Every year uncovers new exceptional attacking talent, and it’s the sidesteps that end up on most highlight reels. The players with the hot feet have instantly become stars in the past, with Nehe Milner-Skudder in 2015 being the prime example. A number of players young and old showed their dance moves this season, so we thought we would count down the best of them.
Here are the top 10 steps of the Super Rugby season.
10. Tate McDermott (Reds)
The young Reds halfback mainly spent his debut season coming off the bench. Often the smallest man on the field, that didn’t stop McDermott providing the Reds some attacking spark.
In their first clash of the season against the Rebels in Melbourne, McDermott picked up a loose lineout ball and had a dart, throwing this dirty hop step that left Rebels prop Sam Talakai diving into a swimming pool. Unfortunately for Talakai, he didn’t take McDermott with him. The young halfback kept his balance and popped a pass away to Alex Mafi to open up the Rebels.
9. Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
The Sharks fullback Curwin Bosch had a breakout year in 2018, igniting the Sharks attack with speed from the back.
His dangerous running had most teams on high alert everytime he touched the ball on counter-attack, and this was certainly the case on this kick return against the Hurricanes.
Bosch pulled down the kick, escaping the first tackle before bouncing off the left foot to beat centre Vince Aso on the inside and then doing the reverse to fullback Jordie Barrett off the right. Jordie was left wondering where he was like a 5am feed in a strangers house.
Bosch’s double whammy was one of the best of season. Unfortunately, he didn’t score but the Sharks scored a couple of phases later to capitalise on the explosive break.
8. Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves)
In Round 8 at home against the Waratahs, Masirewa finished this movement off from a Waratahs turnover by putting the Tokyo drift on Wallaby Kurtley Beale. Masirewa escapes an ankle tap from Naiyavoro and races away to score under the posts with a massive swan dive.
7. Stephen Perofeta (Blues)
The Blues young flyhalf Stephen Perofeta came off the bench twice on the tour of South Africa and returned as the starting 10 for the rest of the season. His flair on attack sparked two Blues second-half comebacks, earning the trust of Tana Umaga and the Blues coaching staff.
Against the Stormers in Cape Town, Perofeta gave Siya Kolisi a taste of the Newlands turf with this ankle breaker. The Stormers captain will think twice about rushing the young playmaker after being nonchalantly discarded with a big left foot step.
One grass-fed steak minus the steak for Mr. Kolisi.
6. Waisake Naholo (Highlanders)
The Fijian-born All Blacks winger was damaging all year down the right-hand side for the Highlanders but nothing illustrated his worth more than this move he worked in a tight five-metre channel against the Stormers.
Naholo puts the left-foot shimmy on his opposite number before shedding a further two tacklers down the sideline. He unselfishly provides inside to Aaron Smith despite being able to score himself in the corner, just so the Highlanders can score closer to the posts.
Admittedly, Stormers winger Raymond Rhule is not renowned for his defensive work which prevents this piece of play from ranking higher. All things considered, it was still one of the best steps of the year.
5. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
The Crusaders first five keeps himself out of trouble with some of the smartest footwork in the competition.
Against the Stormers early in the season, Mo’unga scored this magic try stepping back off the right foot twice to leave three defenders stuck in concrete. The massive hole left by an overcommitted defensive line gave him an easy stroll over the line, but the explosiveness off the right foot and sharp change of the direction puts this play right up there.
He would, unfortunately, break his jaw late in this match which saw him miss four weeks of action but he returned to keep the Crusaders machine rolling to a first place regular season finish.
4. Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
Bosch’s second appearance on the list comes from this electric kick return against the Highlanders.
The Sharks speedster scored extra points for turning this opportunity into five points by linking with flyhalf Robert Du Preez who finished the movement. Bosch sizes up Naholo perfectly and gets him with the big left foot step before ripping through the rest of the Highlanders forward pack.
3. Filipo Daugunu (Reds)
The ex-Fijian goalkeeper made his debut for the Reds in 2018 after impressing in club rugby last year. He struggled at times in defence but there is no questioning his attacking firepower after this 95-metre try in the dying stages against the Stormers.
Daugunu basically took Raymond Rhule’s soul with this deadly right foot step at full speed.
If this was a match-winning try right on full time it would be straight to number one on this list. Even though it was a special moment, the game was already out of reach for the Reds.
2. Akihito Yamada (Sunwolves)
Not many players skin Wallbies fullback Israel Folau down a five-metre corridor, which is why this goose step gets the number two spot on this list.
Japanese winger Akihito Yamada is a known speedster in the Japanese Top League, scoring tries by the bucketloads for the Panasonic Wild Knights. Yamada was a standout of the Sunwolves first Super Rugby season, finishing as the competition’s top try scorer but he wasn’t included in the squad for the next season.
He was used sparingly this season but this moment of pure class shows why they need him.
1. Damian Willemse (Stormers)
There was one player who consistently showed outstanding footwork all season long, and that was whiz kid Damian Willemse.
The Stormers young flyhalf’s running game is his clear strength, using his explosive footwork to open up teams and fire late offloads. It was hard to separate just one moment, but this break against the Lions was right up there. He straightens to cut through the defence before putting on a trademark right step against the fullback. Seemingly stuck in traffic, Willemse finds a way to keep running, only to be brought down just short of the line.
At just 20 years of age, there will be plenty more dazzling runs from the young South African. After just two seasons of Super Rugby, he takes the crown as RugbyPass‘s best stepper in Super Rugby.
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