Team of the Week: Super Rugby

Date published: May 11 2015

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Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, it's time to select the players that stood out in Super Rugby, Round 13.

After the Crusaders put on an eye-catching show for the fans in Christchurch, our XV this week has a red tinge to it while the Stormers forwards get plenty of praise as they guided their team to the top of the South African conference.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 13

15 Andries Coetzee (Lions): When they trailed 20-3 at half-time, it looked as if the Lions' feel-good season was about to come off the rails, but they fought back in impressive fashion to see off the Highlanders in Johannesburg. Coetzee was at the heart of it, providing great support for the first try with a lovely give and go for Courtnall Skosan to score. Racking up 87 metres in total, Coetzee edges out Nehe Milner-Skudder who was dangerous for the Hurricanes.

14 Melani Nanai (Blues): Perhaps surprising to see someone included from a side that lost by 20 points, but Nanai had a great game for the Blues. His acrobatic finish for his try was one of the highlights of the game, but he was a constant menace with ball in hand in a dangerous Blues backline. That's enough to see off Ruan Combrinck of the Lions.

13 Dom Shipperley (Rebels): There were a few raised eyebrows when Shipperley was shifted to the centres, but the young winger stepped up admirably and caused the Blues all sorts of problems. His try was pure opportunism as the Blues failed to take a restart but it was the try he created for Jack Debreczeni that stood out, shrugging off two tacklers before giving his fly-half the easy run-in. He gets the nod over opposite number Francis Saili who had a great game of his own.

12 Dan Carter (Crusaders): DC has come in for a lot of criticism this year but, in his last game in Christchurch, he turned on the old magic and put on a great show, stepping past defenders and putting his teammates into space. The man set to play outside him for the All Blacks also had a great weekend as Ma'a Nonu deserves a mention for another top class performance.

11 Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders): Wow! What a performance from the big Fijian, who has been one of the players of the season. He ripped the Reds defence to shreds, bagging two tries and playing a role in setting up two more. A mention too for Force speedster Nick Cummins, who kept the 'Tahs defence on their toes.

10 Colin Slade (Crusaders): The loss of Aaron Cruden to injury is hardly being felt in New Zealand at the moment. Outstanding form from Lima Sopoaga, Beauden Barrett and Slade must please Steve Hansen, with the latter again superb with ball in hand against the Reds. Deceptive in his running and a slick distributor, he was out on his own this week, seeing off Lions super substitute Elton Jantjies.

9 Ryan Louwrens (Force): The young Force scrum-half continued his apprenticeship with another fine display against the defending champions. It's not easy to come into a losing team, but Louwrens has performed admirably since making his first start last week, and produced a great sniping score against the Waratahs. Andy Ellis was also impressive for the Crusaders, while Jamison Gibson-Park made a real impact for the Blues as a second-half replacement.

8 Nasi Manu (Highlanders): A tough call to leave out Stormers skipper Duane Vermeulen, who has been immense all year but we couldn't ignore the work put in by the Highlanders number eight, who topped his team's tackle count at Ellis Park and made a lot of ground with ball in hand.

7 Schalk Burger (Stormers): The breakdown at Newlands turned into a war zone and Burger was in the thick of the action. He made an impressive 17 carries and scored his team's only try. Mentions too for Rebels jackal Jordy Reid and the Lions' Jaco Kriel.

6 Colby Fainga'a (Rebels): Fainga'a has only started four games this season but he was clearly desperate to get involved in the Rebels' clash with the Blues. The flanker pilfered a couple of key early turnovers before being involved at the start and finish of the first try of the game. Combining brilliantly with Reid, he was outstanding, and gets in ahead of Blade Thomson and Jordan Taufua of the Hurricanes and Crusaders respectively.

5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)If you haven't already seen it then where have you been? Whitelock's try from 60 metres out was something special in Christchurch on Friday, with the big lock showing real pace and strength to see off the would-be tacklers. Once again Rebels lock Luke Jones impressed but Whitelock was a must this week.

4 Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes)Got through plenty of work alongside in-form teammate James Broadhurst on Saturday. Thrush is hopeful of an All Black squad spot in the World Cup and on this form the no nonsense second row must be considered. Picked up a try, made 13 carries and also racked up 18 tackles in a busy showing against the Sharks.

3 Frans Malherbe (Stormers): The Stormers scrum totally dominated the Brumbies to the point where a penalty try was on the cards. The constant stream of penalties from the set-piece kept the hosts in the game with Malherbe anchoring their effort.

2 Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks): A strong performance from the Springbok hooker as he led by example in Wellington, scoring his team's first try whilst making eight carries and eleven tackles. Although they left with no points, the Sharks gave their all and were much improved from recent showings, with du Plessis of course leading the charge.

1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers): It's hard to see how Heyneke Meyer could leave this 23-year-old out of his Springbok squad for the World Cup after another compelling display that saw him contribute a lot with ball in hand too. Credit also to Toby Smith for his effort for the Rebels, which included a try.

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