JON CARDINELLI picks a South African XV based on performances in the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Super Rugby season is over as far as the South African franchises are concerned.
The Vodacom Bulls went down 35-28 to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday. The Sharks were handed a rugby lesson by the Brumbies in their 38-13 loss in Canberra.
The Lions and Stormers did not qualify for the playoffs.
The Springboks will be bolstered by a number of overseas-based players in the lead-up to the Rugby Championship. A South African side picked on Super Rugby form, however, might look something like the one below.
It remains to be seen if loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka will go to the World Cup if Beast Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff are fit. Gqoboka has played well for the Bulls this season, and deserves an opportunity in the Rugby Championship.
Carlü Sadie has been one of the strongest scrummagers in the tournament. Malcolm Marx cracks the nod on the back of his outstanding all-round contributions. That said, special mention should go to Stormers No 2 Bongi Mbonambi.
The Bulls lineout was on point for much of the campaign. Locks Jason Jenkins and RG Snyman got through a lot of work around the park, with the latter ranked third in the tournament for offloads (28).
Jaco Coetzee lent the Stormers some mongrel whether he started at No 6 and 8. Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden and Pieter-Steph du Toit were also considered for selection following their consistent performances.
Dan du Preez was the standout No 8 for much of the competition. One couldn’t ignore Duane Vermeulen’s contributions at the lineout, collisions and breakdowns, though. There’s room in this side for both, with Du Preez packing down at 8 and Vermeulen at 7.
The Bulls juggled their scrumhalves over the course of the season, with Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl and André Warner all getting game time. None of those players, however, made as big an impact as Herschel Jantjies.
Handré Pollard was the best South African flyhalf on show. With a tally of 194, Pollard looks set to finish the tournament as the top points-scorer.
The toughest calls to make were in midfield and in the back three. No inside centre has set the competition alight.
In the end, Damian de Allende was favoured on the back of some improved performances for the Stormers. Burger Odendaal blew hot and cold for the Bulls, while André Esterhuizen was largely one-dimensional for the Sharks.
Lukhanyo Am made a big impact for the Sharks in the first few weeks of Super Rugby and continued to shine as the tournament progressed. Jesse Kriel played some of his best rugby for the Bulls this season. If Kriel had avoided a serious ankle injury, he may have pushed Am for a starting spot.
It’s a positive sign that the Boks’ two best No 13 options have found form. Rassie Erasmus certainly doesn’t want for back-three players at present.
The selection at fullback is bound to raise a few eyebrows. Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse and Aphelele Fassi all made an impression this season.
Some will argue that Curwin Bosch deserves to be at No 10 instead of at No 15. I agree that Bosch should have started at flyhalf regularly for the Sharks ahead of Rob du Preez Jnr. I don’t think he’s done enough to displace Pollard, though.
There’s room for both here, with Pollard at No 10 and Bosch offering excellent kicking and attacking options from the No 15 position.
Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi may start for the Boks in the big Tests this year. Makazole Mapimpi and the returning Cheslin Kolbe should get an opportunity or two in the Rugby Championship.
Has Cornal Hendricks done enough to get a look-in?
There’s no doubt that Hendricks – after fighting back from illness – has done enough to warrant the Comeback of the Year accolade. He was one of the better South African players under the high ball. As seen by his attacking performance against the Hurricanes in Wellington, he still has a special finishing ability.
Erasmus may decide that he has sufficient options in Dyantyi, Nkosi, Mapimpi and Kolbe. If there is an injury crisis, however, Erasmus would do well to give Hendricks a call.
SA SUPER RUGBY TEAM OF THE SEASON
15. Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
14. Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
13. Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
11. Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)
10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
9. Herschel Jantjies (Stormers)
8. Dan du Preez (Sharks)
7. Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
6. Jaco Coetzee (Stormers)
5. RG Snyman (Bulls)
4. Jason Jenkins (Bulls)
3. Carlü Sadie (Lions)
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
1. Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls)
Photo: Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images