Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: July 11 2016

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

The Crusaders feature heavily in our line-up after their impressive win over the Rebels. Read on to see who made the cut and be sure to comment below.

15 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs): Quality again from the nimble footed full-back as he tore the Reds to pieces at times on Friday. Two tries and eight go-forwards, his only blemish was three missed kicks at goal. Meanwhile, Ben Smith was his usual high quality self in Buenos Aires as he dived over for their opening try. Mark your diaries for this Saturday when this pair face off at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

14 Johnny McNicholl (Crusaders): A hat-trick for a wing who is enjoying his best year to date in Crusaders colours. It is a shame for New Zealand rugby that McNicholl moves on to the Scarlets at the end of this season as if he could continue to grow as a player on home soil then maybe international honours would eventually come. Sees off Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk and Blues finisher Matt Duffie.

13 Seta Taminavalu (Chiefs): Another solid performance from the All Black centre as he powered over for two tries against a poor Reds side. Ryan Crotty came close to this spot but Tamanivalu edged him as his and the Chiefs' season goes from strength to strength.

12 Piers Francis (Blues): Earning heaps of praise in New Zealand at the moment as he is acting as the perfect foil for Ihaia West at inside centre. Francis is an intelligent player and is surely turning heads of Premiership clubs back home in England. Rohan Janse Van Resnburg was impressive once again for the Lions but Francis was a level up against the Brumbies, with his goal-kicking also excellent.

11 Courtnall Skosan (Lions): The flyer had a blinder in a one-sided win over the Kings in Johannesburg. Skosan gained 84 metres with ball in hand, beating four defenders, with two offloads and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. He also proved his versatility as he won a turnover at the breakdown and beats out Jamba Ulengo of the Bulls.

10 Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders): The young pivot channeled the brilliance of demigod Dan Carter when he got the ball at pace, bounced a Rebels defender before side stepping another and then giving a 20 metre pass for Matt Todd to set up one of Ryan Crotty's tries. He was also excellent from the tee as he slotted seven conversions. Comes in ahead of Hurricanes stalwart Beauden Barrett.

9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes): The All Blacks did well in his side's triumph over the Waratahs and impressed with his slick service from the base, allowing Beauden Barrett plenty of space to work with. The nippy scrum-half impressed on attack, gaining 48 metres and kicked with precision to keep the Waratahs on the back-foot.

8 Facundo Isa (Jaguares): Steven Luatua caught the eye for the Blues with two try assists against the Brumbies but Isa was a one-man wrecking ball against the Highlanders on Saturday. Such a powerful ball carrier, he reminds us of France talisman Louis Picamoles.

7 Matt Todd (Crusaders): The Crusaders tearaway performed his loose-forward responsibilities in a resounding manner as he made 16 tackles against the Rebels. But the Christchurch native went above and beyond the call of duty as he also made eight passes, one of them setting up Ryan Crotty for a five pointer. He also resembled a centre as he broke the line after hitting a great gap, then sending a Rebels defender to the change room with a dummie before scoring a try himself. Bulls flanker Lappies Labuschagne also deserves a mention.

6 Jerome Kaino (Blues): Despite picking up a yellow card Kaino had a great day at the office to spark a Blues renaissance. The All Black bruiser crossed for two tries but also shone in defence, making nine tackles showing the veteran's still got it. The Hurricanes' Brad Shields and Elliot Dixon of the Highlanders also impressed.

5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders): Delivered a fine effort in his 100th appearance for the seven-time champions in their rout against the Rebels in Christchurch. Whitelock impressed as a ball carrier, gaining 31 metres from one clean break with three defenders beaten and one offload. Also did well in the defence, making nine hits.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): Makes our team for the second successive week after a superb effort at the coalface of his team's forward effort in wet conditions against the Western Force in Perth. Etzebeth dominated the line-outs, winning nine balls, and also did his bit in defence with eight tackles.

3 Vincent Koch (Stormers): Just like Etzebeth, the Saracens-bound prop did his core duties well in Perth and delivered a big shift in Perth. The Bok front-row impressed in the scrums and put his body on the line in defence with nine tackles, some of them which were felt in the stands. Siua Halanukonuka also did well for the Highlanders in Buenos Aires.

2 Ash Dixon (Highlanders): Crusaders' number two Cody Taylor deserves a mention after scoring two tries against the Rebels but Dixon makes our team after a fine all-round performance against the Jaguares. Dixon was at the forefront of the champions' forward effort and caught the eye with his accurate throw-ins at the line-out. Edges out Nathan Harris of the Chiefs.

1 Tshego Nche (Cheetahs): The rookie front-row was outstanding in the scrums, and completely dominated his direct opponent, Coenie Oosthuizen, which resulted in the Springbok being replaced as early as the 46th minute. Nche also impressed in defence with a handful of tackles, especially around the fringes of the rucks and mauls.

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