SA form team of the S15

Tank Lanning

After 6 weeks of Super Rugby, and after a few requests from the 12 regular Front Row Grunt readers, it’s time to have a look at the South African players that have caught my eye, via a Form XV.

So it is NOT the Bok side I would pick to take on England, but it would certainly influence said selection …

15 – Joe Pietersen (Stormers)
Riaan Viljoen pushes hard, especially on attack, but his iffy kicking remains a worry. Pietersen adds a lot of value via his ability to kick for poles, but has also combined well with Habana and Aplon to form a defense that is second to none.

14 – Gio Aplon (Stormers)
Bring back the pocket rocket I say. Aplon may not be the giant the Kiwis prefer to select on the wing, but he has mercurial feet and is like a bullet off the mark. He is a joy to watch. Next best would be Ryno Benjamin and Odwa Ndungane.

13 – JP Pietersen (Sharks)
Tough call between him and Juan de Jongh, with Johann Sadie also being in the mix. Yet to be convinced with Pietersen’s defense in his new position, but one cannot doubt his ability to take a gap and get his fellow players away.

12 – Tim Whitehead (Sharks)
Controversial! Especially with Jean de Villiers and Andries Strauss playing the rugby they have played this season. But Whitehead has shown an uncanny ability to read the situation amazingly well, either holding onto the ball and making yards, or slipping the pass.

11 – Willie le Roux (Cheetahs)
Good to see Bryan Habana back in form and pressing for a spot in this team, but Le Roux has been exceptional, his blistering pace and great feet being his biggest assets, but he looks competent in the air and finishes very well. Lwazi Mvovo is also causing headaches with his pace and feet.

10 – Johan Goosen (Cheetahs)
He proved in the first half of their remarkable game against the Hurricanes that he is not yet the finished product, but my word, when on song, this man is a game changer … Not only with his boot, but also his tackling and ball carrying. Both Peter Grant and Morne Steyn real contenders …

9 – Francois Hougaard (Bulls)
Perhaps not quite at his absolute best, but the Bulls were definitely a lesser side when he missed a game due to suspension. A few chirps from “Experts” suggesting that wing is his best position, but I think he is much more effective being closer to the ball. Fast and powerful, he influences games.

8 – Philip van der Walt (Cheetahs)
Perhaps the most contentious selection, especially with Pierre Spies getting back to the form that got him his first ever Bok jersey, but Van der Walt has been stellar for the Bloem boys. A proper lineout option, he clears very effectively and carries the ball strongly.

7 – Jacques Potgieter (Bulls)
Perhaps aided by the fact that Duane Vermeulen has played both 8 and 7 this year, and that Willem Alberts made a late (but sensational) entry to the tournament, but Potgieter gives it absolutely everything for every minute of the game, and has been excellent for the Bulls.

6 – Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs)
Siya Kolisi has been a revelation for the Stormers, but to my mind, your open-sider needs to be more of a fetcher than a carrier, and Brussow is a fetcher extraordinaire. He changes games with his steals, slowing down of opposition ball, and speeding up his own side’s recycling of the ball.

5 – Juandre Kruger (Bulls)
Pushed hard by both Jandre Marais and Andries Bekker for a place in this side, Kruger has been both athletic and powerful in a Bulls pack that has proven that there is a lot of life after Matfield, Botha and Rossouw.

4 – Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)
Flip van der Merwe is playing good rugby, but no one can touch Etzebeth at the moment … To my mind the player responsible for the Stormers log position at the moment. Aggressive and strong, he is the grunt in this new and improved Stormers pack. A Bok legend in the making.

3 – Werner Kruger (Bulls)
It’s been a problem position for the Boks for a while now, and with none of the S15 tightheads standing particularly tall this year, it continues to be a problem. Brok Harris is scrumming better than he has done so for a while, but Kruger is solid come scrum time and gets his donkey work done.

2 – Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
One of the form players of the tournament, let alone the SA sides. The captaincy seems to suit this fiery hooker, and he is leading by example. His basics are top notch, hence the Cheetahs scrum and lineout going well, but round the park he is like another loose forward.

1 – Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs)
Not only is he right up there with the best poachers of a rugby ball, he is also carrying the ball amazingly well and perhaps most importantly, scrumming powerfully and not giving away the penalties he was giving away last year. Dean Greyling would push hard for a spot in the side, and Steven Kitshoff is coming along very well indeed.

Yet another try for Coenie ...

Last weekend’s teams …
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Bench: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman.

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Freddie Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Louis Ludik.

Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Butch James, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Bench: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbleaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard , 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 JJ Engelbrecht

This week’s fixtures:

05 April – 11:40 Rebels v Blues, AAMI Park, Melbourne
06 April – 09:35 Hurricanes v Sharks, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
06 April – 11:40 Reds v Brumbies, Brisbane
06 April – 13:40 Force v Chiefs, NIB Stadium, Perth
07 April – 09:35 Highlanders v Stormers, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
07 April – 15:00 Cheetahs v Lions, Bloemfontein
07 April – 17:05 Bulls v Crusaders, Pretoria


  1. Very bold, but on form you are spot on. Unfortunately, the selectors don’t have your balls and it will be same old donkeys.

  2. Tank I’m loving the fact you have 6 Cheetahs in your side. I said it at the start of the season, and despite our bad start I’ll say it again … Cheetahs are dark horse contenders this year! Way to early to tell of course but here’s hoping I’m right!

