Super Rugby
Super Rugby Team of the Season
ESPN Staff
June 16, 2015
The Hurricanes successful season has seen many players make the Team of the Year © Getty Images
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With the 2015 Super Rugby regular season coming to an end and the final six sides coming together to fight for the title of 2015 Super Rugby Champions, the writers at ESPN have settled on their Super Rugby Team of the Year. After 120 regular season games Greg Growden, Brett McKay, Sam Bruce and Brittany Mitchell have compiled their teams of the year and, with the help of Opta Stats, have settled on a final XV.

In a tough season some positions were easily filled while others took more time and prompted much discussion. Some big names unfortunately missed out on the list while others received honourable mentions for their efforts throughout the year.

New Zealand provided the most players, with an all-Kiwi backline named, while South Africa and Australia struggled to make a mark on the list with only one Australian making the cut. Be sure to have your say on the Team of the Season in the comments bellow.

Fullback: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

Ben Smith is considered the in form fullback of Super Rugby © Getty Images
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A unanimous selection, Ben Smith was the standout fullback of 2015. Making barnstorming runs and huge tackles, Smith ripped apart opposition defences and is known to make try-saving tackles. Making on average nine clean breaks and over 70 run metres per match, Smith is sure to play a huge role in the Highlanders' play-off run.

Wing: Waisake Naholo (Highlanders)

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Scoring the second most tries of the season (9), making the second most clean breaks (26), and third most run metres (1200), Waisake Naholo has been one of this season's best. Having an impressive season out wide, Naholo arguably the premier finisher in Super Rugby and his speed and athleticism helped build the Highlanders into a fierce backline.

Honourable Mention: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)

Surely the rookie of the year, Nehe Milner-Skudder burst onto the scene with some amazing line breaks, tries and try-assists. Milner-Skudder is certain to continue his Super Rugby rise.

Outside Centre: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

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Part of a combination that has made easy work of the competition throughout 2015, Conrad Smith was the obvious choice for outside centre. Scoring three tries during the season, Smith has been a constant threat to the opposition defence and his ability to link up with fellow centre Ma'a Nonu has created an almost unstoppable centre pairing. But it's not just his attacking skills that amaze, but also his strength in defence that helped the Hurricanes secure their place at the top of the table.

Inside Centre: Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes)

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The second half to the Hurricanes pairing, Ma'a Nonu is a fierce competitor and physical opponent who makes sure to make his presence felt around the field. The competition leader in line break assists, Nonu is dynamic in attack making plenty of snipping runs and quick offloads. But his defence shouldn't be forgotten. Making huge tackles, Nonu is certainly a player to avoid and his combination with Conrad Smith make them almost unbeatable in the centres.

Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

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Only one try behind the try-scoring leader, Nemani Nadolo has had another impressive year on the Crusaders wing. With the most clean breaks (28), and try-assists (8), Nadolo's attacking ability can't be questioned and his amazing footwork as well as tackle busting ability has seen him make easy work of several sides' defence. But he's also been key in defence, making plenty of try-saving tackles.

Fly-half: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)

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Taking charge of the best attacking backline of the 2015 season, Beauden Barrett has led his troops with ease. Scoring three tries of his own, Barrett has been instrumental in setting up several more for his side. With pace to burn and a great passing game, Barrett has made several cutting runs throughout the season, with 29 tackle busts and an average over 70 run metres a game; he's definitely been the standout fly-half of the season.

Honourable Mention: Dan Carter (Crusaders)

He only played fly-half for a handful of games, but Dan Carter showed why he is still among the best in the world. Sliding back into his favoured position, Carter quickly took control of the backline and displayed finesse in his final matches for the Crusaders.

Half-back: Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

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The standout performer of half-backs, Aaron Smith was a popular choice among our analysts and his strong passing game is just one reason why. Always sure to give a little niggle, Smith is a skilful distributor as well as a great reader of the play and has a strong ability to create try scoring opportunities. Making plenty of line breaks and line breaks assists, Smith has been a huge part of the Highlanders' success this season.

Honourable Mention: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) Scoring the most tries (10) this season, TJ Perenara's snipping runs and strong passing game make him one of the seasons best.

No.8: Warren Whiteley (Lions)

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Highly respected by his team-mates, Warren Whiteley is one of the best performers in the back row in 2015. A hard worker, Whiteley is constantly seen around the park making his presence known, making on average a huge 13 tackles per game. Outstanding in defence, Whiteley has also impressed in attack, making plenty of line breaks and line break assists and his leadership has helped the Lions to one of their best seasons.

Honourable Mention: Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)

In his final year of Super Rugby, Scott Higginbotham has been the driving force behind the Rebels' success this season. A leader in defence, with plenty of hard hitting tackles, and hard to stop in attack, Higginbotham has been impressive in 2015.

Openside Flanker: David Pocock (Brumbies)

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After close to two years on the sideline, David Pocock made a stunning return and was the clear standout of the openside flankers. Strong over the ball and huge in defence, Pocock has been in headlines all year and is sure to make his return to the Wallaby fold this season. Although he was sidelined for a short time with an ankle injury, Pocock played in 12 matches, scoring eight tries during the season, including hat-ticks against the Force and Highlanders.

Blindside Flanker: Jaco Kriel (Lions)

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With strength, pace and great ball handling, Jaco Kriel has been one of the best throughout the season. Hard in defence, Kriel is fourth in the competition for forced penalties (7), eighth in pilfers (6) and makes an average of eight tackles per game. Scoring four tries this season, his pace and ability to break tackles make him a hard player to stop when he makes his move for the tryline.

