JON CARDINELLI takes a look at an overall South African Form XV after seven rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby.
Super Rugby has been put on hold due to rising concerns around the coronavirus. At this point, it’s hard to know when – or even if – the 2020 edition tournament will resume.
Which players have stood out for the South African teams during the first seven rounds of the competition? Based on recent selections in our regular SA Team of the Week feature, the following are deserving of a place in South Africa’s Form XV.
It’s important to note that no overseas-based players were considered. One would expect a whole host of Springboks based in Europe, the UK and Japan to form part of the national set-up later this year.
The Sharks were the best-placed South African side after seven rounds. Sean Everitt’s side won six of its seven matches, a fine record that includes three wins on a four-game tour of Australasia.
The interplay between their forwards and backs has been a highlight this season and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see as many as nine of Everitt’s charges in the Form XV below.
Fullback Aphelele Fassi has been one of the stars of the competition. Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen have been influential of defence and attack. All three of these Sharks players have featured six out of a possible seven times in the SA Team of the Week in 2020.
Other regulars include Curwin Bosch and Sikhumbuzo Notshe (five appearances each). Bosch has been the most consistent of the South African flyhalves on show – and has been particularly impressive on attack and in front of goal. Notshe’s speed, awareness and handling skills have suited the Sharks’ game plan.
Up until recently, the Stormers boasted one of the most dominant packs in the tournament. Their scrum has been their strength – take a bow Steven Kitshoff and company – and men like Salmaan Moerat have been immense at the collisions and breakdowns.
Pieter-Steph du Toit, the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, began the 2020 season with a bang. James Venter is another player who has taken his game forward since joining the Sharks.
The Bulls and Lions have battled for consistency in 2020. The individuals from these teams have struggled to make an impression – with one notable exception.
Rosko Specman has been a shining light for the Bulls. Sharks and Bok star Makazole Mapimpi has been the most consistent wing in South Africa, though, and has featured in this lineup on four occasions.
SA FORM XV (after seven rounds)
15 Aphelele Fassi (Sharks, six picks)
14 Rosko Specman (Bulls, three picks)
13 Lukhanyo Am (Sharks, six picks)
12 Andre Esterhuizen (Sharks, six picks)
11 Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks, four picks)
10 Curwin Bosch (Sharks, five picks)
9 Herschel Jantjies (Stormers, three picks)
8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Sharks, five picks)
7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers, four picks)
6 James Venter (Sharks, three picks)
5 Hyron Andrews (Sharks, three picks)
4 Salmaan Moerat (Stormers, five picks)
3 Thomas du Toit (Sharks, three picks)
2 Scarra Ntubeni (Stormers, three picks)
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers, four picks)
Photo: EPA/GERHARD DURAN