Super Rugby: Team of the Year

Date published: August 7 2017

Now that the dust has settled on the last-ever 18-team Super Rugby campaign, we sat down and eventually settled on our Team of the Year.

As expected, New Zealand and South African players dominated the selection while there was one player from an Australian franchise who made the cut in this XV.

So without further ado, here's the line-up.

Super Rugby: Team of the Year

15 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs): What a phenomenal season from McKenzie who showed that dynamite definitely comes in small packages. The 22-year-old made the most carries (242), metres (1669), beat the most defenders (80) and made the second-most clean breaks (35) of anyone in the competition. Meanwhile, Lions' full-back Andries Coetzee came second behind McKenzie for carries (201) and metres made (1404).

14 Dillyn Leyds (Stormers): Leyds made 24 clean breaks, 1093 metres and scored 9 tries in a stellar season for the versatile back. Who could forget that unbelievable offload he produced against the Chiefs out the back door to set up SP Marais' try? Rieko Ioane deserves a mention for his 10 tries and 26 clean breaks and for being a shining light in an otherwise disappointing Blues' season which earned him two starts for the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions.

13 Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes): Despite playing most of the season at full-back, Barrett filled in at centre for Vince Aso during the play-offs. We just had to fit him in as he regularly stole the limelight from his older brother Beauden the season. Taking over the goal-kicking duties from his older brother, Barrett is fifth on the competition charts for most points with 135, including seven tries and he also made the most offloads of anyone with 33. Jack Goodhue (Crusaders) and Aso also deserve a mention. 

12 Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes): Laumape is the competition's top try-scorer for the season with 15 and has firmly established himself as one of world rugby's most fearsome strike runners. He also laid on numerous tries for Vince Aso, who scored 14 (second-highest) and the understanding developed between the two was literally telepathic at times. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) also deserves a mention.

11 James Lowe (Chiefs): Lowe tops the charts for clean breaks (40), is second for metres made (1355), third for offloads (31) and joint-third for tries (11). He will be sorely missed from Super Rugby as he heads off to Leinster. Meanwhile, South African duo Makazole Mapimpi (Kings) and  Courtnall Skosan (Lions) showed they are devastating finishers, bagging 11 and nine tries respectively. 

10 Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders): Mo'unga is sixth on the points-scorers' list with 133. But it was from open play he impressed the most. He has shown he has all the creativity and flair needed to spark a back-line as well as possessing tremendous pace, silky skills and an eye for a gap. Lionel Cronje (Kings) was instrumental to the Kings upsetting the odds this season. 

9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes): Perenara continues to enhance his reputation with many of the opinion that he should start ahead of Aaron Smith for the All Blacks. The nuggety scrum-half has an impressive skill-set and punches well above his weight, weighing in with more than his fair share of tackles and even steals. But most importantly, he is an inspirational leader, able to bring the best out of his team-mates. Ross Cronje (Lions) gets a mention.

8 Amanaki Mafi (Melbourne Rebels): The Japan internationaL made arguably the biggest impact of any debutant in this year's competition and was the standout performer in a struggling Rebels team. Mafi was superb with ball in hand and got his side over the gainline at will with some barnstorming runs. Eventually made the third most carries (196) in the competition and also finished tenth for metres gained (996). Nizaam Carr of the Stormers and the Kings' Andisa Ntsila also impressed.

7 Chris Cloete (Kings): Cloete was one of the Kings' stars during a memorable season for the Port Elizabeth-based side and his fine form has been rewarded after he signed a deal to join Munster later in the year. Cloete was particularly effective at the breakdowns, where he proved a real handful but he also caught the eye as a ball carrier and in defence. Beats out the Hurricanes' Ardie Savea and Stormers captain Siya Kolisi.

6 Jordan Taufua (Crusaders): This was a difficult choice as Jaco Kriel, who is actually an openside flank, also played well since moving to the other side of the scrum when Lions captain Warren Whiteley's season was ended by injury. But Taufua gets into our team after another impressive season with the champions. Put his body on the line in the tackle and was prepared to do the dirty work which allowed his more flashier team-mates to shine.

5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders): Another one of the Crusaders unsung heroes, Whitelock's leadership was one of the standout features of his team's successful campaign. Whitelock shone when executing his core duties and was at the forefront of the champions' forward effort. His calming presence also proved invaluable when the Crusaders secured several come-from-behind victories. Comes in ahead of the Lions' Andries Ferreira.

4 Franco Mostert (Lions): The Springbok was superb throughout the Lions' campaign and was arguably their best player during the competition. Mostert was his team's go-to-man in the lineouts and finished second highest for balls won at the set-piece (60) during the tournament. Also did his bit in defence and finished ninth in that department with 148 tackles which is the most by any Lions player. Brodie Retallick also played well for the Chiefs.

3 Ruan Dreyer (Lions): The Lions strongman was rewarded with Bok colours during their series against France in June after numerous impressive showings in the scrums for the men from Johannesburg. The Lions' run to the final was largely due to the superb platform which their forwards set up for their exciting backs and Dreyer was one of his side's stars in that aspect. 

2 Malcolm Marx (Lions): Another Springbok who played consistently well and who stole the show with his superb ball carrying ability. Similar to Bismarck du Plessis, in his approach to the game, Marx's form for the Lions has been transferred to Test level and he is currently the Springboks' first-choice hooker. Marx finished the season with 10 tries which puts him in joint fifth place for most tries scored in the tournament and his haul is the most for a forward in the competition. Edges out Codie Taylor of the Crusaders. 

1 Jacques van Rooyan (Lions): Caught the eye at the coalface of the Lions' forward effort especially during the play-offs when he shone as a ball carrier. Eventually scored three tries during the campaign and also caught the eye as a strong scrummager throughought the tournament. Cheetahs youngster Ox Nche also impressed.


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