Currie Cup: Team of the tournament

Date published: October 28 2014

With the Currie Cup now a thing of the past we select the players who impressed us the most during the 2014 tournament.

With the Currie Cup now a thing of the past Planet Rugby selects the players who impressed us the most during the 2014 tournament.

Tournament winners Western Province and runners-up, the Golden Lions, dominated throughout the season, so it’s little surprise that they also have the most representatives in our side.

In the end we selected six WP players, five Lions, three Bulls and a Shark.

XV of the Currie Cup

15 Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province) – Was a revelation with ball in hand and finished the season with the most metres gained on attack (1,050). A dangerous counter-attacker, Kolbe was rarely caught out of position and also did well on defence where he seldom came off second best in the tackle.

14 Ruan Combrinck (Golden Lions) – Was the tournament’s joint second highest try-scorer – alongside WP skipper Juan de Jongh – with six tries but also impressed as a goal-kicker and finished the season as the second highest pointscorer with 106 points. Edges out Sharks flyer S’bura Sithole.

13 Juan de Jongh (Western Province) – He might not be in Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer’s plans but his omission at Test level has been a blessing in disguise for the Cape Town-based side. Thrived with the extra responsibility as WP’s captain and his experience was a calming influence which allowed his more inexperienced back-line team-mates to flourish around him.

12 Andre Esterhuizen (Sharks) – The Baby Boks stalwart cemented his place in the Sharks midfield midway through the tournament with some superb performances which coincided with a resurgence in the Durban-based side’s fortunes. Although Esterhuizen didn’t play during the early part of the Sharks campaign, his direct approach saw him finishing second highest for defenders beaten (14) for the entire competition. The Bulls’ Burger Odendaal also impressed.

11 Seabelo Senatla (Western Province) – There were doubts at the start of the season whether Blitzbokke sensation could replicate his superb Sevens form in the 15-man game but Senatla soon removed all those doubts with several sparkling displays. His speed proved to be his main weapon which made him one of the most potent finishers in the competition.

10 Jacques Louis-Potgieter (Blue Bulls) – The most difficult selection as several players were in contention. WP’s Demetri Catrakilis, the Sharks’ Lionel Cronje and Justin van Staden of the Pumas all deserve mentions. But Potgieter gets the nod as he helped the Bulls reach the semi-finals with his superb goal-kicking and decision making. Finished as joint top pointscorer (123) for the season with Catrakilis.

9 Nic Groom (Western Province) – Grew in stature as the tournament progressed and provided a slick service with his excellent passing game which helped his outside backs to shine. Also varied his game well by bringing his forwards in to play with clever offloads and beats out Free State Cheetahs stalwart Sarel Pretorius who had another good season.

8 Nizaam Carr (Western Province) – Caught the eye on the flank during the latter stages of the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign but took his game to another level in the number eight jersey for WP. Carr’s excellent ball skills, flair and vision were impressive throughout WP’s victorious campaign but he is also a phenomenal defender who made the most tackles (200) in the competition. Edges out Sharks skipper Tera Mtembu who led by example.

7 Michael Rhodes (Western Province) – Impressed on attack and defence with his aggressive, no-nonsense approach which created a platform for his more creative team-mates to express themselves. Although he’s a strong ball-carrier, Rhodes’ defence was what caught the eye and he completed the second most tackles (181) behind Carr during the tournament.

6 Jaco Kriel (Golden Lions) – He might have finished on the losing side in the final but must be a shoe-in for the Currie Cup’s Player of the tournament award. Kriel epitomises everything that’s good about the Lions’ season. He plays the game at a high pace and intensity, and was the tournament’s leading the try-scorer with nine tries and topped the statistics for the most clean breaks (13) and defenders beaten (18).

5 Franco Mostert Golden Lions: – An old fashioned lock who did the dirty work at the coalface of the Lions’ forward effort. Mostert also impressed in the line-outs and beats out the Bulls’ Grant Hattingh who also shone with his aerial skills.

4 Paul Willemse (Blue Bulls) – The Grenoble-bound second-row’s game has come on in leaps and bounds and his physicality was a sight to behold at times. A fearless ball-carrier and tackler, who also cleans out the rucks with great ferocity, Willemse edges out the Sharks’ Stephen Lewies.

3 Julian Redelinghuys (Golden Lions) – Started most of the Lions’ matches on the replacements bench as Ruan Dreyer’s back-up but destroyed most of his direct opponents in the scrums when he came on to the field. Tighthead is a position where South Africa has had little depth in recent years and Redelinghuys’ selection for the Springboks is a just reward after a fine season.

2 Robbie Coetzee (Golden Lions) – Made a huge impact during the Lions’ run to the final, especially as a ball carrier and a strong scrummaging hooker. Also accurate with his throw-ins at the line-outs and edges out the Sharks’ Kyle Cooper and WP’s Scarra Ntubeni.

1 Dean Greyling (Blue Bulls): – Although the men from Pretoria delivered a mixed bag of results this season, the Springbok prop has impressed throughout their campaign. Greyling held his own in the scrums and he also impressed on defence, especially at the fringes of the rucks and mauls. His ball winning ability, however, has been superb and he beats out more fancied pilferers like Kriel and Bulls skipper Deon Stegmann as the player who won the most turnovers during the season with 13 steals.