The United Rugby Championship (URC) Elite XV for the 2022/23 season has been released, with Ireland accounting for six of the 15 players.
Four players from South African franchises feature in the team, with two from each of Scotland and Italy and one from Wales.
A media panel voted for the side after being given a shortlist of 10 players per position provided by URC’s StatMaster. The player with the most votes in each position earned a place in the line-up.
URC 2022/23 Elite XV
Seven of the top eight sides from the regular season had at least one player in the team, with a total of 11 clubs featuring.
League leaders Leinster have the most representatives in hooker Dan Sheehan, flanker Scott Penny and fly-half Ross Byrne.
Sheehan pipped the URC Top Try Scorer, Tom Stewart, to the hooker position. Meanwhile, Byrne is the only player to have made the Elite XV for two successive seasons.
Prop Finlay Bealham and lock Niall Murray are the two Connacht players in the XV, while Munster number eight Gavin Coombes completes the Irish representation.
For the South Africans, defending champions, the Stormers have centre Dan du Plessis and captain Steven Kitshoff in the team.
The Sharks and Bulls have one player each in the side in scrum-half Grant Williams and full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse, respectively.
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) and Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) are two Scotland internationals in the team.
As for Italy, Benetton lock Federico Ruzza pairs up with Murray in the second-row, while Zebre winger Simone Gesi is selected in the back three.
Finally, Scarlets star Vaea Fifita is the only player from the Welsh regions.
Elite XV: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), 14 Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby), 13 Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), 12 Daniel du Plessis (Stormers), 11 Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma), 10 Ross Byrne (Leinster), 9 Grant Williams (Sharks), 8 Gavin Coombes (Munster), 7 Scott Penny (Leinster), 6 Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), 5 Federico Ruzza (Benetton), 4 Niall Murray (Connacht), 3 Finlay Bealham (Connacht), 2 Dan Sheehan (Leinster), 1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
URC Awards 2022/23
OFX Top Try Scorer: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
Tackle Machine: John Hodnett (Munster)
Turnover King: Thomas Young (Cardiff)
Next-Gen Player of the Season: Tom Stewart (Ulster)
TBA: The Try of the Season, Ironman, Gilbert Golden Boot and Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season, Coach of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season and Fans’ Player of the Season.