Now that the dust has settled after Round 6 of Super Rugby, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.
1. Mitchell Graham (Chiefs) – Chiefs prop Mitchell Graham put in 12 tackles in his side’s win over the Brumbies. The Waikato franchise’s season is taking off based on a solid platform, provided by the likes of this 25-year-old.
2. Armand van der Merwe (Lions) – The Lions hooker came on as a replacement in the match against the Crusaders, but stole the show when he did, scoring two tries and adding some serious momentum to the Lions forward pack.
3. Marcel van der Merwe (Bulls) – Had some great pick-and-drives that gave the Bulls some much-needed metres in the close encounter. Van der Merwe was also powerful at scrumtime to keep the Cheetahs on the backfoot.
4. Steven Sykes (Kings) – The Kings’ captain had a strong game, scoring a try and working hard in the tight encounters. His leadership qualities are growing with each match and he’s turning his side into a competitive piece of the Super Rugby puzzle.
5. RG Snyman (Bulls) – An incredible work-rate from the Bulls’ second-rower. Snyman was relentless in defence and scored a great try thanks to a well-timed pass from Rudy Paige.
6. Tom Sanders (Chiefs) – The Chiefs seem to have found themselves another star flank in the form of Tom Sanders. Completely nullified the Brumbies’ threats of David Pocock and Tom Fardy while also scoring a great try out wide.
7. Sean McMahon (Rebels) – Lead by example and put in some try-saving tackles to prevent the Waratahs’ second-half comeback from resulting in points. A strong performance by the Rebels captain.
8. Liam Squire (Highlanders) – 25-year-old was effective on both sides of the ball against the Force, carrying strongly to propel his side forward and amassing a game-high 15 tackles to help the Highlanders hold off their pesky opponents.
9. Aaron Smith (Highlanders) – the All Blacks scrumhalf was in brilliant form. His service at the breakdown was remarkably fast, his support-play was fantastic, and his attacking ability around the ruck area is easily the best in the world at the moment.
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) – An attacking masterclass from the All Black playmaker. Aaron Cruden controlled the game excellently and made the Brumbies pay for their defensive frailties. Great running, passing, and kicking
11. Patrick Osborne (Highlanders) – Osborne had a blunder in the early part of the match against the Force, but more than made up for it with a great try, some line-breaking runs, and a try-assist for Jason Emery. His ability to come off his wing to work in the midfield has to be appreciated. He also almost scored the try of the season (so far), but was denied on the grounding.
12. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) – The Crusaders centre was sublime against the Lions, scoring a hat-trick and having solid defence to prevent the Lions from building momentum in the midfield.
13. Rene Ranger (Blues) – Ranger was back to his usual best against the Jaguares, punching holes in the midfield, setting up Ihaia West’s try with a brilliant offload, and stabbing a well-placed kick through which resulted in a try.
14. Matt Fades (Highlanders) – Finished a great long range try after chasing up Aaron Smith’s initial break and kick-through, and had some great moments in attacking play. A great addition to the Highlanders backline.
15. Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) – There’s no doubt that McKenzie is elevating himself into All Blacks selection. The Chiefs fullback had another brilliant game, having a hand in numerous tries and scoring the Chiefs’ last of the match himself. A spectacular performance.
Who do you think deserves to be in the Super Rugby team of the week? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us @MenStuffZA.