Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: April 7 2015

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

The Crusaders' big win over the Sharks and the Hurricanes holding off the Stormers played a part in our selection, while only one South African player makes the XV.

Super Rugby Team of the Week, Round 8

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)The livewire full-back couldn't be stopped by the Stormers when he got going. What makes Milner-Skudder so exciting to watch is his sudden burst of acceleration and it caught the visitors' defence out time and again. Did well to finish his try, added an assist and racked up 109 metres, beating six defenders. What a prospect. Just pushes out his compatriot and last week's full-back in our side, Israel Dagg.

14 Tom Marshall (Chiefs)Came to the fore with several surging runs in his side's win over the Blues in Hamilton. Marshall was a constant threat on attacks, gaining 104 metres with two clean breaks and five defenders beaten. Beats out the Blues' Frank Halai who also caught the eye in the same game.

13 Ryan Crotty (Crusaders): We've shifted Crotty out a spot after his great performance for the Crusaders in the Durban massacre. Crotty played his best game of the year, creating opportunities with his passing game while also crossing for one of the Crusaders' eight tries and beating three defenders with a couple of clean breaks. He beats the Stormers centre Huw Jones to this spot, despite the Edinburgh-born Englishman impressing after a late call-up to replace Juan de Jongh, while Henry Speight did well on a first start at 13.

12 Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies): Lealiifano delivered a fine all-round display as his side saw off the Cheetahs and he was rewarded with 15 points for his efforts via a try, two conversions and two penalties. Also impressed on attack, making two clean breaks and getting past five defenders in the process, not forgetting eight tackles. Comes in ahead of Damian de Allende of the Stormers who carried tirelessly.

11 Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels)Outrageous statistics and running from Naivalu meant that the Rebels winger stood out high above the rest after Friday's win over the Reds. Naivalu made 192 metres with the ball in hand – 192! – with five clean breaks, four offloads and beat five defenders. That's a great shift. Always looks hungry for work and the Rebels appear to have a real find on their hands in the 23-year-old Fijian.

10 Colin Slade (Crusaders): The Crusaders were rampant against the Sharks and Slade was at the forefront of the Christchurch-based outfit's demolition job. Got the best out of his outside backs but also crossed over for a fine solo try with a chip and chase over the napping defence. Kicked five conversions too. Gets the nod ahead of his All Blacks rival Beauden Barrett.

9 Andy Ellis (Crusaders)Hugely instrumental for the Crusaders, as Ellis scored a try of his own in only the third minute to get the Kiwis going before adding two more assists later on. Overall he made 67 metres running with the ball in hand which is great work for a scrum-half in his ninth season of Super Rugby. His combination with Colin Slade looks very solid indeed,

8 Duane Vermeulen (Stormers): Led from the front during his side's defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington. Vermeulen was a willing ball-carrier as ever, making 52 metres with three defenders beaten and two offloads – one of which was an assist to a try for Huw Jones. Set for another break, the Stormers are going to miss him in Sydney up against the Waratahs for sure. Mentions for Michael Leitch and Calum Gibbins, the latter making 26 tackles.

7 David Pocock (Brumbies): A first start following his return from injury for Pocock and he was relentless against the Cheetahs, making a big 14 carries and providing his usual expertise at the breakdown with a couple of turnovers. The former Wallaby captain also posted 11 tackles as his side secured their position at the top of the Australian Conference. Liam Gill did valiantly for the Reds with 20 tackles, but misses out.

6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes): Another impressive effort from one of the unbeaten Hurricanes' unsung heroes. Shields kept the defence busy in his side's triumph over the Stormers with 56 metres gained and one clean break, but also stood out on defence with 13 tackles along with winning five lineouts and providing an assist. An all-action effort that gets him ahead of Warwick Tecklenburg, Liam Messam and Sean McMahon.

5 Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes)Lions lock Franco Mostert impressed again as his side got over the line late on against the Bulls, but 'Canes second row Thrush takes this spot after making an eye-opening 24 tackles as they hold off the Stormers for victory to remain unbeaten. Offers a real threat with the ball in hand too, making eight carries. Heading to Gloucester in the Premiership at the end of the year.

4 Blake Enever (Brumbies): Enever made his first start for the Brumbies and delivered a robust shift at coalface of their forward effort against the Cheetahs. Was rewarded with a try for his efforts from close-range and was the men from Canberra's go-to man in the lineouts, winning nine balls at the set-piece. Gets in ahead of the once-again impressive Luke Jones from the Rebels.

3 Vincent Koch (Stormers)Another forward from the Stormers who stood out. Somewhat of a surprise star at tighthead prop in this year's competition, Koch was rock solid at the scrum against the Highlanders but the most impressive aspect of his game came with 15 carries, as he showed great energy in the loose. One for the Springboks to keep an eye on.

2 Pat Leafa (Rebels)A fitting reward for Leafa who has been one of the Melbourne-based side's most consistent performers this season. Leafa shone at doing his core duties against the Reds and was at the forefront of their forward effort which led to a deserved victory, while also making ten carries.

1 Scott Sio (Brumbies)Huge workload from Sio in the loose as he gave a brilliant runaway train impression on multiple occasions last Saturday. Sio has come on leaps and bounds this season with his scrummaging and he made some bruising runs against the Cheetahs, clocking up the metres and help set up the attack.

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