    1. Not sure about contenders TGM, but playing great rugby that is worth getting up for. Mix them with a couple of players from the stormers and Bulls, and you get a Bok side who could run the ball!

      1. Tank, also not sure about ‘contenders’ as its a long season, but I have to believe. Besides, stranger things have happened!

        An additional thought on your team … no less than 5 Grey Bloem old boys, and guys like Frans Steyn are not even there 😉

  3. Given the Stormers strong defence this season fitting in perfectly with the rules, i find it extremely hard to believe that you leave out someone like vermuelen and koilisi. Juandre kruger has been good, but bekker has done the lock job, not the all over the park job.

    with peterson and whitehead in the middle, you will concede many tries, especially with your loose forward defence being average

    1. Fair points, but remember I am not picking a side here, just the players I believe to have shown the best form in each position. Vermeulen and Kolisi get mentions and I give reasons why I did not select them …

  4. I will pick a team with not a single player that you have selected.
    Here is my XV to take on yours, lets see what the readers think.

    15 : Daniller
    14 : Mvovo
    13 : Ebherson
    12 : JDV (c)
    11 : Habana
    10 : Morne Steyn
    9 : Charl McLeod
    8 : Vermuelen
    7 : Strauss
    6 : Koilisi
    5 : Bekker
    4 : Franco vd Merwe
    3 : Jannie du Plessis
    2 : Bismark du Plessis
    1 : Steven Kitshoff

    1. I think my side would win, but the point you make is a good one – Meyer has a mountain of talent to choose from …

    2. No fetcher? I know the Stormers are winning without one but it is not advisable.

  5. Tank, you will know more about this than me, but I get the impression not only this season so far but last as well, that Werner Kruger gets penalised a lot for illegal scrumming – either losing his bind, coming up or going in – is this not a sign of a prop coming under pressure? He is not the only SA prop in my opinion guilty of this.

    1. To be honest, Neil, I have not picked up that Kruger is especially guilty of this. WP Nel probably the most penalised tighthead at the moment … But tighthead is a position where we are a little thin. Jannie du Plessis would still be my Bok pick. Solid if not earth shattering

    1. Tough one, but how good has Le Roux been? Some good wings in the mix at the moment …

  6. Not a bad choice, yet how do you choose Jacque Potgieter over Marcell Coetzee. And regarding Etzebeth, the young man is a monster! I really want to dislike him because he hails from the Streep Truie, yet he is just too damn good!!!

  7. OK so its bit off topic but what about this team:
    15 Pat Lambie
    14 Gio Aplon
    13 JP Pietersen
    12 Frans Steyn (he is coming home in June)
    11. Bryan Habana of Mvovo
    10. Johan Goosen
    9. Francios Hougaard
    8. Duane Vermeulen
    7. Willem Alberts (Schalk as reg is)
    6. H Brussow
    5. Andries Bekker
    4. Eben Etzebeth
    3. Werner Kruger(niemand in sa eintlik nie)
    2. Bismark Du Plessis
    1. Coenie Oosthuizen

    So it’s not strickly speaking S15 only but FSteyn will be playing for the Sharks after June tests.
    This team might just win a World Cup in 2015

    1. Bloody good side … And still got Strauss, Beast/Jannie, Kruger/Vd Merwe, Alberts/Burger, McLoed, De Villiers, Habana/Mvovo on the bench!

    2. Music to my ears to see someone else have Lambie at Full Back – have watched him since he was 16 when he moved from 10 to 15, a position where he displays all his rugby talent.

    3. Great side, this. My only change would be make space for both Alberts and Schalk (at 7 and 8, or vice versa). I think having them both on the field along with Brussouw would be ideal.

  8. hi tank,
    i know wynand is not much-loved outside of pretoria, but i reckon he’s been good enough to at least get a mention.

    against the cheetahs, when playing outside he made rob ebersohn his bunny. and he had a cracker against the reds as well. granted, wasn’t the greatest opposition, but he still delivered.

    and while he might not have featured all that much this past weekend, neither did sadie, JDV or JDJ. they all just did the hard yards, without being spectacular. i would go as far as to say that sadie was the poorest of them all.

    1. Haha, watch a Bulls Stormers game in Longstreet sometime and you will see that we respect him, we just have a go at him because of his hair

  9. I’m a little surprized you didn’t go for Marcel Coetzee but in terms of loose forwards its really impossible to choose, there is an absolute abundance of talent, and thats with Burger and Deysel not having played much yet.

    Joe Pietersen is too selfish, is slightly suspect on defense and is not actually a very good goal kicker. Taute hasn’t played much at 15 this season but surely he would be a better choice?

  10. Heres my team, Tank.

    15 – Riaan Viljoen
    14 – Gio Aplon
    13 – Juan de Jongh
    12 – Jean de Villiers
    11 – Lwazi Mvovo
    10 – Johan Goosen
    9 – Francois Hougaard
    8 – Duane Vermeulen
    7 – Rynhardt Elstadt
    6 – Heinrich Brussouw
    5 – Juandre Kruger
    4 – Eben Etzebeth
    3 – Jannie du Plessis
    2 – Bismarck du Plessis
    1 – Coenie Oosthuizen

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