All eyes are on Leinster and Glasgow in the countdown to Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 final at Celtic Park, but both finalists have been upstaged by quarter-final minnows Benetton in the list of Dream Team nominees for the season.
The 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 Dream Team is due to be revealed on Thursday night in a live TV broadcast Premier Sports 1 and eir sport 1 – and Kieran Crowley’s Italian side will be interested viewers.
In the list of the 45 players nominated for inclusion by a panel of more than 75 media who have covered the tournament, Benetton have scooped seven nominations, two more than Glasgow and four more than Leinster.
But for the concession of a last minute penalty in Limerick, Benetton would have faced Leinster in last Saturday’s semi-final in Dublin rather than being unlucky eliminated by Munster.
However, they will take great solace that their efforts on the pitch in reaching the knock-out stage of the tournament for the first time have not gone unnoticed.
? The nominees for the #GuinnessPRO14 Dream Team have been announced!
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) May 22, 2019
Four forwards – Epalahame Faiva, Marco Riccioni, Federico Ruzza and Braam Steyn – and three backs – Dewaldt Duvenage, Monty Ioane and Ratuva Tavuyara – have been nominated in a selection featuring 45 players from 11 of the 14 participating clubs. Not bad at all for the Italians following on from Crowley receiving the honour of being voted coach of the year.
GUINNESS PRO14 DREAM TEAM NOMINATIONS
Loosehead Prop: Dave Kilcoyne (Munster); Eric O’Sullivan (Ulster); Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh);
Hooker: Epalahame Faiva (Benetton Rugby); Rob Herring (Ulster); Ken Owens (Scarlets);
Tighthead Prop: Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby)
Second Row: Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby):
Second Row: Scott Fardy (Leinster); Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys);
Blindside Flanker: Max Deegan (Leinster); Peter O’Mahony (Munster); Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues);
Openside Flanker: Colby Fainga’a (Connacht), Braam Steyn (Benetton); Hamish Watson (Edinburgh);
No8: Marcel Coetzee (Ulster), Bill Mata (Edinburgh), CJ Stander (Munster);
Time to see if Monty Ioane and Benetton Rugby can take Munster down as he promised https://t.co/i4CcaWID4t
— liam heagney (@heagneyl) May 4, 2019
Scrum-Half: Caolin Blade (Connacht); John Cooney (Ulster); Dewaldt Duvenage (Benetton);
Out-half: Jack Carty (Connacht); Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors); Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh);
Left Wing: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh); James Lowe (Leinster); Rabz Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs);
Inside Centre: Bundee Aki (Connacht); Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues); Stuart McCloskey (Ulster);
Outside Centre: Tom Farrell (Connacht); Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues); Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors);
Right Wing: Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby); Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets); Ratuva Tavuyara (Benetton Rugby);
Full-Back: Dan Evans (Ospreys); Mike Haley (Munster); Matthew Morgan (Cardiff Blues).
WATCH: RugbyPass takes you behind the scenes at the 2018 PRO14 final in Dublin
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now