S14 Team of the tournament

The tournament has come and gone and now we have a South African Super rugby champion for the first time in 14 years. That is why our team of the tournament is so bullish, because it was a bullish tournament with a bullish finish.

Having dominated the latter stages of the tournament and also winning the Final, albeit with a try in the dying seconds, the Bulls provides the bulk of our team.

We have five Bulls in our starting XV and another three ‘bubbling under’ – our back-up squad.

The Sharks, the losing finalists, are also well represented. They have two staring members and another four bubbling under.

The rest of our starting XV is made up from the losing semi-finalists, Crusaders and Blues, who have two each, while the Brumbies, Western Force, Highlanders and Lions make up the numbers with one member each.

We didn’t name an official captain, but it would be between John Smit (Sharks) and Victor Matfield (Bulls), who both made our starting XV.

Here’s our selection!

Team of the tournament:

15 – Julian Huxley (Brumbies):
Huxley played in a number of positions for the Brumbies and did not let his team down once. However, he really came to the fore when he moved to fullback. Drew Mitchell, Percy Montgomery, Scott Hamilton and Francois Steyn had their moments (or matches), but Huxley was simply the most consistent.
Bubbling under: Percy Montgomery (Sharks)

14 – Doug Howlett (Blues):
There is a good reason why he is back in the All Black team and it has a lot to do with his Super 14 season. If you don’t agree ask  Earl Rose about Doug Howlett if you like. Lelia Masaga also had a good campaign and Rico Gear had his moments.
Bubbling under: Lelia Masaga (Chiefs)

13 – Isaia Toeava (Blues):
Much of the Blues’ success this season had to do with his ability to break the line and set up opportunities or create space for others. Tana Umaga and Jaque Fourie did well in the early stages of the season and Waylon Murray came to the fore in the latter stages.
Bubbling under: Waylon Murray (Sharks)

12 – Matt Giteau (Western Force):
Few would doubt that Giteau was the most impressive inside centre on show, even though he played as fly-half quite often as well. Several players had good games, but other than Giteau the most outstanding was Luke McAlister.
Bubbling under: Luke McAlister (Blues)

11 – Bryan Habana (Bulls):
Without doubt the form left wing in the tournament and very few will argue with the statement that this is his best season ever. Not to mention that he scored the tournament-winning try. Apart from Habana the most consistent of the left wingers was Roy Kinikinilau
Bubbling under: Roy Kinikinilau (Chiefs)

10 – Stephen Brett (Crusaders):
With the All Blacks out for the first half of the season there were opportunities for others to make their mark. Brett showed that neither the Crusaders, nor the All Blacks need to worry about the future … there is a ready-made successor at number 10. Dan Carter, after he came back from the reconditioning camp, Stephen Larkham and Derick Hougaard (especially in the latter stages) were also outstanding.
Bubbling under: Derick Hougaard (Bulls)

9 – Fourie du Preez (Bulls):
There are suggestions that Du Preez is now the world’s premier number nine and few would argue with such a statement had they watched him throughout the tournament. Ruan Pienaar, Brendon Leonard and Heinie Adams (in the coupler of weeks that Du Preez was out injured) also left their marks on the tournament.
Bubbling under: Brendon Leonard (Chiefs)

8 – Mose Tuiali’i (Crusaders):
Often you look at a national team and wonder why certain players didn’t make it considering the form they displayed all season. Tuiali’i is just such a person. J

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