26 June 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld

SUPER RUGBY 2019 TEAM OF THE SEASON

With the steam of Saturday’s Super Rugby decider having dissipated, it’s time to honour the standout players of the season.

All roads led back to Christchurch, where the past and present collided with the future in a fresh final showdown between the most successful Super Rugby franchise in history in the Crusaders and first-ever finalists in the Jaguares. There was to be no passing of the torch as the Crusaders triumphed 19-3 to clinch their third title in a row and 10th overall.

Our Team of the Season features stars from nine of the 15 sides, including a trio of Crusader’s aces and dynamic Jaguares duo. Semi-finalists the Hurricanes have three representatives, the top-placed South African team, the Bulls, have two, while a standout from each of semi-finalists, the Brumbies, as well as the Sharks, Lions, Reds and Sunwolves also cracked the nod.

15: David Havili (Crusaders)

Waratahs star Israel Folau looked on course to lock up the fullback berth before his controversial comments on social media saw him being suspended. Havili, meanwhile, was a consistent class act who enjoyed a breakout year. The elusive Crusaders No.15 evaded a tournament-high 72 defenders, ranked third in metres made (1,137), joint ninth in clean breaks (23) and 10th in carries (165).

14: Sevu Reece (Crusaders)

The season’s most prolific try-scorer with 15, one shy of the tournament record set by Ben Lam last year. A predatory finisher, like a shark that smells blood in the water. Give him the slightest bit of space and he’ll punish you. The New Zealand revelation of the season, he stormed straight into the All Blacks squad.

13: Samu Kerevi (Reds)

No one player was as important and influential for a team as Kerevi was for the Reds. He carried the young team on his back all season with a tournament-high 220 carries, almost 40 more than his closest rival Thomas Banks (181), and beat 71 would-be tacklers, the second-most of the season. He also ranked second in offloads (26) and fifth in clean breaks (26).

12: Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes)

With his stocky build and barn-storming runs, the Hurricanes inside centre resembled a rhino on a rampage. A unique midfield force with his girth and low centre of gravity, Laumape ran in 13 tries, second only to Reece, ranked third in defenders beaten (65) and 10th in metres made (871). Boasts a high rugby IQ as well, as he showed when he ‘chested’ the ball en route to scoring his second try in the epic semi-final against the Crusaders.

11: Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves)

Lethal on both the left and right-wing, Masirewa made a name for himself with brilliant breaks – 28 to be exact, the joint third-most of the season – 11 scintillating tries – the fourth-most of the season – and his now famous celebration. He also ranked in the top 10 in metres made (fourth, with 1,053) and defenders beaten (sixth, with 56), and he did it all in the team who finished dead last.

10: Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders)

The Tom Brady of Super Rugby, he ran the show for the Crusaders with his creative vision. A strong contender for Player of the Season, Mo’unga made some ridiculous plays with his sensational skillset, whether through sniping runs, brilliant balls or pinpoint chip and crosskicks. Reliable off the tee as well, highlighted by his flawless goal-kicking performance in the final.

9: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)

As the best example of a cheeky, mouthy scrumhalf in the modern era, he’s a polarising figure, however, there’s no doubt he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk as well. His class was best summed up in his sensational semi-final showing, in which he created a cracking try and scored one himself to give the ‘Canes a chance of upsetting the mighty Crusaders.

8: Dan du Preez (Sharks)

With his strong, relentless ball-carrying, he was the key cog in the Sharks machine, without whom the Durban side would not have qualified for the quarter-finals. The hardest-working South African player of the season, he ranked third in carries (180) and joint-ninth in offloads (19).

7: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)

As the master of the turnover, he terrorised teams and had an unrivalled impact at the breakdown, robbing sides of momentum and creating many of the Hurricanes’ counter-attacking tries. His power and pace also saw him beat 51 defenders, landing him 10th place in this category.

6: Pablo Matera (Jaguares) - Player of the Season

Was at the heart of the Jaguares uprising this season. Showed he’s arguably the most well-rounded and skilful loose forward in world rugby with clever, well-executed chip kicks to spark tries and outrageous offloads on top of exhibiting all of the traditional back-row strengths. Capped a remarkable year with a Man of the Match performance in the final.

5: RG Snyman (Bulls)

The skyscraper ran the Bulls lineout like clockwork and got through a ton of work with ball-in-hand and on defence. More than anything, he stood out with his Harlem Globetrotter-like offloads, a new wrinkle he added to his game, which he executed with great accuracy and success. Got off 23 passes in contact, the joint third-most of the season along with Matera.

4: Guido Petti Pagadizaval (Jaguares)

Ruled the skies, where he poached more balls on the opposition’s throw than any other player, carried well – especially in the final-round win over the Sunwolves when he beat a round-high eight defenders – and was a tackling Trojan.

3: Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)

Turned the scrum into an attacking weapon for the Australian Conference winners and was incredibly industrious on defence, where he consistently racked up double figures, most memorably making a whopping 19 tackles in the quarter-final win over the Sharks.

2: Malcolm Marx (Lions)

Like a lion on the prowl, he pounced at the breakdown, where his timing, technique and upper body strength saw him make a mountain of turnovers in addition to his world-class set-piece play, strong carries and hard hits. As skipper for much of the season, he led by example and steered the ship through some stormy seas.

1: Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls)

One of the breakout stars of the season. Super consistent, dependably dominant at scrum time, set off on many surging runs and like Alaalatoa, he regularly racked up double-digit tackle numbers. It’s not a matter of if but when the Bulls loosehead will run out for the Springboks.

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