Super Rugby round 15 team of the week
May 28, 2013
Nic White produced an immense performance in Auckland © Getty Images
As I mentioned yesterday in Scrum Five, it was very tempting just to slot the Chiefs' XV into numbers 1-15 for Team of the Week, such was their impressive all-over performance against the Crusaders. Have your say on the players I did select by leaving a comment at the foot of the page, or by tweeting me @BMcSport using the #ScrumFive and #TotW hashtags.
15. Jason Woodward (Melbourne Rebels)
A wonderful, wonderful game from the former Wellington Lions fullback, and it's clear his growing comfort within the Rebels side is bringing out the confidence in his play. He was a constant threat against the Waratahs on Friday night, and made the crucial line break that led to the match-winning try.
14. Tom English (Melbourne Rebels)
Speaking of said match-winning try, the young Rebels winger, fresh from a signing a contract extension for the next two seasons, dotted down. English represents everything that's working for the Rebels: young players, confident in their ability, and prepared to have a crack. English was excellent, the major benefactor of the Rebels' desire to play with width.
13. Johann Sadie (Cheetahs)
The Cheetahs were the only side to register the four-try bonus point in round 15, and Sadie scored two of them and had a hand in another. He made some wonderful breaks from subtle changes of angle, and showed good pace once in the clear, too.
12. Kyle Godwin (Western Force)
Godwin finally wins the inside centre spot after featuring in my notes for two of the previous three TotW selections. He produced a truly outstanding performance in Perth on Saturday night, and against no less a player than All Blacks No.12 Ma'a Nonu. Godwin could well be the best defensive centre in Australia, but he is also a marvellous attacking player with excellent vision and superb patience. If the Force were wondering who to pin the future of the club to after the departure of James O'Connor, this is the kid to whom youngsters in Perth will flock.
Kings 22 - 34 Cheetahs (video available only in Australia)
11. Willie Le Roux (Cheetahs)
He swapped wings from last week, and seemed to be running more in the centres than at fly-half - as has been the case in recent weeks - but it was an otherwise typically excellent Willie le Roux display against the Kings. Bagged another try, too, but it seems a rare week that he doesn't.
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
I said yesterday in Scrum Five that it was hard to separate any outstanding Chiefs from an excellent display by the entire side, but Cruden was one of those to shine just that little bit brighter. He's certainly the heir apparent to Dan Carter - whom he overshadowed on Friday night - and it's already interesting to hear New Zealand commentators openly talking of Cruden pushing Carter to second-five for the All Blacks.
9. Nic White (Brumbies)
Obviously motivated by his snubbing at the hands of Wallabies selectors in naming their initial 25-man squad to face the British & Irish Lions (in which only one scrum-half was named), White led the way for the Brumbies through his kicking game and superb passing that just begs to be run onto. Scored a very clever opportune try, and had his ribcage realigned by Rene Ranger as well. A big night for him in the wet in Auckland.
8. Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels)
Greg Martin said during the Fox Sports commentary on Friday night that "Higginbotham has done everything bar man the ticket booth"; he really did have that sort of game. He's not just adjusted to the Rebels captaincy and playing No.8, he's flourished in both roles. And he's the perfect player to lead the young Rebels into the future.
Rebels 24 - 22 Waratahs (video available only in Australia)
7. Scott Fuglistaller (Melbourne Rebels)
I have to admit that I'd really not noticed Fuglistaller until recently, because he's one of those players who don't necessarily feature a lot in match commentary. Friday night against the Waratahs was no different, but Fuglistaller was probably the cause whenever there was a major breakdown moment for the Rebels. If you were like me, and hadn't seen much of him, he's really worth watching closely.
6. Liam Messam (Chiefs)
Messam produced a typically high-quality game, and he was a major factor in why the Crusaders weren't really able to get any breakdown traction. Here's some numbers: 10 passes, nine runs, one offload, three turnovers, 16 tackles; all of them top notch.
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
It's a measure of the contest between Whitelock and Brodie Retallick on Friday night that both have been typed, deleted, and retyped into the final XV for the round several times since Friday night. In the end, Whitelock got the nod on the grounds of his lineout pressure (including one steal), but cruelly a broken finger suffered during the game is set to keep out of the June internationals.
4. Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Played a starring role as the Brumbies dominated the set-pieces, and he was a particular nuisance to the Blues at lineout time. Fardy is surprisingly agile and mobile for a big guy, and he gets through a mountain of work in both attack and defence.
Stormers 20 - 15 Reds (video available only in Australia)
3. Brok Harris (Stormers)
A tackling machine, for a big bloke, with his 20 only beaten for the match by Stormers No.8 Nizaam Carr. He brought down everything in his vicinity wearing a red jersey, and caused a few problems for the Reds pack at scrum time, too.
2. Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
I don't mind admitting that I'm becoming something of an Adriaan Strauss fan, and he's just got better and better as the season rolls on. His Springboks appearances last year have really improved him, and he's odds-on to add to his Test tally in 2013. A really smart player, too, and a real "follow me" type of leader whom team-mates follow with great speed and energy.
1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs)
We were a bit disappointed at TotW this week that none of the well-proportioned gents could cross the stripe, but the sight of big Coenie charging into the Southern Kings still brought a smile to the face. He knows only one speed with the ball in his hand; as many a Kings defender found out, it's flat out.
Notable mentions: Ben Smith (Highlanders fullback), Jean de Villiers (Stormers outside centre), Rene Ranger (Blues outside centre), Tom Taylor (Crusaders inside centre), Morne Steyn (Bulls fly-half), Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs scrum-half), Colby Fainga'a (Brumbies opensider), Lappies Labuschagne (Cheetahs blindsider), Hugh Pyle (Rebels lock), Pek Cowan (Western Force prop).
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