Round 16 of the 2013 Super Rugby tournament has come to a close, and with things heating up ahead of the international break, there were some incredible performances from a number of standout players.
1. Ben Franks (Hurricanes) – Ben Franks has added a welcomed depth to the Hurricanes’ front row this year, and his contributions in ball-carrying, in the scrums and in defence have been immense.
2. Andrew Hore (Highlanders) – the veteran hooker finally got something to smile about when the Highlanders beat the Blues. Hore was great in the tight encounters and had some impressive handling skills in the loose.
3. Werner Kruger (Bulls) – the often brash Bulls front rower showed had a bit more of a dynamic game against the Cheetahs, running well and carrying the ball strongly.
4. Luke Romano (Crusaders) – Romano is as good as he is in the lineouts and close encounters as he is running with the ball. Romano helped shift the defensive momentum against the Waratahs when it was needed.
5. De Kock Steenkamp (Stormers) – its hard to stand up tall next to Eben Etzebeth, but De Kock Steenkamp did well in some tough conditions against the Kings.
6. Steven Luatua (Blues) – despite the loss, the Blues’ Steven Luatua showed exactly why he’s in the All Black squad, making some vital line-breaks and showing great offloading skills.
7. Michael Hooper (Waratahs) – Hooper’s swerving run around Israel Dagg, along with the offload to Peter Betham, showed why he is such a versatile player for the Waratahs and Australia.
8. Kieran Read (Crusaders) – Read led the Crusaders well in some dire moments against the Waratahs, putting in some huge tackles to help his team stay on top.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) – Perenara has all the abilities to control a game – he’s fast at the breakdown, solid on defence, and deadly with ball in hand. He was great against the Brumbies.
10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) – Barrett knows exactly when to go wide, or take the ball to the line. His tactical and place-kicking against the Brumbies was superb.
11. Peter Betham (Waratahs) – Hosea Gear just misses out, as Betham put on another display of brilliance against the Crusaders, despite the loss. He worked incredibly hard in the midfield, and proved very difficult to tackle when ranging out wide.
12. Jan Serfontein (Bulls) – the Bulls new centre star appears to rise to any occasion, no matter the size. His straight running and devastating head-down approach was vital in getting over the advantage line against the Cheetahs.
13. Tamati Ellison (Highlanders) – the Highlanders’ outside centre finally had the game he’d been deserving, causing concerns for the Blues from start to finish.
14. Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) – the Cheetahs just fell short at the end, but Willie le Roux’s performance guaranteed him a spot in the Bok squad. His try was pure individual brilliance, and he set up another, showing his finishing and playmaking skills excellently.
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) 2- Ben Smith’s 2 tries showed that he is getting better and better week in and week out, and surely has his name down for the number 15 All Black jersey.