Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: June 22 2015

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Now that the dust has settled following the Super Rugby play-off weekend, we select the players that stood out from the crowd.

Impressive performances from the Highlanders and Brumbies mean that they dominate our weekly XV after seeing off the Chiefs and Stormers respectively.

Two mouth-watering semi-finals await.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Qualifying Finals

15 Ben Smith (Highlanders): On paper, Smith has the worst stats in his position this week, with both the full-backs in Cape Town scoring tries, but his influence on the game in Dunedin was key. Can you remember the last time Smith made an error? Faultless under the high ball, incisive on attack – class.

14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders): A try in each half saw the newly called up All Black move above Jeff Wilson's franchise record of 10 tries in a season. Magic happens whenever he touches the ball.

13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders): A relatively quiet weekend for outside centres but Fekitoa was easily the best 13 with plenty of ground gained with ball in hand. 

12 Damian de Allende (Stormers): The Stormers' best player by some distance, De Allende made four excellent breaks and beat 12 defenders. A place in the Springbok World Cup squad beckons. 

11 Joe Tomane (Brumbies): A hat-trick in 25 minutes silenced the crowd at Newlands. He had plenty of work to do for all three chances, but he took them well. Dillyn Leyds won't enjoy watching replays of the big hand-off for try number three. 

10 Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders): Little did he know what a weekend was in store for him. An impressive all-round performance against the Chiefs as he contributed fourteen points in victory on Saturday. His excellent cross-kick for the disallowed Patrick Osborne score was just the start of a classy day at the office for Sopoaga, who on Sunday was then included in New Zealand's 41-man training squad. A deserved call-up.

9 Aaron Smith (Highlanders): The showing of the weekend? He must be pushing Tomane hard for the honour as Smith was outstanding in Dunedin as he caused the Chiefs so many problems with ball in hand. His speed at the breakdown, slick service and ability to fix defenders until the perfect time before releasing his team-mates sets him apart from anyone in world rugby right now. Naholo will no doubt thank him for the assists.

8 Ita Vaea (Brumbies): It's great to see Vaea even playing rugby, let alone this well, after his health problems in the past. The Brumbies number eight was a rock at Newlands on Saturday as he caused the Stormers plenty of problems, which resulted in him scoring a key try.

7 David Pocock (Brumbies): Yet another powerful display from the Wallaby as he highlighted the absence of Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen by feasting on the Stormers at the breakdown. His turnover led to Vaea's score as he gets in our XV ahead of Highlanders flank Dan Pryor. Australia surely has to start him alongside Michael Hooper although our next selection might have something to say about that.

6 Scott Fardy (Brumbies): He saw yellow in the dying minutes but Fardy was all over the park, making a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown. He was also the main target at lineout time. Fardy's ability to play in both the second and back rows make him a valuable asset for both club and country. 

5 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): Stood out in defeat for the Chiefs as Retallick scored their only try in the second half. The 2014 World Player of the Year has had a stop-start season through injury but his class showed again in Dunedin. Made eight tackles and won six lineouts, with plenty of big games to come in 2015.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): A big weapon with the ball in hand for the Cape Town franchise as they crashed out of the tournament, but Etzebeth can be proud of his efforts. Seven big runs were complimented by five lineout takes as the Springbok imposed himself on the contest.

3 Josh Hohneck (Highlanders): After a season in which he’s been one of the most penalised props in Super Rugby, Hohneck was on top form against the Chiefs with the Highlanders racking up 11 scrum wins to disrupt the flow of their opponents. Nine tackles also from the big number three.

2 Stephen Moore (Brumbies): Leads by example week in and week out – if any Brumbies players have doubts about going to Wellington and defeating the Hurricanes, Moore will show them the way. Seven tackles in Cape Town along with a steady hand at the lineout and a couple of runs for the Wallaby hooker.

1 Scott Sio (Brumbies): A powerful short-range drive from Sio bumped up the Brumbies lead at Newlands as the loosehead reminded us all of what an effective weapon he can be with ball in hand. Chipped in with six tackles as the Canberra-based franchise booked their trip to Wellington.

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