DYLAN JACK identifies the standout South African players based on performances throughout the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament.
In the final round of Super Rugby Unlocked the Vodacom Bulls claimed the title with a hard-fought 21-5 win over the Pumas in Pretoria, after leading 21-0 at the break. Meanwhile, the Cheetahs ended the season in fourth place after claiming a 28-9 bonus-point victory over Griquas in tough conditions in Kimberley.
Unfortunately, the round’s third match was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as the much-hyped clash between the Stormers and Sharks in Durban had to be called off after the Sharks returned positive tests among their tighthead props. This meant that the Stormers ended the tournament in second place, ahead of the third-placed Sharks on points difference.
Of course, the Bulls’ consistency in the competition means that they dominate the team of the season, with nine players overall. This includes wing Travis Ismaiel, the centre pair of Stedman Gans and Cornal Hendricks, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, the back row of Duane Vermeulen, Elrigh Louw and Marco van Staden and the second row pairing of Ruan Nortje and Jason Jenkins.
The Stormers have four representatives in fullback Warrick Gelant, who beat 19 defenders (rank one), made 50 carries (rank two) and 15 offloads (rank one) this season, as well as their Springbok front row of Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff.
Meanwhile, there is one player each from the Sharks and Cheetahs. Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who finished the season as the top-scorer with 63 points, makes it in as does Cheetahs wing Rosko Specman, who finished the season with four tries (rank two).
SUPER RUGBY UNLOCKED TEAM OF THE SEASON
15 Warrick Gelant (Stormers)
14 Travis Ismaiel (Bulls)
13 Stedman Gans (Bulls)
12 Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
11 Rosko Specman (Cheetahs)
10 Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
9 Ivan van Zyl (Bulls)
8 Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
7 Elrigh Louw (Bulls)
6 Marco van Staden (Bulls)
5 Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
4 Jason Jenkins (Bulls)
3 Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
2 Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers)
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix