An enthralling inaugural Pro14 season came to a close at the weekend with Leinster finishing top of the pile. We highlight the standout performers with our Team of the Year.
With Leinster having claimed the European and domestic double, we say a fond farewell to an incredible season of rugby. The Guinness Pro14 has seen a welcomed change this year with the introduction of two South African teams and the conferences system as a result.
Although the Kings failed to make a definitive impact on the league, the Cheetahs earned a place in the knockout stages of the competition and although they were beaten by last season’s champions, they deserved a place in the quarter finals and more than validated their presence in the league.
Criteria For Selection
The criteria that made players eligible for selection to our Team of the Year was that they needed to play at least ten games in the league, the same selection criteria for the competition’s official PRO14 ‘Dream Team’.
The ten-appearance criteria ruled out players like, Jonathan Sexton, Dan Leavy, Hamish Watson, Stuart Hogg and Leigh Halfpenny.
Here is our team of the season.
1) Ox Nche – Cheetahs
Deservedly received a call up to the Sprinboks, Nche has been fantastic for the Cheetahs all year. With a low centre of gravity, Nche is a powerhouse at set piece and in the loose.
2) Sean Cronin – Leinster
At 32 years of age, Cronin shows no signs of slowing down. Branded as an impact player early in his career, Cronin has cemented himself in this Leinster team and is integral to their continuous phase play.
3) Dmitri Arhip – Ospreys
Ospreys had a disappointing season, however Moldovan international Arhip locked down their scrum all season, as he has done so since 2012.
Can leave for France happy knowing he did his side proud in his final season.
4) Tadhg Beirne – