The 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season has come and gone. As such, our Fresh Take writers have logged their picks in a poll to crown South Africa’s best of the best.
Dawie Boonzaaier, Joshua Brown, Benedict Chanakira, Shaun Goosen, Devin Hermanus and Daryn Katz each nominated SA’s best performer from 1 to 15 (including an overall MVP), named their top SA coach, most telling SA victory and most impressive SA try.
Fresh Take XV (votes)
15 Warrick Gelant (6)
14 Sbu Nkosi (4)
13 Lukhanyo Am (3)
12 Damian de Allende (4)
11 Aphiwe Dyantyi (6)
10 Elton Jantjies (3)
9 Cameron Wright (2)
8 Warren Whiteley (3)
7 Jean-Luc du Preez (3)
6 Kwagga Smith (3)
5 Franco Mostert (6)
4 RG Snyman (4)
3 Wilco Louw (3)
2 Malcolm Marx (6)
1 Beast Mtawarira (4)
Not surprisingly, the SA Conference champion Lions boast the largest representation with six players, the Sharks have five, and two each for the Bulls and Stormers.
Gelant, Dyantyi, Mostert and Marx were unanimous selections, each receiving six votes.
Kwagga Smith got five votes but split those with three at openside flanker and two at No 8. That’s what broke the tie for the No 6 jersey with Bulls fetcher Marco van Staden who also received three votes.
There was also a stalemate at scrumhalf and outside centre. Dewaldt Duvenage and Cameron Wright each got two votes (the other nominees were Ivan van Zyl and Ross Cronje). Wright got the nod based on the fact that the Sharks made the playoffs while the Stormers lost to the Sunwolves.
The same thinking gave Lukhanyo Am the edge over Jesse Kriel as the Fresh Takers were divided at No 13.
Jantjies won the race to start at flyhalf, with Handre Pollard (2 votes) and Rob du Preez (1) trailing. Ben Chanakira picked Jean-Luc du Preez at No 8, but the Sharks heavy packs down on the blindside with three votes enough to deny Cyle Brink (2) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (1).
Instead it’s Whiteley at the base of a scrum that’s anchored by Wilco Louw (3 votes) who just edged Thomas du Toit (2).
Mtawarira is number one in the eyes of four Fresh Takers, with Steven Kitshoff picking up two votes. But the front row is completed by the unanimous SA MVP of 2018: Malcolm Marx.
SA Super Rugby Coach of the Year went to Swys de Bruin with 5 votes. “Silenced many doubters, including this one, who questioned whether he’d be able to fill Johan Ackermann’s large shoes,” said Joshua Brown. “He duly did.”
If you’re wondering where the sixth vote went, Devin Hermanus gave it to Sharks coach Robert du Preez on the basis that he “backed his sons as part of a 2017 Currie Cup runners-up squad with an average age of 24”, and reached the playoffs.
The Best Win by an SA team was a toss-up between the Lions blanking the Waratahs 29-0 in Sydney and the Sharks clinching a 63-40 shootout against the Blues at Eden Park.
Dyantyi was nominated by five of the six for Best Try of the season and four of those were for his audacious chip-and-collect against the Waratahs in the semi-final!
FRESH TAKE is an initiative to identify, feature and develop talented rugby writers who are not yet part of the mainstream media. If that sounds like you, send us a sample of a story you’d like to write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dawie Boonzaaier: @DawiBoon
Joshua Brown: @BalcombBrown
Benedict Chanakira: @BChanakira2
Shaun Goosen: @ShaunGoosie
Devin Hermanus: @DevinMyles11
Daryn Katz: @KatzDaryn