Team of the Week: Super Rugby

Date published: June 1 2015

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Now that the dust has settled after Round 16 of Super Rugby, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.

The Hurricanes suffered only a second defeat of the year while the Highlanders, Lions and Reds all caught the eye with their respective victories.

With only two rounds to go now the pressure is on and these players are making an impression.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 16

15 Dane Haylett-Petty (Force)The Force suffered a humiliating defeat against the Reds in Perth but Haylett-Petty was one of a few players from the home side who emerged with credit from the loss. Crossed over for a try, gained 80 metres on attack with four defenders beaten and two offloads.

14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders): What a weekend for right wings! Seabelo Senatla, Ruan Combrinck and Henry Speight all bagged doubles but we couldn't look past the Highlanders flyer, who was phenomenal – again – in their impressive win over the Chiefs, showing remarkable speed for his solo try.

13 Richard Buckman (Highlanders)Shifted from inside to outside centre, it says a lot about Buckman that hes slotted into midfield seamlessly for the Highlanders after the good form of Naholo and Patrick Osborne. A well-taken try on the weekend as Buckman distributed well and made nine tackles.

12 Damian de Allende (Stormers): Unstoppable in midfield, the Stormers centre beat a whopping ten defenders and scored a try as the Cheetahs defence was torn to shreds at Newlands.

11 Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)What else is there to say – Nadolo is a freakish talent who was right at the heart of the Crusaders' attack on Friday. Two assists and a sharp try of his own sneaking up on Ma'a Nonu. We're big fans.

10 Quade Cooper (Reds): He's back… and aren't the Reds happy about it! Dan Carter looked set to be our 10 this week after pulling the strings in a rare defeat for the Hurricanes but Cooper scored two tries and created another with a crazy behind-the-back pass in a performance that would have peaked Michael Cheika's interest.

9 Aaron Smith (Highlanders): The All Blacks number nine's service to the Highlanders' outside backs was superb in wet conditions against the Chiefs in Invercargill. His decision making also impressed and he also did his bit on defence with six tackles. Edges out Will Genia of the Reds.

8 Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)Another player who stood out in a losing cause. Higginbotham took the fight to the Sharks and his efforts were almost rewarded with a deserved victory. Got over the gainline at will, making 84 metres in the process with three clean breaks, seven defenders beaten, two offloads and scored a brace of tries. Also caught the eye on defence with nine tackles.

7 Richie McCaw (Crusaders)McCaw's time with the Crusaders is winding down but this was a throwback performance, as he bossed the defence with 16 tackles and made three turnovers. Hasn't lost his attacking instinct either, with seven carries. He keeps out Nizaam Carr.

6 Jaco Kriel (Lions)Comes in on the blindside flank even though he plays as an openside after a scintillating display for the Lions against the Waratahs. Kriel gained 84 metres as a ball-carrier with two clean breaks, seven defenders beaten and two offloads and put in a big shift on defence with 18 hits. Stormers tearaway Siya Kolisi also deserves a mention.

5 Grant Hattingh (Bulls)It's been a tough old tour for the Bulls but Hattingh did his job in the absence of Victor Matfield, claiming an impressive 11 lineouts for the visitors in Canberra. Wins the spot ahead of Reds workhorse James Horwill.

4 Alex Ainley (Highlanders)A superb allround performance from the 33-year-old, who is in his debut season of Super Rugby. Ainley was the Highlanders' go-to man in the line-outs with seven takes and also impressed on defence with eight tackles. Comes in ahead of Stormers enforcer Eben Etzebeth.

3 Vincent Koch (Stormers): The Stormers are blessed with two fantastic tightheads and Koch returned to the starting XV with a try-scoring display. The former Pumas player is pushing hard for a Bok call up.

2 James Hanson (Reds): Another very good innings from Hanson as the Reds put the Force to the sword. The pack from Queensland stepped up in Perth with Hanson making ten strong carries.

1 Julian Redelinghuys (Lions)The Lions had a great afternoon at the scrum in their franchise-record win over the Waratahs, with Redelinghuys doing his part getting stuck into Sekope Kepu. Six tackles kept him busy in defence. Pips the Reds skipper James Slipper.

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