15. Gareth Anscombe (Chiefs)
It was difficult not to choose Piutau or O’Connor, but I felt that Anscombe deserved the nomination just that little bit more. He is a menace when he joins the line as he did when he scored his try and a very reliable goal kicker on top of that. The boy seems very determined to prove himself after his former team (Blues) opted to drop him.
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
At the rate this winger is scoring tries, it is hard to see anybody removing him from this spot any time soon. Courtesy of a well-organised backline, with the ball going wide quickly, the boisterous flyer gets himself in perfect positions to cross the whitewash time after time.
13. René Ranger (Blues)
The bigger, faster and stronger than ever outside centre seems to be loving life at the moment. He is full of running, very aware of supporting runners to make those little offloads and nobody really gets past him, even when they do.
12. Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs)
Although the Cheetah inside back ended up on the wrong side of a cricket score, he was quite instrumental in his team’s ability to hold the Chiefs out for the better part of the match and attacked the line with purpose when he didn’t move it out wide.
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
He must still be scratching his head in wonderment as his team failed to finish any of their moves while they were camped out in the Reds 22 for the last 30 minutes of the match. Savea never gave up and his sheer inability to surrender merits a place in this team.
10. Morné Steyn (Bulls)
The Bulls’ pivot seems to be getting more and more confident with every match and playing with added vision. Although he spoiled his perfect season record, he was running the ball more often and got his backline away faster, not to mention his own linebreak that put him over the try-line in the corner.
9. Brendan McKibbin (Waratahs)
Here you have a halfback whose primary concern is to get the basics done. He promptly clears the rucks, feeds his backline well and has a keen eye for a gap. On top of all that, he kicks the goals for the Tahs, a feature of his that improves with every game.
8. Kieran Read (Crusaders)
A lone crusader in team notorious for their slow starts to the Super Rugby season. Canterbury’s captain did everything in his power to motivate his teammates and lead from the front, they just didn’t follow.
7. Luke Braid (Blues)
Put his body on the line to keep his All Black counterparts out of the game and defended like someone possessed. Braid has found that he likes running with the ball and made offloads that would even put a smile on SBW’s face.
6. Arno Botha (Bulls)
This youngster is making sure he’ll be hard to ignore when the Bulls’ first choice back-rowers return to fitness. Since coming onto the field the previous weekend, he has proven to be tough to stop and a threat to the opposition’s lineouts. He runs the ball hard and rarely slips a tackle.
5. Rob Simmons (Reds)
A tower of strength in the lineout, the Reds lock kept busy all around the park and made some storming runs. He is big and hard to stop close to the line as he proved when he picked up a ball from a ruck and simply forced the opposition out of his way to pocket a five-pointer.
4. Flip van der Merwe (Bulls)
In the absence of the formidable Bakkies Botha and under the tutelage of former teammate Victor Matfield, the second rower is becoming a remarkable force of his own. He is a strong ball carrier, defends well and terrorises opponents’ line-outs.
3. Ben Afeaki (Chiefs)
Continued his good form from the previous week with another noteworthy performance. This block of a man was the anchor that helped his pack disrupt the Cheetahs’ scrum and showed some great skill when he picked a ball that was charged down up off his toes, tip-toed along the sideline and flopped over the line for his reward.
2. Deon Fourie (Stormers)
A hooker with the all-round ball skills of a fetcher. The Stormers had a much improved line-out performance as Fourie this time around found his jumpers more regularly. In a match that was dominated by kicks, one didn’t hear his name that often, but he surely made his presence felt with some stomping runs, deadly tackles and turn-overs.
1. Benn Robinson (Waratahs)
Michael Cheika would be happy to see that his “running rugby” mantra is not just taking shape amongst the backs, as some excellence was also shown by the forward pack, with Robinson especially impressive. He ran the ball up and pushed through the defense on more than one occasion, and the big prop really played his heart out.
by Jackie Smit