The best South African XV in the Pro 14

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    It was recently announced that the Kings and Cheetahs will be joining the Pro 12 competition in Europe. Therefore, it’s time to look at how many players from the two teams would make a combined South African-qualified Pro 14 team.

    1. Ox Nché (The Cheetahs)
    He is far quicker than a man of his dimensions should be. One of the most impressive players at the 2015 under-20 World Cup. Built like a tank, Ox Nché edges out Ulster’s Schalk van der Merwe and Southern King’s captain Schalk Ferreira as the best South African loosehead in next year’s pro 14.

    2. Mike Willemse (The Kings)
    The Capetonian has impressed as the starting hooker at the Kings. Willemse carries with the type of grunt you would expect for all South African-born hookers. Like Ox Nché, he has represented South Africa at underage level for South Africa Under-20.

    3. Ross Geldenhuys (The Kings)
    Anybody who has played for a team called the Mighty Elephants (now known as the Eastern Province Kings) is alright with me. To complete the front row, we have Geldenhuys. Picked ahead of Ulster’s Wiehan Herbst for his slightly better scrummaging.

    4. Jean Kleyn (Munster)
    The tighthead lock weighs in at 125kg and stands at 2.03 metres tall. Nicknamed “The Destroyer”, Kleyn has also played for the Stormers. Has the same type of physicality as his former teammate Eben Etzebeth. Arguably, Munster’s best signing since Cj Stander.

    5. Gerbrandt Grobler (Munster)
    Another Munster and former Stormers lock, renowned for his physicality. Expectations are high that Grobler can translate his impressive form at Racing 92 to Munster. Not as physical as Kleyn, but offers more subtlety in the carry.

    6. Chris Cloete (Munster)
    Cloete is a traditional seven, first to every breakdown and links play well between the forwards and the backs. He won the most around of turnovers(34) in this season’s Super rugby competition. Will face stiff competition from Tommy O’Donnell for the seven jersey next season.

    7. Marcell Coetzee (Ulster)
    Has close to 30 caps for the Springboks and seems to have bulked up during his short time at Ulster. Ulster are yet to see the 28-times capped Coetzee at his best, due to a number of knee injuries.

    8. Jean Deaysel (Ulster)
    Another South African International currently at Ulster. Has experience of playing in the second row and carries strongly like all South African backrowers. Deaysel completes what is a pretty balanced back row.

    9. Louis Schreuder (The Kings)
    One of a few positions with not many options. Sarel Pretorius the only non-South African based player in the running. Schreuder gets the nod for his ability to break the line.

    10. Fred Zeilinga (The Cheetahs)
    Lionel Cronjé was the obvious choice here, but he is leaving the Kings to join the Toyota Verblitz, in Japan. Another South African fly-half Marnitz Boshoff, has left Connacht. That leaves Zeilinga, a diminutive fly-half that takes the ball to the gain line.

    11. Hanno Dirksen (Ospreys)
    With Raymond Rhule expected to join the Stormers, Dirksen was the obvious choice. The powerful winger is the only player on this team, to have never played professional rugby in South Africa. Hanno Dirksen has been one of the most improved players at the Ospreys, since joining in 2009.

    12. Jaco Taute (Munster)
    Came to Munster in the middle of last season, as a medical joker for Francis Saili. Taute was at the heart of Munster’s aggressive defence under Jacques Nienaber. His best position is 13, but he can also play as a fullback and as an inside centre.

    13. Francois Venter (Cheetahs)
    The centre made his debut against England in 2016. Venter offers pace and try-scoring ability. Like many players from the Cheetahs and Kings, Venter could surprise some Northern Hemisphere fans with his attacking abilities.

    14. Sergeal Petersen (Cheetahs)
    The Cheetahs will be hoping they can hang onto him because he has the speed and finishing-ability to worry all pro 14 sides next season. Big things are expected of Petersen, having represented South Africa at underage level. The 22-year-old has also played for The Kings and The Eastern Province Kings.

    15. Louis Ludik (Ulster)
    Has proven to be great value for money at Ulster. Despite having back-three options such as Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne, Ludik has more than held his own. At times he has even pushed Payne into the outside centre position. Ludik will continue to impress South African viewers.

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