26 June 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
SUPER RUGBY SA TEAM OF THE SEASON
The South African Super Rugby title challenge fizzled out at the quarterfinal stage this past weekend.
The Bulls, the top-placed local qualifier in fifth position, came up just short in Wellington, where the Hurricanes claimed a 35-28 win, while the Sharks were battered 38-13 by the Brumbies in Canberra.
The Lions and Stormers finished outside the elite eight. After three consecutive finals, the Lions crashed to a ninth-place finish in 2019, while the Stormers, in 10th, were the sole owners of the South African wooden spoon after having shared the misfortune with the Bulls last year.
And so, the time has come for us to reveal our South African Team of the Season.
15: Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
Ripped the Lions to shreds in a Man of the Match performance in his first start of the season in Round Eight and single-handedly turned the Sharks’ season around after he was finally given an opportunity in the No.10 jersey. Spearheaded the team to their first win in Sydney in 19 years in Round 11 and continued to be the Sharks’ attacking spark for the remainder of the season.
14: Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
The comeback story of the year. An absolute class act in his first season back after a serious heart ailment threatened to end his career. Scored some sensational tries – including arguably the best solo five-pointer of the season against the Lions at Loftus – and capped off a stunning push for a Springbok recall with brilliant back-to-back performances in his team’s final two games.
13: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
Had a great season overall but was particularly prolific in the early rounds. So smart and skilful on attack, he sparked several tries with his play-making prowess – be it with slick passes or perfectly-weighted grubbers – and was the Sharks’ hero when he sunk the Stormers with a match-winning try at Newlands that sent the Durban side to the play-offs.
12: Damian de Allende (Stormers)
Added brains to his brawn this season. Painfully predictable for so long, he kept defences guessing by incorporating offloads and creative kicks into his usual power-driven game.
11: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)
A Man of the Match performance in the Sharks’ win over the Blues in Round Two set the speedster on his way to a sensational season. Was the complete package – a lethal strike runner, fantastic finisher and dependable defender. Separated himself from the rest and proved he has to go to the World Cup.
10: Handre Pollard (Bulls)
The Bulls’ MVP’s final Super Rugby season was also his best. The tournament’s top points-scorer showed why he will be pivotal to the Springboks’ World Cup hopes as he led the Bulls back to the play-offs for the first time since 2013 with his world-class game management, accurate boot and eye for the tryline.
9: Herschel Jantjies (Stormers) – Breakthrough Player of the Season
The find of the season. The nippy scrumhalf made an immediate impact when he came off the bench and scored the match-winning try against the Lions in Round Two, and went on to make the Stormers No.9 jersey his own. Looked at home in his rookie year of Super Rugby, playing with confidence and maturity well beyond his 22 years. An unknown this time last year, Jantjies’ super season has seen him included in the Springbok alignment camp.
8: Dan du Preez (Sharks) – Player of the Season
The constant shining light in an inconsistent side. In fact, the multi-skilled Sharks No.8 was the most consistently stellar and hardest-working South African player of the season. Carried the Sharks on his back with 177 hit-ups, the third-most regular-season runs, and ranked sixth in offloads with 19, highlighting his complete skillset. It’s fair to say the Sharks wouldn’t have had a sniff at the play-offs without Du Preez’s relentless go-forward grunt.
?? Top South African Performers in #SuperRugby 2019:
Points: Handre Pollard (188)
Tries: Dan du Preez (7)
Carries: Dan du Preez (177)
Metres Carried: Curwin Bosch (885)
Clean Breaks: Makazola Mapimpi (23)
Offloads: Andries Coetzee (21)
Lineouts: Marvin Orie (59) pic.twitter.com/Qhnyd444Uw
— BET.co.za (@betcoza) June 20, 2019