Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: July 1 2014

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to hand out praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round 17.

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to hand out praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round 17.

So without further ado, herewith our selection.

Super Rugby: Team of Round 17

15 Israel Folau (Waratahs) – It may seem incredibly harsh to cast aside another stellar display from the Highlanders' Ben Smith on his return to Super Rugby, but it's the cross-code colossus who gets our vote this week. Recovered in spectacular style after rival Jesse Mogg embarrassed him under the high ball to appear with menace in midfield, inexorably drawing in defenders and creating space for those outside him. Either that, or he took them on himself, the highlight one superhuman surge from 30 metres that almost resulted in a remarkable try. Beat nine tacklers and set up Alofa Alofa for his second try.

14 Richard Buckman (Highlanders) – Was mentioned by captain Nasi Manu in the post match interview for his defensive efforts and for a number eight to say that of a wing shows just how much work he puts in. Buckman gives everything each time he steps out onto the pitch and that was again evident on Friday as the former 'Cane stood out. He sees off Waratahs finisher Alofa-Alofa for this jersey, who finished off two tries well.

13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders) – This kid just gets better and better. Fekitoa has got the lot, and after taking an All Blacks debut in his stride, tore it up in Dunedin yet again. 58 metres made, two clean breaks, and four defenders beaten; just another day at the office for New Zealand rugby's hottest prospect. Ben Tapuai of the Reds deserves credit for his dangerous, strong-running offence in Melbourne as the visitors picked up a good win.

12 Ma'a Nonu (Blues) – It was a determined performance from Nonu and he was deserving of claiming the bonus-point score when he eased past two would-be tacklers en route to the line. Nonu looks fired up to finish the season strongly which is great news for the Blues.

11 Lachie Turner (Reds) – Called from the bench in the fifth minute when Dom Shipperley suffered an ankle injury, Turner took no time whatsoever to make his mark, scoring three minutes later before getting his second on 47 minutes. A mention for Patrick Osborne.

10 Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) – Surely he would be starting for any nation other than New Zealand? Without doubt the form fly-half playing in Super Rugby this year, Barrett was again a running threat for the Hurricanes as he sees off Lima Sopoaga and Bernard Foley.

9 Nick Frisby (Reds) – Outstanding in Melbourne as he led the Reds from the base, kicking very well for territory and scoring two tries to boot as the absence of Will Genia and Quade Cooper wasn't felt. He had the most runs with ball in hand which, for a nine, is impressive.

8 Wycliff Palu (Waratahs) – No spring chicken at 31 years of age, “Cliffy” continues to splinter defences thanks to his raw power and size. His team-mates place hefty value on his ability to get them on front foot and lay the platform for Folau, Kurtley Beale and company to play with charge after bruising charge. He made 20 carries on Saturday as the Waratahs thumped the Brumbies, beat three defenders and rounded things off with a super team try.

7 Luke Braid (Blues) – Despite needing shoulder surgery in the off-season, Braid was the top tackler in Perth with 20. It wasn't just his defence that made him stand out though as his carries and leadership were superb while he also scored. Mention for a busy Ardie Savea.

6 Steven Luatua (Blues) – Initially left out by Steve Hansen due to poor domestic form, Luatua played like a man with a point to prove as the Blues blitzed the Force in Perth. Formidable carries and rangy running in the wide expanses are his staple, but he also made a number of telling turnovers at the breakdown, as well as thirteen tackles.

5 Blade Thomson (Hurricanes) – Played most of the game at lock before moving to eight where he has played most of this season, Thomson was ultimately the difference in the game. Two tries, one in each half, saw him step well before showing pace for the second.

4 James Horwill (Reds) – His best performance of the season hands down. Horwill was a rock for the Reds as they dominated the Rebels, carrying the ball seven times, making fourteen tackles and also six line-outs as he looked as fresh as he has been in 2014.

3 Charlie Faumuina (Blues) – It wouldn't be over the top to class Faumuina's performance as possibly the best open field effort from a tighthead prop this Super Rugby season. He made six carries but all were threatening as the Force struggled to contain this All Black.

2 Dane Coles (Hurricanes) – Didn't have the best of Test series against England but was back in top form – as he has been all season – for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders. Consistently an option in open play and nine tackles to his name makes him our hooker.

1 Ben Franks (Hurricanes) – Franks made a habit of popping up all over the place for the 'Canes in Wellington, carrying well on top of his excellent work in the tight. Chipped in with an outstanding fifteen from fifteen tackle count, and even managed a clean break with the ball in his meaty grasp. A mention for the Waratahs' loosehead prop Benn Robinson, who bagged the opening try in Sydney and was similarly noticeable around the park.