Team of the Week: Super Rugby

Date published: May 19 2015

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we pick out the players that stood out in Super Rugby Round 14.

It was a dismal weekend for the South African teams, who were unable to get a win. By contrast, the duel to the top of the Kiwi conference in Wellington was a high-quality affair while the Brumbies and Highlanders enjoyed big wins in th Republic.

And let's not forget those Reds, who finally got their act together.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 14

15 Ben Smith (Highlanders): Man of the Match in Bloemfontein as the Highlanders' backline set the Free State Stadium pitch on fire, the All Black full-back scored try and created another as the Cheetahs were put to the sword. A mention for the Reds' James O'Connor, who played a big part in their second-half blitz of the Rebels.

14 Ryan Tongia (Highlanders): We had Chiefs wing Hosea Gear pencilled in for this position after his best performance since returning to New Zealand but how can you ignore a debubant who scores a double inside 16 minutes?! A pat on the back also for Chris Feauai-Sautia, who beat six Rebels tacklers.

13 Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs): Currently on a hot streak in terms of tries, Ashley-Cooper has slotted back in to the Waratahs’ backline and this week just about holds off the challenge of Malakai Fekitoa and Tevita Kuridrani, all international stars. Ashley-Cooper’s three line breaks were essential as he skipped past defenders.

12 Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes): Quickly becoming a standard fixture in our weekly XV, Nonu must be near the top of the list for player of the tournament. His 50th try in his 50th Super Rugby game alongside Conrad Smith just about assures the 'Canes of a home semi-final. He's fast closing in on Doug Howlett's all-time record of 59. A mention too for Jan Serfontein who scored twice for the Bulls.

11 Sefania Naivalu (Rebels): Naivalu might have ended up on the losing side but he scored a pair of sensational tries, including one coast-to-coast effort as his rich vein of form continues. Five carries included two breaks and an end total of 137 metres with the ball in hand. He keeps out Lachie Turner and Patrick Osborne.

10 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs):  The young Chiefs star took over the fly-half duties in Wellington and stood out again, making nine carries and plenty of metres while feeding a very dangerous backline as the 2013 champions went so close. He keeps out the Waratahs star man Bernard Foley.

9 Nic White (Brumbies): Pulling the strings for the Brumbies in a dominant display at Ellis Park, White gave the final pass for two of his team's tries but, more importantly, controlled the game excellently behind his pack without any of the niggle that soured his performance from a week earlier. He edges out Highlanders magician Aaron Smith, who scored two tries.

8 Nasi Manu (Highlanders): A handful of candidates here with Michael Leitch doing well for the Chiefs and Ita Vaea scoring for the Brumbies, but Manu's charge down the touchline and outrageous offload to set up Aaron Smith's first try was worth his spot alone!

7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes): Lots of contenders for the openside berth this week, with Jaco Kriel and Sam Cane putting their hand up, also Liam Gill, but we've gone with the Hurricanes juggernaut Savea. Starting to produce his best form for the league leaders, Savea scored a try, made eight carries for plenty of metres and also totalled up 14 tackles in a hard-working performance.

6 Akira Ioane (Blues): A shining light for the Blues this season, Ioane grafted away against the Bulls and seemed to always get past the first defender when he was on the charge. 13 carries couple with 10 tackles, he’s a coach’s dream player and a very impressive athlete.

5 Rob Simmons (Reds): A good day at the office for Simmons, who ruled at lineout time as the Reds' main target in the air with six takes from his team's eight throws. He also contributed with the try that kicked off the Queenslanders' comeback in Brisbane.

4 Luke Jones (Rebels): Arguably the best lock in Super Rugby week in, week out, Jones once again makes our selection following his industrious outing at Suncorp. A long-range try scorer, Jones won three lineouts and made ten carries despite the Rebels being well beaten in Brisbane.

3 Greg Holmes (Reds): The old-timer continues to put in top performances for his side, coming back from his pre-season injury with some good form. The form tighthead in Australia right now, his set-piece work is top-rate and he chipped in with nine carries.

2 Hika Elliott (Chiefs): Impressive with ball in hand, Elliot beat four defenders, which is pretty decent for a hooker. Did well to hit his lineout jumpers too, which wasn't easy considering the Chiefs lost both their starting locks early on.

1 Pauliasi Manu (Chiefs): Last Saturday’s game in the Cake Tin saw plenty of blockbuster carriers, including the Chiefs loosehead who totalled ten big runs for his side. Often had the upper hand at scrum time too.