Team of the Week: Super Rugby

Date published: April 21 2015

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Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we select the men who stood out during Round Ten of Super Rugby.

An outstanding contest between the competition leaders and defending champions sees the Waratahs and Hurricanes get plenty of attention while the Highlanders backs continue to impress.

The Chiefs too were in top form while wins on the road for the Stormers and Reds deserve recognition.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round Ten

15 Tom Marshall (Chiefs): A classy performance at full-back from the Gloucester-bound back, whose gliding runs kept the Crusaders occupied all game long in Christchurch. Marshall looked dangerous and made nine runs for a gain of 74 metres, going past three defenders with a couple of offloads to boot. Mentions for Israel Folau and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders): You just can't stop this guy! The tournament's top try-scorer this season bagged another having already created one – both inside the first quarter – against the Blues. Something happens whenever the ball reaches his hands. Mentions too for Peter Betham, who scored twice and Tim Nanai-Williams, who was brilliant in the Chiefs's demolition job in Christchurch.

13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders): The All Blacks are spoilt for choice in midfield and Fekitoa is sure to become a global superstar once Conrad Smith moves on after the World Cup. Two tries and an assist in a big first half for the youngster. Adam Ashley-Cooper also deserves a shout out for an excellent comeback game for the 'Tahs.

12 Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes): Back to his best since returning to the yellow jersey, Nonu beat a whopping eight defenders and made ten tackles. A mention for George Moala, who was also difficult to get hold of.

11 James O’Connor (Reds): Back in the side for the Reds and how they enjoyed having him involved in their attacks, with the Wallaby setting up two tries which flipped the game on its head in Bloemfontein. Offers some real class when the Reds can get the ball in his hands and this was his best performance of the year. Made 13 runs for 86 metres, beating three defenders.

10 Bernard Foley (Waratahs) : A tough choice with a few 10s playing well this week but Foley was instrumental in the champs' revival in Wellington, as he helped set up two tries. A mention too for his free-running opposite number Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga, who was faultless from the kicking tee.

9 Nic Stirzaker (Rebels): Sparked the Melbourne side to life when his dart off the back of a set-piece led to Sefenaia Naivalu racing over to make it 10-0 with the conversion. Stirzaker also directed play very well alongside Jack Debreczeni and seems to be growing in confidence by the week. Aaron Smith was his usual busy self against the Blues while TJ Perenara scored a try and got an assist.

8 Nizaam Carr (Stormers): Filling in admirably for Duane Vermeulen when required, Carr was at the heart of most of his pack's solid work against the Force. He had 12 carries and made an impressive 18 tackles to edge out Michael Leitch and Wycliff Palu of the Chiefs and Waratahs respectively. Leitch in particular stood out with a smart try and an assist, but Carr did enough to get the nod.

7 Michael Hooper (Waratahs) : A skipper's innings from the 'Tahs captain, who made 16 tackles and made a lot of ground with ball in hand. When Hooper is at his best, the Waratahs are tough to beat. A mention for the Sharks' Marcell Coetzee, who carried strongly.  

6 Sean McMahon (Rebels): The Rebels are very much in the race for a play-off spot in the Australian conference, and McMahon played a key role in their win over rivals the Brumbies this weekend. In a game where they had just 33 percent possession, McMahon led the defensive effort with 16 tackles as well as some valuable carries. A mention for Jacques du Plessis, who impressed for the Bulls.

5 Will Skelton (Waratahs): A first Super Rugby try for Skelton is enough to see him nudge out Patrick Tuipulotu. It was more than his try though, which simply required him to fall over the line. The Waratahs lock played the full 80 minutes, making ground with almost every carry while also fronting up in defence.

4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): He was everywhere against the Crusaders as the men from Hamilton secured back-to-back wins over their conference rivals. 12 tackles, seven line-outs and a nuisance at the breakdown see him get him ahead of Stormers rock Eben Etzebeth.

3 Charlie Faumuina (Blues): We're not sure if it says more about Faumuina or more about the rest of this round's tightheads that the All Black gets the nod despite playing only 35 minutes. An early second-half replacement, Faumuina helped the Blues overcome a 27-5 deficit to secure two unlikely bonus points. With 43 metres made ball in hand, he was certainly busy around the park, while the Blues remained rock solid at scrum-time.

2 Adriaan Strauss (Bulls): It certainly wasn't a pretty win in Durban but the work-rate of players like Strauss in the pack paved the road to victory last Saturday. The Springbok hooker is starting to turn in big performances on a weekly basis on his return to Pretoria and registered plenty of carries (nine in total) and tackles. He therefore keeps out Keven Mealamu, who scored twice, and James Hanson.

1 Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks): A big afternoon for the Springbok prop when it came to his work in the loose, which couldn't be faulted despite the Sharks falling to yet another loss. The Sharks scrum was solid and ‘Beast’ backed that up with ten tackles and six carries for 22 metres.

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