Now that the dust has settled after Round Three of Super Rugby, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.
Top performances from the Hurricanes and the Chiefs highlighted Round Three so, unsurprisingly, they are well represented this week. The Bulls came back strongly while the Blues are still wondering how they lost in Bloemfontein.
Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round Three
15 Willie le Roux (Cheetahs): A tough call with a handful of candidates. Le Roux played a key role in all three of the Cheetahs' tries, so he can't be ignored. Mentions for James Marshall, Lolagi Visinia and Jesse Kriel.
14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders): In a week where news broke of his upcoming move to Clermont, Naholo celebrated that fact with an excellent effort against the Reds. His finish in the right corner was top notch as he takes this spot ahead of two-try Cheetahs wing Cornal Hendricks.
13 Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies): The best outside centre in world rugby at the moment? Probably. The Wallaby centre had a relatively quiet week in terms of line-breaks, but nevertheless scored a try and put in a few huge hits. A mention for Charlie Piutau, who looked dangerous in Bloemfontein.
12 Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs): First off a mention for Stormers centre Damian de Allende, who continues to grow in the centre shirt. But how can we leave out SBW after his outstanding showing in the Chiefs' third win of the season, against the Crusaders. He demonstrated his power with that try before setting up Charlie Ngatai and then James Lowe for his side's third and fifth try of a comprehensive victory.
11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes): Another week, another try for the All Black hitman, who made more metres – 138 – than any other player this weekend. A shout out for Chiefs wing James Lowe, who is having a great season.
10 Aaron Cruden (Chiefs): A massive reason why the men from Waikato are showing all the attributes of possible champions. Nuggety yet smart with ball in hand and in defence, Cruden was excellent on Saturday. Pat Lambie deserves a pat on the back for his 25 points for the Sharks.
9 Augustine Pulu (Chiefs): The Chiefs were on fire and their half-back combination had a lot to do with that. Pulu scored a try, beat a handful of defenders and made four offloads. Mentions too for Will Genia, who is finding his best form again as well as Sarel Pretorius, who was probably the Cheetahs' best player.
8 Jerome Kaino (Blues): The performance of the week in our eyes as in his 100th game for the Blues he was all-action against the Cheetahs. Unfortunately he and his team-mates were on the receiving end of a few contentious calls from referee Rohan Hoffman and lost the game but Kaino deserves praise for his twelve carries, five defenders beaten and 84 metres seeing him cause the Cheetahs defence plenty of problems.
7 Jarrad Butler (Brumbies): A standout performance from Sam Cane but we couldn't ignore Butler, who was the weekend's top tackler with a massive 19 hits. Scored a try and helped set another up too.
6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes): Bulls flanker Lappies Labuschagne helped his team-mates to their first win of the season with a typically tire-less performance that saw him make sixteen tackles. However, Shields was another level up for the 'Canes as he put on a huge defensive shift and laid on an assist to go with plenty of running metres. Still a youngster and alongside Ardie Savea, the Hurricanes have two superb back-row prospects.
5 Victor Matfield (Bulls): The Springbok veteran got a lot of flak in the press last week but he responded in the best way possible with a commanding performance, using all his experience to rattle the Sharks. His opposite number, Pieter-Steph du Toit, deserves a mention for his 15 tackles.
4 Johan Bardoul (Chiefs): 27 but a Super Rugby newbie, Bardoul was excellent off the bench after coming on for the injured Brodie Retallick after ten minutes. He was involved in so much good rugby from the former champions and sees off Hurricanes try-scoring forward Mark Abbott.
3 Charlie Faumuina (Blues): The Blues must still be wondering how the lost in Bloem. Faumuina was faultless though, scoring a try and was a precious ball carrier. A mention for his All Black rival from the Hurricanes, Ben Franks.
2 Adriaan Strauss (Bulls): Was a key cog in the Bulls success at the third time of asking, with his ten carries and general workrate around the field seeing him get the better of Bismarck du Plessis on the day. Hika Elliot and Stephen Moore were solid for their respective sides.
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers): The young Stormers prop was everywhere at Ellis Park and was unlucky to be denied a try. Was solid at scrum time too. A mention for Reggie Goodes, who scrummed well and put in a lot of work on defence.