Team of the Week: Super Rugby

Date published: April 13 2015

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

Impressive wins for the Bulls, Highlanders and Stormers mean they all have multiple representatives while the Cheetahs also get a mention thanks to a rare win on the road. Similarly, the Blues deserve kudos for finally getting off the mark.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round Nine

15 Jesse Kriel (Bulls): Excellent at the back for the Bulls as he ran 194 metres from 12 carries and set up a try in Pretoria against the Reds. Kriel could well sneak into the Springbok squad as any performance that sees off Highlanders full-back Ben Smith's effort against in Christchurch must be impressive. Smith just about edged the All Black battle with Israel Dagg in their win at the Crusaders.

14 Waiseke Naholo (Highlanders): One of the players of the tournament so far, Naholo scored two more tries against the Crusaders to take him to the top of the charts having touched down six times this season. His stats are incredible with over 150 metres made and four defenders beaten. An honourable mention for Francois Hougaard, who bagged a brace for the Bulls.

13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders): Another Highlanders back who caught the eye with a superb display on attack, winning 56 metres with two defenders beaten and three offloads in the process. Comes in ahead of the Reds' Samu Kerevi who did well against the Bulls in Pretoria.

12 Damian de Allende (Stormers): Surely a starter in the Springbok midfield for the Rugby Championship, De Allende is the form 12 in Super Rugby this year. Two tries against the 'Tahs and four beaten defenders mean he makes our team once again.

11 Nemani Nadolo: (Crusaders): On this form, the big Fijian would walk into any national starting line-up in the world. At the origin of both of the Crusaders' tries, his offload to put Matt Todd clear for the first was sensational before he sucked in five defenders to create the second for Jordan Taufua. Brilliant.

10 Dan Bowden (Blues): Sir John Kirwan recently decided to go with the experience of Bowden ahead of Ihaia West and both were pivotal in the team's first win of the season. Bowden crossed for a try and kicked eight points before West nailed the match-winning penalty. One mention elsewhere goes to Lima Sopoaga, who continues to impress for the Highlanders as he set up a try and sent over ten points.

9 Will Genia (Reds): The Wallaby veteran has come in for criticism in some quarters after some below-par performances but led by example in his side's loss to the Bulls. Genia inspired a mini fightback with a try shortly after the restart and also delivered a perfectly-weighted grubber kick from which Nick Frisby scored a five-pointer. Finished with 33 metres a clean break and two defenders beaten. A mention too for Faf de Klerk, who was a livewire for the Lions.

8 Jerome Kaino (Blues) Even before their losing run ended on Friday, Kaino had been a rock at number eight for the Blues. It was the case again against the Brumbies but this time he was rewarded with a win. Kaino carried nine times and also made 14 tackles at Eden Park, seeing off Crusader Kieran Read and Nizaam Carr of the Stormers, who put in strong showings in Christchurch and Sydney.

7 Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs): The top tackler in Round 9, the forgotten Springbok made a shoulder-aching 21 hits in Perth and forced a handful of turnovers too. Mentions too for Liam Gill and David Pocock whose form at the breakdown will be encouraging for the Wallaby staff.

6 Jordan Taufua (Crusaders): Surely an All Black in waiting. Taufua has nailed down the Crusaders blindside jersey this year and was all-action again on Saturday in a try-scoring display. Cheetahs flanker Boom Prinsloo also impressed with a tireless display.

5 Grant Hattingh (Bulls): Worked tirelessly during his side's demolition of the Reds, especially on defence where he made an impressive 13 tackles. Also did well in the line-outs, winning five balls and also poached one of the opposition's throws. Edges out the Blues' Patrick Tuipulotu and the Lions' Franco Mostert.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): Heyneke Meyer will be a very happy man to see Etzebeth returning to his best, making his presence felt both in the air at line-out time (he pinched two off the Waratahs' throw) and around the fringes with that massive frame.  

3 Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs): Another fine display from the Springbok who gained 18 metres with ball in hand against the Force and also put his body on the line with 15 tackles. Oosthuizen also cleaned out the rucks with great intent and and looked solid in the scrums.

2 Callie Visagie (Bulls): Had big boots to fill as Adriaan Strauss' replacement but delivered a busy shift in his first start of the season. Visagie impressed in the tight phases, with a strong scrummaging display and accurate throw-ins at the line-outs. Visagie also did his bit on defence with eight tackles made.

1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Blues): His best performance in a Blues jersey for sure. Tu'ungafasi has long been a back-up in Auckland but against the Brumbies he looked settled and error free, with 17 tackles made in a solid effort. Bulls loosehead prop Dean Greyling was another player to stand out over the weekend as his physicality around the field at Loftus Versfeld caused the Reds plenty of problems.