Team of the tournament: Season's supernovas revealed
OPINION: The @rugby365com selectors sat down and debated, long into the night, before we finally named our stars of the season.
There is a host of exciting new players that came to the fore, but our team includes a healthy measure of veterans – showing the balance is important.
The champion Bulls provide the bulk of our team – six players in the starting XV.
The Lions and Western Province (the latter the entire front row) have three players each – with the Cheetahs, Sharks and Griquas making up the numbers (with one each).
The Sharks, runners-up, get their reward in our back-up squad, with eight players ‘bubbling under’.
The Bulls have five players in our back-up selection, with Griquas and Lions one each) making up the numbers.
Team of the Tournament – Currie Cup 2020-21
15 – Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions)
Unwanted in Cape Town, he moved to Australia and was lured to Ellis Park from Sydney. Chiefly a flyhalf before this season, but a huge success in his conversion to No.15. One to watch for the future.
Bubbling under: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)
Another great product from the Sevens Academy in Stellenbosch and a masterstroke by Jake White to make him a regular starter. One of the more successful ‘converts’ from Sevens to the XV-a-side game.
Bubbling under: Sibusiso Nkosi (Sharks)
13 – Wandisile Simelane (Lions)
He has been ‘bubbling under’ for some time, but finally cemented his spot in the Lions No.13 jersey. There is a reason why the Lions fought so hard to keep him from moving to Cape Town. Was pushed very hard by Stedman Gans for a spot in our starting XV.
Bubbling under: Stedman Gans (Bulls)
12 – Francois Steyn (Cheetahs)
The loss of Ruan Pienaar knocked the Cheetahs hard, but after a slow start, Steyn stood up and showed why he was a World Cup winner at age 19. Maybe lost a bit of his pace, but certainly none of his class. Had some serious competition from Cornal Hendricks.
Bubbling under: Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
11 – Yaw Penxe (Sharks)
One of the most astute buys by the Sharks, snapping him up from the now defunct Southern Kings. Showed why he was such a hit on the Pro14 stage and is now on the PONI list – Player Of National Interest.
Bubbling under: Eduan Keyter (Griquas)
10 – Morne Steyn (Bulls)
Like his namesake, Francois Steyn, he is a proven match winner. Also a bit slower, but as the saying goes: ‘Class is permanent.’ In what was a close contest, he just edged Curwin Bosch, who had a horror show in the Final.
Bubbling under: Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
9 – Zak Burger (Griquas)
In a position where is plenty of competition – especially with Springboks like Ivan van Zyl, Embrose Papier and Herschel Jantjies around – he ensured there will be interest from some of the bigger unions. Even showed his leadership capabilities by taking over the Kimberley team’s captaincy and in the second half of the season.
Bubbling under: Sanele Nohamba (Sharks)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
Another veteran that showed there is plenty life left in him. Also made a slow start to the season, when the chips were down in the latter stages, like good quality cream, he rose to the top. Going to be invaluable for the Springboks against the British and Irish Lions … if the series takes place.
Bubbling under: Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Sharks)
7 – Elrigh Louw (Bulls)
Another one of Jake White’s astute recruits – having signed to move to Pretoria when things started going pearshaped in Port Elizabeth. The 21-year-old started realising the potential he showed as a Baby Bok two years ago. It was in the semifinal where he showed up his closest rival, Vincent Tshituka.
Bubbling under: Vincent Tshituka (Lions)
6 – Marco van Staden (Bulls)
There is a good reason why he is in such high demand in Europe. Injuries are the reason he has not played more than just three Tests. His work on the ground is what set him apart.
Bubbling under: Dylan Richardson (Sharks)
5 – Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
Another one of the young players that started to come to the fore this season. The 22-year-old former Baby Boks has great things predicted for his future – a big physical specimen.
Bubbling under: Ruben van Heerden (Sharks)
4 – Willem Alberts (Lions)
At 36 he was one of the oldest players in the competition – bettered only by his 38-year-old teammate Jannie du Plessis. His move to lock suited his bruising game and was invaluable to the Lions’ cause.
Bubbling under: Sintu Manjezi (Bulls)
3 – Frans Malherbe (Western Province)
This position caused considerable debate, as the selectors could not make up their minds if Malherbe’s scrumming was more valuable that Trevor Nyakane’s general play. In the end Malherbe won a close call.
Bubbling under: Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Western Province)
He may have faded a bit in the latter stages of the competition, but still showed why he was so valuable to the Springboks at the 2019 World Cup. There was a strong challenge fro Johan Grobbelaar, one of the many new kids on the block.
Bubbling under: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Western Province)
Without doubt the Cape Town team’s most valuable player. His leadership skill also come in handy and he will also be a vital asset if the Lions series do get off the ground.
Bubbling under: Retshegofaditswe Nché (Sharks)
Our individual selections!
Warren Fortune XV: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Angus Opperman XV: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Kurt Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Leezil Hendricks XV: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ruben van Heerden , 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Jan de Koning XV: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Kurt Lee Arendse, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Steven Kitshoff.