Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: June 8 2015

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Now that the dust has settled after Round 17 of Super Rugby, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.

Two players picked up hat-tricks over the weekend and of course make our team while, despite drawing on home soil, a handful of Stormers are selected.

Just one regular-season round remains now but there is still plenty to play for as home semi-finals and jostling in the top six makes for a huge final week.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 17

15 Israel Folau (Waratahs): Back to his best in an open game in Bloemfontein. Folau scored a hat-trick and also set up two tries for the 'Tahs against the Cheetahs as he ghosted around would-be tacklers on many an occasion. He thoroughly enjoyed some sloppy defending from the home side.

14 Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes): A livewire whether on the wing or at full-back, teams have struggled to contain Milner-Skudder all season and it was the case again on Saturday. His step, burst and pass for Blade Thomson's score were sensational. He made 131 metres from 11 carries beating seven defenders.

13 Francois Venter (Cheetahs): Despite being on the losing side, Venter impressed with ball in hand as he has done all season. Two tries to his name against the Waratahs while he also got through a decent amount of work in defence. Unfortunately gaps elsewhere cost his side a shock win.

12 Charlie Ngatai (Chiefs): None of the inside centres delivered eye-catching performances so Ngatai gets in despite wearing the number 13 shirt against the Reds in Brisbane. Ngatai made 51 metres with ball in hand, thanks to three clean breaks, two defenders beaten and scored a try in the process. Also caught the eye with six tackles.

11 Dillyn Leyds (Stormers): Has certainly now made the step up from Varsity Cup rugby. Leyds was excellent against the Lions, offering so much going forward thanks to his willingness to back himself. While he only made 62 metres, he was a constant threat and deserves his spot in the XV.

10 Dan Carter (Crusaders): Fielding an inexperienced Blues outfit against Carter and the Crusaders always felt like a gamble and so it proved to be as the visitors racked up a big win, with Carter at the heart of it. His late form will be encouraging for Steve Hansen, as Carter finished with fourteen points and an assist.

9 Augustine Pulu (Chiefs): Continues to bang on the All Black door as while TJ Perenara was scoring twice for the Hurricanes against the Aaron Smith-less Highlanders, Pulu was again a physical yet intelligent performer in black. Two assists, ten carries and eleven tackles from the nine.

8 Victor Vito (Hurricanes): The Hurricanes were in a ruthless mood against the Highlanders in Napier and Vito was one of their star performers. The All Black was always a threat in attack, gaining 87 metres with one clean break, two defenders beaten and two offloads. Also proved a handy option at the tail of the line-out, winning four balls.

7 David Pocock (Brumbies): It's rare enough for a flanker to get one hat-trick in a season, but two is exceptional. Pocock's role at the tail of the Brumbies maul worked out perfectly last Saturday as he found his way to the line three times either directly or sniping around the fringes as the Brumbies pack overwhelmed the Force. He's in great form.

6 Liam Messam (Chiefs): Impressed with a superb all-round display against the Reds, who were highly motivated in James Horwill and Will Genia's final match for their franchise in Brisbane. Messam led his troops well as the Chiefs successfully negotiated a tricky hurdle. He made one clean break with two defenders beaten and scored a deserved try. Also stood out in defence with fourteen hits.

5 Luke Romano (Crusaders): One of the unsung heroes of the Crusaders' pack, Romano worked tirelessly at the coalface of the forward effort. Was rewarded with a try for his efforts and also did well in defence with six tackles and in the line-outs with a handful of takes at the set-piece.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): Peaking at just the right time for both franchise and country, as Etzebeth was his barnstorming best at Newlands. He galloped down the touchlines, showed grunt up the middle and was a rock in defence. It was fitting that as on the week Bakkies Botha retired from rugby, South Africa's successor to the enforcer role put in this performance. It is imperative that the Springboks have him fully fit this year.

3 Owen Franks (Crusaders): Did the business for his side as they comfortably overcame the Blues in Auckland. Replaced after 50 minutes but this All Black had done his job as a solid set-piece helped the Crusaders pick up the maximum point haul from Eden Park. Such a consistent performer.

2 Dane Coles (Hurricanes): The All Blacks number two delivered a busy shift in his side's demolition of the Highlanders. Coles crossed the whitewash for a deserved try and always looked dangerous in attack. Gained 33 metres with two clean breaks, three defenders beaten and two offloads but also impressed in defence with eight tackles.

1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers): Brilliant in all aspects against the Lions as noise loudens about him becoming a Springbok. The loosehead made six carries and all had bite, with Heyneke Meyer surely now set to use him in the lead-up to the World Cup. If he keeps this up, he'll be in England.

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