Now that the dust has settled, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out some praise to the star players of Super Rugby 2012.
Now that the dust has settled, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out some praise to the star players of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
15 Andre Taylor (Hurricanes): The Hurricanes scored 58 tries in 2012 and Taylor was responsible for many of them. With speed to burn, a quick turn of pace and a sidestep to match, Taylor scored 10 tries in 2012 and assisted in several more. Desperataly unlucky not to make the All Blacks squad, but at only 24-years of age 'Razor' has plenty of time to convince Steve Hansen otherwise.
Next best: Robbie Robinson (Chiefs)
14 JP Pietersen (Sharks): Made a slow start to the season and took some time to get into his groove in his new role of outside centre, but rediscovered his touch when moved back out wide where he would become the Sharks' most influential and dangerous backline player.
Next best: Willie Roux (Cheetahs)
13 Conrad Smith (Hurricanes): Took a lot on his plate after being appointed captain of a side that were written off by all in sundry before the season kicked off. However, the All Black centre led from the front in every match and brought back bucketloads of respect to the franchise as well as proving to be one of the competition's most valuable players in the process.
Next best:Tamati Ellisson (Highlanders)
12 Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs): All eyes were on the tournament's – arguably even the world's – highest profile player when the Chiefs' campaign got under way. And it's fair to say the former Crusaders midfielder became an instrumental part of the Chiefs' backline, where his creativity, vision and trademark offloads proved valuable assets all season. He has now won almost every trophy on offer in the southern hemisphere since his return to New Zealand, and, tellingly, has played a central role in each of those successes.
Next best: Ryan Crotty (Crusaders)
11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes): Often compared with rugby great Jonah Lomu, the powerfully built winger's strength and speed proved a constant threat down the left wing for the 'Canes. All Blacks selection came in the midst of some hot form, while his nine Super Rugby tries were second only to team-mate Andre Taylor (10).
Next best: Bjorn Basson (Bulls)
10 Aaron Cruden (Chiefs): Proved more often than not that he is fast evolving into a fly-half of the absolute highest quality. Cruden's vision and attacking play was outstanding, whilst his goal-kicking was near flawless – it was no surprise he finished the season as the leading points scorer (251). He regularly broke the line and helped sparked tries in broken play.
Next best: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs): This was decided by a flip of the coin. Tails was the call, and Kerr-Barlow makes the cut ahead of Will Genia. The 21-year-old livewire Chiefs halfback has had the benefit of operating behind a dominant pack most of the season but showed he could turn bad ball into good too. His energy on attack produced a lot of momentum and front-foot ball for the Chiefs, while his defence was generally solid.
Next best: Will Genia (Reds)
8 Kieran Read (Crusaders): Played a starring role for the Crusaders and was in scintillating form before a rib injury cruely cut short his campaign. The dynamic number eight, who's presence was sorely missed in the semi-final, also led the red and black army manfully in the absence of regular skipper Richie McCaw.
Next best: Keegan Daniel (Sharks)
7 Marcell Coetzee (Sharks): One of the finds of the season, Coetzee's rise to fame has remnants of an almost fairytale like quality after the 21-year-old's superb form was rewarded with a Test cap. At season's end, he's now a regular part of the Springbok set-up.
Next best: Michael Hooper (Brumbies)
6 Adam Thomson (Highlanders): We know Chiefs loose forward Liam Messam was perhaps the most popular choice following his stellar performances in the finals. But throughout the season, we just felt Thomson was more consistent of the two. Cue the hate mail…
Next best: Liam Messam (Chiefs)
5 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): Retallick's excellent line-out play coupled with strong ball running and big defence were invaluable assets to the Chiefs. It's no wonder he started nearly every match for the eventual Super Rugby winners.
Next best: Juandre Kruger (Bulls)
4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): A player earmarked for a big future, the young lock took his debut Super Rugby season by storm thanks to a series of eye-catching performances that paved the way for a deserved Springbok call-up. It's incredible to think he is still just 20…
Next best: Luke Romano (Crusaders)
3 Dean Greyling (Bulls): Ok, we know he's not a tighthead but the 120kg prop turned in several wholly committed performances for the Bulls and shades out Chiefs front-rower Ben Tameifuna. It was Greyling's try against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld that did it for us after he threw an audacious dummy on Israel Dagg before sprinting to the tryline, and of course finishing with a big dive.
Next best: Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
2 Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks): The Sharks rake made our Team of the Week more regularly than any other hooker this season, so it was pretty much a given that Du Plessis would once again get the nod thanks to a number of barnstorming performances.
Next best: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
1 Sona Taumalolo (Chiefs): The Chiefs' top try-scorer and fan favourite joins French side Perpignan with a Super Rugby title under his belt. During this season though, the mobile loosehead prop became something of a cult figure for the Hamilton franchise, and Chiefs supporters will be sad to see him go.
Next best: Tendai Mtawarira