As Eric Rush once said, “this is just one man’s opinion”. Please add your picks and your favourites in the feedback box below.
15 Dane Haylett Petty (Rebels)
Solid as a rock at the back as the Rebels beat the Reds and had some good yardage as he charged upfield. Will be a good battle with Kurtley Beale to see who will take the Wallaby fullback’s guernsey in the first test later this year.
14 Sevu Reece (Crusaders)
The Crusaders wing got the the upper hand in the battle of the pocket rockets with Rosco Speckman. A hat trick to show off a wide range of his skills; pace to finish, fast frantic feet in less space, then some good elevation in a jump to go over after some magic cross kicks form Mo’unga. Getting close to averaging 100 running metres per game. Henry Speight (Brumbies) was devastating in Canberra in one of those games where ehe couldn’t keep away form the ball.
13 Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)
Ran amok in the first 50 against the Sunwolves. Has danger written all over him on both sides of the ball.
12 Harold Vorster (Lions)
The inside centre was having his first start since round three and was all quality in the Lions win over the Waratahs. Can match the power of the other 12s in the South African franchises but Vorster has a deeper range; some silky stepping skills and canny distribution. Good impetus from the bench from Alex Nankiwell (Chiefs), awesome straight running that led to what might be try of the season.
11 George Bridge (Crusaders)
Second week in a row. Didn’t get tries on the board but his work rate was at an industrial scale. Popped up on the right wing as much as the left to use width as a weapon against the Bulls. Great decision in the lead up to Reece’s first try that didn’t look so flash when he wound his way across field but it all became clear when he linked up and the champs had a 5 on 2 out to the right. Also set up Dunshea’s try with a delicious line break.
10 Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
What can you say? The Crusaders had a plan that was a little like a bullfight. Run the Bulls around for 30 minutes (where they scored two tries from Mo’unga) then come in with the sword. The two tries they scored late in the first half were down to sheer exhaustion of the Bull’s defence.
9 Brad Weber (Chiefs)
The epitome of a gutsy little man, Weber never gives up and has some real pace to get from phase to phase but when someone makes a break he is invariably on the shoulder like a seagull after a chip. Two great tries in a much-needed victory over the Jaguares. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) was at his spoiling best against the Blues.
8 Elliot Dixon (Highlanders)
The rangy number 8 cracked 100 games for the franchise and has put a string of performances together that has kept Shannon Frizell on the bench. Good team man. Kieran Read (Crusaders) is finally firing on a few cylinders.
7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
The second week in a row where he has had to go trench warfare and curtail his free running antics for the good of his team. Zealously went about smashing Blues runners. Just a marvelous athlete who could play in the midfield at a pinch.
6 Kwagga Smith (Lions)
He is Africa’s answer to Savea. A talented athlete and a real competitor. So strong in the legs and he uses his strong base brilliantly at the breakdown. Jordan Taufua (Crusaders) added another level of confusion in the hunt for the AB 6 spot.
5 Tyler Ardron (Chiefs)
The Chief’s locks were giving away a lot of size in taking on the Sharks; Ardron and Mitchell Brown were not even as large as the South African loose forwards! Exposed at lineout time, they shone with their sheer work rate around the park. Ardron gets the gong for his last-minute scrag of the tail of Curwin Bosch’s jersey. If he hadn’t stalled the flyer it was probably game over for the Kiwis. Mitchell Dunshea showed similar qualities for the Crusaders. The try he scored down the left flank with the ball under the right arm showed some wingers up for technique.
4 Matt Philip (Rebels)
When his man is on song he looks every inch an international lock. Great work rate and line out skills. Also Rob Simmons from the Waratahs had a very good game running some strong lines on attack alongside his boiler room work. Ruan Botha (Sharks) is a huge lump of a man and provides great verve in the collision and at the ruck.
3 Alan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions)
What a powerful hooker, his presence in the scrum is intimidating for any opponents and his work in the tackle area is exemplary.
1 Atunaisa Moli (Chiefs)
Had a couple of hiccoughs with penalties at scrum time against Coenie Oosthuizen that he may debate but apart from that, he was a leading light for the Chiefs. He must be very close to the 5th propping spot for the Rugby World Cup.
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