Fans cast more than 20 000 votes in picking a Team of the Season from the Vodacom United Rugby Championship’s South African conference.
SA Rugby magazine readers queued for their favourite players in the polls and selected a team made up of the best-performing players from the local franchises.
The lineup is dominated by players from SA’s best performing franchises – the Vodacom Bulls and Stormers – who both finished inside the URC’s top four and will host quarter-final fixtures.
Overall, there are seven players from the fourth-placed Bulls and six from the Stormers, who finished the overall campaign in second.
There are only two players from the other two South African franchises: the Lions’ Morne van den Berg and Sharks tighthead prop Thomas du Toit.
Fullback Warrick Gelant and wings Madosh Tambwe and Leolin Zas were clear favourites in their positions, despite strong performances from Kurt-Lee Arendse, Makazole Mapimpi and Seabelo Senatla this season. Cornal Hendricks and Lukhanyo Am went neck-and-neck for the outside centre position, with the former only taking it by a handful of votes.
URC top-scorer Manie Libbok earned 32% of the vote, compared to Jordan Hendrikse’s 7% to take the No 10 jersey in the team. Vincent Tshituka and turnover king Deon Fourie were both strong competitors for the blindside and openside flank roles, but lost out to Elrigh Louw and Marcell Coetzee respectively.
There was no place for Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who was outmuscled by the Bulls’ Johan Grobbelaar by 3% of votes.
Readers’ URC Team of the Season:
15 Warrick Gelant (Stormers)
14 Madosh Tambwe (Bulls)
13 Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
12 Damian Willemse (Stormers)
11 Leolin Zas (Stormers)
10 Manie Libbok (Stormers)
9 Morne van den Berg (Lions)
8 Evan Roos (Stormers)
7 Elrigh Louw (Bulls)
6 Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)
5 Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
4 Walt Steenkamp (Bulls)
3 Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
2 Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)