Super Rugby round 11 team of the week
April 29, 2013
Bryan Habana made the pivotal play in Palmerston North © Getty Images
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)
The Waratahs fullback produced yet another dynamic attacking performance, and is now showing the rugby league offloads that made him such a damaging threat in the NRL. Now seems certain to be involved against the British & Irish Lions, subject to full fitness.
14. Gio Aplon (Stormers)
The diminutive winger looked dangerous every time he got involved against the Hurricanes, with his try the icing on a performance that featured linebreaks as well as sound defence.
13. Rene Ranger (Blues)
Made five linebreaks and dished off three offloads as he provided much of the thrust in the Blues' attack in Brisbane, and he's surely a front-runner for selection in the All Blacks' team against France.
12. Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies)
Excelled outside Matt Toomua, directing much of the brilliant Brumbies attacks against Western Force, and he may yet play for Australia against the British & Irish Lions if Robbie Deans wants a second five-eighth rather than a crash-ball runner at inside centre.
11. Bryan Habana (Stormers)
He was generally disappointing on his return to the team, making an unfeasible five individual mistakes, but you can't look past his game-deciding effort to charge down a conversion on the stroke of half-time. As a trivia question, when was the last time you saw a conversion charged down? It's the one-percenters that count, in AFL parlance.
10. James O'Connor (Rebels)
His missed kicks ultimately cost the Rebels in Christchurch, but he was monumentally good on attack - making a number of searing linebreaks, sparking a previously moribund backline and showing great footwork and strength in his try-scoring move. Chris Noakes then Matt Toomua previously looked to have a lock on selection this week, but James O'Connor was brilliant in a losing cause.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
Showed why he is regarded so highly in New Zealand, and his break in the first half was one of the individual highlights of the weekend.
8. Lubabalo Mtembu (Sharks)
"Tera" Mtembu is not a name widely recognised in Australiasia, but he announced himself in some style with his try-scoring performance against the Chiefs. Strong in the loose and in defence, he did just enough to gain our selection instead of Scott Higginbotham.
7. Daniel Braid (Blues)
Dominated the breakdown as the Blues did everything but win in Brisbane, and provided key link play between the forwards and backs.
6. Jarrod Saffy (Rebels)
Absent from the Rebels team for much of this season, he produced a monumental performance alongside Scott Higginbotham as the visitors threatened the shock of he round. Much like the Rebels, he now has to back up his efforts in the coming weeks. He was just one of a number of blindsides who could have been selected this week, not least Brad Shields, Derick Minnie and Steven Luatua.
5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
Quite probably was the best player on the pitch in Hamilton as the Chiefs regained winning ways; doubtful they would have done so without him.
4. Flip van der Merwe (Bulls)
The Waratahs were perhaps unfortunate to lose in Pretoria; that they did was down in part to the efforts of this man in the lineout and in the trenches.
3. Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
Played only 20 minutes off the bench, but he was a beast while on the field and the Stormers monstered the Hurricanes in the set pieces while he was playing.
2. Deon Fourie (Stormers)
Produced a tremendous effort, putting behind him previous horror shows at the lineout and playing much like a fetcher at the breakdown.
1. Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)
He played only 17 minutes off the bench, but the Crusaders scrum became a dominant weapon with him in the front row; that set-piece was vital as the hosts somehow got over the top of the Rebels.
Who caught your eye in Super Rugby round 11? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.
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