Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Three Stormers players – Jaque Fourie, Schalk Burger and Andries Bekker – have earned positional nods by massive margins in the South African Super Rugby Dream Team for Week 10 of the competition.
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Sport24 readers were particularly adamant, as this was written, about Fourie’s right to wear the No 13 jersey (91 percent of votes), Burger the No 6 shirt (89 percent) and Bekker the No 5 lock jersey (88 percent).
Hardly surprisingly, considering that the conference-leading Cape side beat the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, the next-placed Sharks had a bye and the rest of the South African teams in action only encountered grief, the latest XV is dominated by Stormers representatives – 10 of them, in total.
Joining the stalwart three in the line-up are Conrad Jantjes at fullback, Danie Poolman at right wing, Juan de Jongh as Fourie’s midfield partner, Burger’s loose forward colleagues Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen, and front-row men CJ van der Linde and Deon Fourie.
The Lions’ gutsy showing, despite the 33-19 scoreline, isn’t enough to earn that franchise a single representative, although the Cheetahs’ loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen and in-form scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius (he won’t often score a hat-trick of tries and still be on the losing side) crack the nod after the 50-47 nerve-jangler against the Hurricanes in Bloemfontein.
Similarly the bumbling champions, the Bulls, have the consolation of Morne Steyn and Bjorn Basson doing enough to earn backline berths despite the defeat to the Reds in Brisbane.
Incredibly, Bakkies Botha earns approval for the No 4 jersey (42 percent of votes) despite his wretched form: were there really no worthier South African second-rowers at the weekend, readers?
One imagines Botha sneaked in more on “sentimental” grounds, because he was again lethargic at Suncorp Stadium and came off for an immediately more lively Danie Rossouw in the 50th minute.
The overall SA Dream Team keeps a slightly more balanced look, given that Sharks players obviously come back into the mix there: they keep four pack members, for instance, plus Lwazi Mvovo at left wing, even if his own form has been less convincing than last year’s thus far.
The Stormers nevertheless still boss seven berths, with Bulls players Botha, Fourie du Preez and Gerhard van den Heever completing the side.
It is Sharks men, though, who boast the two best percentages of support in their respective positions: hooker Bismarck du Plessis hogs 77 percent of backing there, and barnstorming blindside flank Willem Alberts has 58 percent for the No 7 jersey.