Super Rugby round 12 team of the week
May 7, 2013
JJ Engelbrecht enjoyed a whale of a game against the Hurricanes © Getty Images
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)
After Friday night, we thought only a top-shelf performance could oust Gareth Anscombe from the fullback spot; Folau produced just that in Port Elizabeth. He cut the Southern Kings apart from the first minute, and was largely responsible for the game being over as a contest inside 25 minutes. Playing with massive confidence, and the Waratahs are getting used to his speed, offoads, and ability to beat the tackle. He is looking more and more confident every week, and looks to be a Wallabies certainty after just 10 games of rugby.
14. Cam Crawford (Waratahs)
The big winger has been something of a revelation since earning his first start for the Tahs a few weeks ago, and he jagged a hat-trick of tries before half-time against the Kings. Might finally be living up to the talent he showed glimpses of while at the Brumbies, and he has been a more than useful replacement for the injured Drew Mitchell.
13. JJ Engelbrecht (Bulls)
He took an intercept to score the first Bulls try and set the tone for the Hurricanes clash in Pretoria, and was a constant threat in attack, either by cutting back on the angle or straightening the lateral runners of the Bulls. He showed a nice touch of class, too, in checking on the state of Conrad Smith after the Canes captain was knocked out in an awkward tackle attempt.
12. Jean de Villiers (Stormers)
The Springboks captain only last week, was speaking in hopeful tones when he said that he'd love the chance to play for his country again in 2013; he proved on Friday night why ignoring him would be sheer madness. Scored the vital try to get the Stormers back in the hunt, and was one of few Stormers backs to ask questions of the Blues defenders all night.
11. Digby Ioane (Reds)
It's probably no surprise that he produced just about his best game of the year in his first match after finalising and securing his immediate future in rugby (he announced a deal with Stade Francais last week). This felt like it was the first game where we saw him really unleash his pace and ability to beat defenders, too. A disappointing loss for 2014, but a welcome return to form in 2013.
10. Dan Carter (Crusaders)
Started a little slowly against the Brumbies in Canberra, but he was instrumental in the Crusaders' fightback, and ultimately the well-deserved victory. Played a lot flatter than in recent times, but it put the Crusaders on the front foot regularly. And just another blemish-free day off the kicking tee, too.
9. Will Genia (Reds)
In a match where the 11-all scoreline was a fair reflection of how committed both Queensland Reds and Western Force were in defence, Genia stepped his game up to another level after injury forced Reds captain James Horwill off at half-time. Genia confirmed his class in steering the Reds around the park, where the Force had done a reasonable job in closing down Quade Cooper. Has a happy knack of taking the right option under pressure, and will be a vital cog if the Wallabies are to find success against the British & Irish Lions.
8. Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
Captaincy seems to be agreeing with the big, mobile backrower, and a new two-year deal to stay in Melbourne suggests Higginbotham is happy with his lot. He is fast returning to his best form, and led the Rebels' fightback against the Chiefs on Friday night superbly.
7. George Smith (Brumbies)
Surpassed George Gregan to become the Brumbies most-capped player, and proceeded to put on just another typical openside masterclass in a well-beaten side. Won turnovers, held up tries, was literally in everything in his record 137th Super Rugby match. Only paperwork will stop him adding to his Wallabies tally now, too.
6. Steven Luatua (Blues)
When opposition players are suggesting on social media that it can't be long before Luatua wears the "Black Jersey", you get a handle on just how highly regarded the Blues blindsider is. Had an absolute cracker of a game against the Stormers; brutal and brusing in defence, and a running and offloading game in attack that might be unrivalled among other forwards currently.
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
Had a moment early in the game in Canberra when a lineout call to himself was intercepted, but then proceeded to wreak havoc on the Brumbies lineout for the rest of the game - winning a steal for himself and otherwise being a general nuisance for Brumbies hooker, Stephen Moore.
4. Hugh Pyle (Rebels)
The young lock has just recently re-signed with the Rebels for another two years, and has had a noticeable lift in form since. When he's running wide and offloading in attack, the Rebels are generally playing with confidence. Consistency is his next big challenge.
3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
Surprisingly mobile for such a big boy, and near impossible to stop once he gets on a roll, as Rebels scrum-half Nick Phipps will attest. Has excellent hands to go with his size, and he's the literal immovable object at scrum time. We're just glad we don't have to feed him.
2. Heath Tessmann (Force)
Has found a purple patch of form for the Perth side in the recent month, and he led the way in his pack being more than up to the task against the Reds - a side he couldn't crack for a start. Does have a few issues at lineout time, but otherwise plays a very solid, yet creative game.
1. Dean Greyling (Bulls)
Simply sensational against the Hurricanes, single-handedly demolished their scrum, and was immense around the field for his 51 minutes of sheer quality. Got a try to boot, and everyone loves the sight of the big men getting over the line.
Notable mentions: Gareth Anscombe (Chiefs fullback), Ben Smith (Highlanders fullback), Kyle Godwin (Force inside centre), Chris Noakes (Blues flyhalf), Deon Stegmann (Bulls openside), Sam Wykes (Force lock), James Slipper (Reds prop).
Which players caught your eye in Super Rugby round 12? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics
Salary caps, Saints, sinners and scrums - Monday Maul looks back at the key talking points from an eventful weekend
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14