Planet Rugby

Planet Rugby's Team of the Year

18th December 2012 07:38

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Planet Rugby Team of the YEar 2012

Tough calls: PR's XV

You've had your turn, now it's ours. After hours of debate and dummy-spitting here at Planet Rugby HQ, we've selected our line-up of 2012.

Three players were brought in from the cold by our panel of journalists while the remaining twelve you named receive a further pat on the back.

So without further ado, here comes our offering - be sure to send in your own 15-1 team line-ups.

Planet Rugby's Team of the Year

15 Israel Dagg (Crusaders & New Zealand) - The majority ruled on this one as Israel Dagg gets in ahead of Leigh Halfpenny after another superb year for franchise and country. Dagg keeps on producing at full-back and while Halfpenny was strong throughout, the Kiwi was a touch better.
Bubbling under: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues & Wales)

14 Bryan Habana (Stormers & South Africa) - After a moment of deliberation, we went for Bryan Habana over JP Pietersen. In truth it was a simple decision after the veteran's outstanding Rugby Championship campaign when he scored the International Rugby Players' Association's Try of 2012.
Bubbling under: JP Pietersen (Sharks & South Africa)

13 Conrad Smith (Hurricanes & New Zealand) - This was arguably the quickest decision we made in the selection process. Conrad Smith was superb all year, with his leadership of a young Hurricanes team given no hope in pre-season something that has to be hailed.
Bubbling under: Jonathan Davies (Scarlets & Wales)

12 Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs & New Zealand) - There was a whisper at PR questioning whether the Chiefs would have won the Super Rugby title without SBW? There is no doubt, however, that he was developing into a fine centre, with six months of action enough for us.
Bubbling under: Wesley Fofana (Clermont & France)

11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes & New Zealand) - Nine tries in your debut Super Rugby year, twelve scores in your first nine internationals for your country: 2012 has been quiet a season for Julian Savea. He would be the first to credit others, such as Conrad Smith, but there is no doubting that the 'Canes finisher has the tools to become a frequent scorer for years to come. We feel applause must go to AB coach Steve Hansen too for managing him well.
Bubbling under: Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter & Argentina)

10 Dan Carter (Crusaders & New Zealand) - An average game by his standards is deemed an great day at the office by so many others. While Dan Carter wasn't around all year, when he was rivals struggled to cope as he bounced back from an injury riddled 2011 strongly.
Bubbling under: Fred Michalak (Sharks & France)

9 Ruan Pienaar (Ulster & South Africa) - Maybe seen as a surprise call by some but the performances of Ruan Pienaar for Ulster during both their Heineken Cup and RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns were excellent. He saved his province plenty of times with key goal-kicks but it was the calming presence he provided that sees him get in ahead of Aaron Smith. It is also worth noting the difference he made when taking over at nine from Francois Hougaard.
Bubbling under: Aaron Smith (Highlanders & New Zealand)

8 Kieran Read (Crusaders & New Zealand) - There was a two for two tie at PR HQ before deciding votes came from other contributors that meant Kieran Read got the nod ahead of Louis Picamoles. Picamoles has been a carrying machine all year for Toulouse and France but Read just possesses rugby intelligence in spades to go alongside many man-of-the-match efforts, which means he takes the eight spot. He was a superb leader in Canterbury.
Bubbling under: Louis Picamoles (Toulouse & France)

7 Richie McCaw (Crusaders & New Zealand) - 65% of our readers went with him, 100% of us did the same. Richie McCaw put in yet another impressive campaign for his country, but may be left disappointed at drawing with Australia before losing to England. Over his six months off though he may realise just what he has achieved in the past year or so as World Cup triumph was followed by a 100th Test victory with the All Blacks. Rest up, Richie.
Bubbling under: Francois Louw (Bath & South Africa)

6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon & Argentina) - While Dan Lydiate enjoyed an exceptional Six Nations, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was a joy to watch in the Rugby Championship. The 31-year-old Toulon back-row seamlessly switched between blindside and eight all year and those efforts from August to October were a sight to behold as he combined a high tackle count with line-out takes and general classy play around the field.
Bubbling under: Dan Lydiate (Dragons & Wales)

5 Nathan Sharpe (Western Force & Australia) - An extended international career due to the absence of James Horwill meant that "Sharpey" gave it one final slog in the Gold jersey this year. It paid off for both player and coach as Nathan Sharpe left everything on the field for his country and thus won his second John Eales Medal before calling it day. On a side note, a mention must go to Ireland's Donnacha Ryan who continues to grow into a solid lock.
Bubbling under: Donnacha Ryan (Munster & Ireland)

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers & South Africa) - Debut seasons like this usually do not come from players in the engine room. Eben Etzebeth bucked that trend this year as the Western Province native's physicality was a feature in both Super Rugby and Springbok rugby. One concern is that he may take the Bakkies Botha hard man similarities too seriously and thus pick himself up a reputation, which we hope is not the case. A real talent has emerged.
Bubbling under: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders & New Zealand)

3 Census Johnston (Toulouse & Samoa) - We went for two islanders as our props this year but it wasn't a unanimous decision at tighthead. Dan Cole continues to mature into an outstanding front-rower but we can't remember Toulouse's pack ever being in big trouble in 2012 and Census Johnston was one reason why. His efforts for an in-form Samoan side were also admirable so the votes went the way of the 31-year-old, who's pushing 140 kgs.
Bubbling under: Dan Cole (Leicester & England)

2 Rory Best (Ulster and Ireland) - His form seldom dipped when wearing either white or green as Rory Best shone for Ireland and Ulster during the Heineken Cup, PRO12, Six Nations and June series. Even in a losing squad in New Zealand, Kiwi pundits noted his performances for his country so we felt he pips Adriaan Strauss. Massive credit to the Bok though as his all-action style meant Bismarck du Plessis' absence wasn't noticeable.
Bubbling under: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs & South Africa)

1 Sona Taumalolo (Chiefs & Tonga) - Again a tough selection decision as Cian Healy made the British & Irish Lions loosehead jersey his own this past year after great shifts for Leinster and Ireland. However, there was a Tongan making serious noise in the southern hemisphere in 2012 as Sona Taumalolo rivalled wingers in the Super Rugby try charts and also was strong in the dark arts. Tonga truly is blessed in the loosehead prop department.
Bubbling under: Cian Healy (Leinster & Ireland)

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