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Benito a hot topic

Irb
Thursday, January 23, 2014

As well as being the most competitive to date, this year's HSBC Sevens World Series has also been the most talked-about.

That's not altogether surprising given the advances in online and social media — fans now are able to watch and read more about the game, and also have their say — but you might be surprised to discover the most-talked about players.

Ahead of round four of the series this weekend in Las Vegas, we unveil the five stars who have most lit up the Sevens social-sphere, and try to pin-point when and why...

Branco du Preez, South Africa: While tournament hashtags have often trended worldwide this season, du Preez is currently the only player on the circuit to have achieved this feat.

The South African playmaker did so with that sidestep in Dubai against Kenya. Du Preez has scored 61 points in the Series so far, but it was his two tries in the final against New Zealand on home soil that also got fans' thumbs going.

Collins Injera, Kenya: Unsurprisingly, there is a Kenyan in the shortlist.

Without doubt Kenya are the most supported side on social media, but their captain for this weekend's USA Sevens is their biggest hero.

In Australia, fans were lauding praise on Injera for becoming the country's all-time leading try scorer in Sevens, as well as voting for his try as their favourite from the tournament.

Carlin Isles, USA: At the beginning of the season Isles was being talked about as the "world's fastest rugby player" and before every tournament the wing is built up like no other.

Questions have often been asked about why he was sitting on the bench, and about his defence, but there is no denying that his tries, including five in South Africa, are the most spoken-about, and watched, of them all.

His recent signature for the Detroit Lions also sparked debate online, but many will be waiting with anticipation to see how Isles does on home soil this weekend.

Mike Ellery, England: Whether it's his deceptive pace, his curly locks or his sister who also represented England in Dubai, Mike Ellery has become a name almost overnight.

As a relative newcomer to the circuit, he has surprised people with his pace and coach Simon Amor's policy of starting him ahead of Dan Norton has also prompted debate. He was absent through injury in South Africa so will be chomping at the bit to add to his eight tries this season.

Benito Masilevu, Fiji: A hooker but joint-top in the season's try-scoring list with 17 alongside Samisoni Viriviri, Masilevu has often been towards the top of the "7s DreamTeam" nominee lists, unfortunate to have missed out on the final selections so far.

His try against New Zealand in the semi-final in Dubai was only beaten to the fans' favourite try of that tournament by teammate Emosi Mulevoro's effort.

Under the guidance of new head coach Ben Ryan, Masilevu seems to be performing to the best of his abilities, not going unnoticed with comment coming in from the likes of Mike Friday and Ben Gollings.








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