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 Emiliano Boffelli (Jaguares)
It would have to be some performance to knock David Havili (Crusaders) off the top spot and it was. Christian Cullen-like in his ability to ghost in from the backfield off the shoulders of runners and his vision with ball in hand is awesome. Two tries for himself and setting up impressive right-winger Sebastian Cancelliere for one of his brace as the Jaguares took out the South African conference. On defence he is brave and always seems to be on the spot position wise in a kicking duel. Semi Masirewa (Sunwolves) remains one of the best watches in Super rugby with his unconventional play.
14 Sevu Reece (Crusaders)
Is now the competitions leading try-scorer at 13 as he collected three good finishes when the Crusaders marmalized the Rebels 66-0. The chip and chase try was the most impressive as his lighting quick reflexes ensured he snatched the ball after Reece Hodge couldn’t cope with a difficult bounce. Ben Lam (Hurricanes) was strong on the right wing in their win over the Lions, his two tries bringing his tally for the men in gold to 35 tries from 41 games.
13 Rob Thompson (Highlanders)
The centre seems to be getting back to top form as the Highlanders gave away a lead to let the Bulls in for their second draw in a fortnight. Powerful busts and breaks and always draws more than one defender. Jack Goodhue (Crusaders) was also a brilliant creator and tidy up man and Matias Moroni (Jagaures) was like a limpet at turnover time.
12 Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes)
I appreciate Laumape is trying to hone his kicking and passing game this season but there’s been four or five games this season where he seems to have adopted the mentality of being a bruising bulldozer and when he does that the Hurricanes always do well. A lot of it has to do with the pack getting good ball and they laid it on for the pumped up 2nd 5. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) in his 150th and Samu Kerevi (Reds) were inspirational leaders at 12 as well.
11 Brayden Ennor (Crusaders)
There’s talk that either Ennor or Reece may be the All Black bolters this year and after the pair’s performance this weekend Hansen may pick both of them for early tests. Ennor seems to have gained some pace and his commitment to making his plays count is admirable.
10 Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
This guy is a locksmith, he has no problem unlocking defences. He has got the attacking punt down to a fine art and any team who employs the rush defence will have to think twice when Mo’unga is at the tiller. He is so strong for a smaller guy as well; really surprises people on either side of a tackle. Josh Ioane (Highlanders) played with confidence; he will need it as rumour says he may be playing 10 in the All Black’s first test this season, if the Crusaders and Hurricanes make the final.
9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
TJ took a lot on his shoulders with the absence of Beauden Barrett, some of his kicking from first receiver was extraordinary. Was well in the ear of referee Jaco Peyper as well, guiding him wisely through some of the tighter decisions…… There was certainly no one-sided penalty count to the visitors, some may say they got the rub of the green.
8 Scott Higginbotham (Reds)
The local Queensland hero signed off on what could be his last game at Suncorp with the winning try against the hapless Blues. With one earlier in the match, Higginbotham became the first forward to breach 40 Super Rugby tries. Immensely physically talented, the French bound loosie remains an enigma at international level where his potential was never truly tapped. Jaco Coetzee (Stormers) was powerful in the Cape side’s victory over the Sunwolves with a brace as well.
7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
Ardie took it on himself to get one over Malcolm Marx and Manus Schoeman at the tackle as he was inserted into the game after halftime. Ardie was his usual indefatigable self getting through a load of work with ball in hand. There may be debate over the starting seven position in the national team but Savea has the number 20 jersey in his pocket for the rest of the year, without argument.
6 Jaco Coetzee (Stormers)
In the absence of a truly memorable performance by a blindside flanker this round, I’ll slot Coetzee in at six over his team mate Johan du Toit and bullocking Bull Hanro Liebenburg. Two tries and a zealous physical presence as usual. Liam Squire’s (Highlanders) first stanza in Super Rugby this season, while not outstanding, will be enough to keep the All Black selectors interested.
5 Marcos Kremer (Jaguares)
Kremer seems to be at home in the lock position and is forming a classy partnership with the taller Tomas Lavanini. His presence in the second row has improved the Jaguares scrum no end and when you follow Kremer in phase play you soon realise he hits every contact with brute power; he is the scariest 21-year-old tight forward going round in the Southern Hemisphere at the moment. Jackson Hemopo (Highlanders) has similar attributes.
4 Rory Arnold (Brumbies)
Good battle in the second row against the Waratahs where he came out on top. Has those long Retallick-like arms that came in handy stretching for tries and pilfering tackled ball. His performances in the next three-four weeks will be influential in Wallaby selection.
3 Alan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)
Ummed and aahed over this one. Taniela Tupou had a sterling game against the Blues as well with strong open field running but some poor discipline. Alaalatoa doesn’t look for so much oxygen, he is content to bury himself in the tight work. These two will make a great pair for the Wallabies this season and they will be looking to prove they can hold their own agains the Northern Hemisphere props.
2 Schalk Britz/Dane Coles (Bulls/Hurricanes)
A game of two halves for the hookers this week. Britz had a coruscating first half for the Bulls as he popped up all over the place. Then sadly he succumbed to injury and was off. Over in Joburg Dane Coles came out after the break with Ardie Savea and they formed a dynamic duo, pushing the Hurricanes advantage through to a strong win. Two tries to Cole and another reason the All Black selectors will be smirking. Folau Fainga (Brumbies) seems to be firming his position as Wallaby starting hooker and always good to see a rats-tail hair do in response to the plague of mullets going round.
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
Captained the Stormers to a tense victory over the Sunwolves. The Cape Town team put out a relatively inexperienced XV on the field and Kitshoff led from the front with his fellow front rowers Mbonami and Malherbe to lay a good platform.
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