James Hume and Nick Timoney have unsurprisingly made the cut for this season’s URC Dream Team, with former Ulster player Marcell Coetzee, now with the Bulls, also getting the nod in a South Africa-dominated selection.
In all, 10 players drawn from the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls have been voted onto the Dream Team, five of whom will likely be featuring against Ulster in Saturday’s Cape Town semi-final.
The Stormers’ back three of Warrick Gelant, the league’s top try scorer Leolin Zas and Seabelo Senatia have all been named alongside centre Damian Willemse and hard-carrying No.8 Evan Roos.
Munster, who were knocked out with some ease by Ulster in last week’s quarter-final, have two players in the team, scrum-half Craig Casey and lock Jean Kleyn, while champions Leinster, who are going for a fifth straight league title, have bagged themselves a mere one selection as Ross Byrne has been given the green light at out-half.
Including the in-form Hume and Timoney — Michael Lowry can consider himself unfortunate not to have been recognised, as indeed is the case with Robert Baloucoune — there are just five Irish players in the side and no representation from Scotland, Wales or indeed Italy.
As regards the heavy South African presence, few would take issue with Coetzee’s selection ahead of the Bulls skipper leading the charge in Friday’s semi-final as the visitors attempt to cause a huge upset by putting Leinster out at the RDS.
Stormers winger Zas has also been hitting the heights with nine tries in 11 games and his team-mate Roos’ strong carrying has been impressive, though such a top-heavy South African presence is sure to spark some vigorous debate.
Leinster’s eye-catching lack of input is doubtless explained by the criteria demanding that a minimum of nine games had to be played in the URC for players to be considered, with the southern province losing out here thanks to a likely combination of their considerable squad depth and the fact that most of their front-liners are involved with Ireland and the player management programme.
A panel drawn from the media made the selections after being given a shortlist of 10 players per position, provided by URC StatMaster. The player with the most votes in each position then earned their place in the team.
URC Dream Team: Warrick Gelant (Stormers), Seabelo Senatia (Stormers), James Hume (Ulster), Damian Willemse (Stormers), Leolin Zas (Stormers), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Craig Casey (Munster); Ox Nche (Sharks), Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls), Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Jean Kleyn (Munster), Ruan Nortje (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Bulls), Nick Timoney (Ulster), Evan Roos (Stormers)