Lock: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)

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One of this season's best locks, Sam Whitelock was a nuisance during opposition lineouts while also staying strong to win his own. A tall, physical player, Whitelock has been impressive for the Crusaders in both attack and defence with his ability to bust through tackles and his strength in the breakdown. He also scored what is sure to be among the trie- of the season with a great 60 metre dash through the Reds' defence.

Lock: James Broadhurst (Hurricanes)

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A hard-working player, James Broadhurst has been a strong asset to the Hurricanes pack. With a strong ball-winning ability at both the breakdown and the lineout, Broadhurst helped power the Hurricanes to top spot. Despite missing games through injury and suspension, Broadhurst has been an integral part in the Hurricanes' run to the play-offs and will be an important cog in the final series.

Honourable Mention: Will Skelton (Waratahs)

A tackle-busting mammoth, Will Skelton has had another strong year for the Waratahs, despite some on-field indiscretions. Skelton has made a habit of destroying rolling mauls while also producing some strong runs in attack.

Tighthead Prop: Ben Franks (Hurricanes)

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With the ability to play on both sides of the scrum, Ben Franks has enjoyed a fine 2015 season. With strong scrummaging skills, Franks has helped the Hurricanes top the Super Rugby table with a 95% success rate at scrum time. But he may need to watch his discipline, coming ninth in the competition for penalties conceded.

Honourable Mention: Greg Holmes (Reds)

Playing some of his best rugby for several years, Greg Holmes has returned to the Wallabies mix and is arguably the form Australian tighthead prop of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Hooker: Dane Coles (Hurricanes)

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Yet another Hurricanes player, Dane Coles has been huge for the table-topping side. A tireless worker, Coles is always in the thick of the action and with pace to burn, has made several line breaks throughout the season with over 15 tackle busts and three tries to his name. But it's also his defence that makes him a menacing opponent, making an average seven tackles a game.

Loosehead Prop: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)

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Another of the best scrummagers in the competition, Kitshoff was unanimously named. A hard-working prop, Kitshoff has been determined and played hard throughout the season to return to the starting role after injuries cut short his 2014 season. Only young, Kitshoff has been impressive and will need to continue that form against the Brumbies this weekend.

Greg Growden's Team of the Year:

Bulls' Handre Pollard is pulled down by the defence, Blues v Bulls, Super Rugby, Eden Park, Auckland, May 15, 2015
Handre Pollard was pipped by Beauden Barrett in the final list © Getty Images
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Fullback: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

Outside Centre: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

Inside Centre: Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes)

Wing: Julian Savea (Hurricanes)

Fly-half: Handre Pollard (Bulls)

Scrum-half: Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

No. 8:Scott Higgonbotham (Rebels)

Openside Flanker:David Pocock (Brumbies)

Blindside Flanker: Liam Messam (Chiefs)

Lock: Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)

Lock: Will Skelton (Waratahs)

Tighthead Prop: Ben Franks (Crusaders)

Hooker: Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)

Loosehead Prop: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)

Sam Bruce's Team of the Year:

TJ Perenara goes over for a try for the Hurricanes,  Hurricanes v Blues, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, April 18, 2014tty Images)
TJ Perenara was the leading try scorer for the competition © Getty Images
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Fullback: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

Wing: Waisake Naholo (Highalnders)

Outside Centre: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

Inside Centre: Ma'a Nonu (hurricanes)

Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

Fly-half: Beauden Barrett (hurricanes)

Scrum-half: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)

No. 8: Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)

Openside Flanker: David Pocock (Brumbies)

Blindside Flanker: Jaco Kriel (Lions)

Lock: James Broadhurst (Hurricanes)

Lock: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)

Tighthead Prop: Ben Franks (Crusaders)

Hooker: Stephen Moore (Brumbies)

Loosehead Prop: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)

Brett McKay's Team of the Year:

Manawatu's Nehe Milner-Skudder makes a break, Manawatu v Bay of Plenty, ITM Cup, FMG Stadium, Palmerston North, September 3, 2014
Nehe Milner-Skudder has had a standout year for the Hurricanes © Getty Images
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Fullback: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

Wing: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)

Outside Centre: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

Inside Centre: Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes)

Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

Fly-half: Dan Carter (Crusaders)

Scrum-half: Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

No. 8: Warren Whiteley (Lions)

Openside Flanker: David Pocock (Brumbies)

Blindside Flanker: Jaco Kriel (Lions)

Lock: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)

Lock: Will Skelton (Waratahs)

Tighthead Prop: Greg Holmes (Reds)

Hooker: Dane Coles (Hurricanes)

Loosehead Prop: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)

Brittany Mitchell's Team of the Year:

The Waratahs' Stephen Hoiles and Nick Phipps congratulate Dave Dennis, Chiefs v New South Wales Waratahs, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, May 31, 2014
Dave Dennis was huge for the Waratahs but didn't make the cut alongside fellow Waratah Will Skelton © Getty Images
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Fullback: Ben Smith (Highlanders)

Wing: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)

Outside Centre: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

Inside Centre: Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes)

Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

Fly-half: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)

Scrum-half: Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

No. 8: Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)

Openside Flanker: David Pocock (Brumbies)

Blindside Flanker: Jaco Kriel (Lions)

Lock: Dave Dennis (Waratahs)

Lock: Will Skelton (Waratahs)

Tighthead Prop: Greg Holmes (Reds)

Hooker: Dane Coles (Hurricanes)

Loosehead Prop: Steven Kitshoff (Lions)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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