. Retallick’s value to the world champions was best illustrated when he missed their defeat to the Springboks in Wellington due to injury.
3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster and Ireland): Another Leinster and Ireland stalwart, who was brilliant throughout the year. A solid scrummager, who seldom takes a backward step at the set-piece, Furlong also impressed with ball in hand and on defence especially at close quarters where his physicality in the latter department caught the eye.
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions and South Africa): This was a tough decision as we feel Marx was not as good as he was in 2017 but, despite going through a slight dip in form for his country, his performances for the Lions were superb and he played a major part in helping them reach the Super Rugby Final. Beats out New Zealand’s Codie Taylor and Guilhem Guirado of France.
1 Cian Healy (Leinster and Ireland): Springboks and Stormers hardman Steven Kitshoff was the choice for our Readers’ Team but we’ve gone for Healy, who has been excellent for his province and country. After playing second fiddle to Jack McGrath in recent years, the 31-year-old experienced a renaissance at both club and Test level in 2018 and was solid in executing his core duties but also impressed as a ball carrier which has always been one of the strengths.