Another round of the 2013 Super Rugby reached its climax on the weekend, and a number of players raised their hands with some impressive performances that can’t go unnoticed.
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks) – while the Sharks didn’t get the win, the Beast showed exactly why he is a force to be reckoned with. Very seldomly will you see a Bulls scrum go backwards, and it was the pressure Mtawarira was applying that helped do so.
2. Ged Robinson (Rebels) – the Rebels hooker is somewhat of an unsung hero, but the Kiwi-born player had a great physical match with the Waratahs, and carried the ball well when he got the chance.
3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs) – the big Chiefs front-rower has become a fan favourite, and his big hits and powerful drives were instrumental in keeping the Chiefs on the front foot.
4. Craig Clarke (Chiefs) – Craig Clarke continues to work harder and harder each week, and seemed to be part of every important defensive or attacking play. His charge-down and try were right reward for all his perseverance.
5. Sam Wykes (Western Force) – the Force picked up another impressive win when they took on the Highlanders, and Wykes was solid in the lineout and collisions, always giving his team the right opportunity to continue moving forward.
6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers) – the Stormers flanker has made the void left by Schalk Burger seem almost insignificant, as the young forward made some powerful tackles and great carries – living up to the number on his back.
7. Lappies Lebuschagne (Cheetahs) – Lebuschagne never seems to have a bad game, and the Cheetahs’ flanker stood tall against the Kings – making their defence work hard when he had the ball, and hitting the rucks with force when he didn’t.
8. Philip van der Walt (Cheetahs) – the Lebuschagne / van der Walt is emerging as a powerful forward option for SA rugby, and van der Walt did all the hard and physical work, but also had some great handling that put other players into space.
9. Jano Vermaak (Bulls) – the frantic scrumhalf is making it harder and harder for Hougaard to win back the number 9 jersey. Vermaak was not afraid to get stuck into the physical stuff, and was infuriating for the Sharks by being so fast at the breakdown.
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) – the young All Black flyhalf apprentice showed up his mentor Dan Carter, as Cruden constantly applied pressure on the Crusaders’ number 10, kicked with precision and slipped through the defence a number of times.
11. Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) – Willie le Roux seems to have all the traits, and he showed his pace, defensive and playmaking abilities against the Kings. Simply superb.
12. Bundee Aki (Chiefs) – Bundee Aki has demonstrated that he is not only an attacking menace, but also a defensive pillar, executing a brilliant try-saving tackle on Kieran Read and putting in some big hits in the midfield. His try was well-deserved.
13. Johan Sadie (Cheetahs) – while Rene Ranger and Jean de Villiers had great games in the number 13 jersey, Sadie really came into the limelight against the Kings. The young centre seemed to pop up everywhere, and had some great touches in addition to his two tries.
14. Tom English (Rebels) – the former sevens player found himself on the end of two try-scoring opportunities, and finished them both excellently. He has also shown to be tireless in defence and gets involved across the pitch.
15. Jason Woodward (Rebels) – Robbie Robinson was great for the Chiefs, and Pietersen was superb for the Stormers, but Jason Woodward stood up against the odds when playing the Waratahs by kicking excellently and making some game-changing line-breaks for the Melbourne side.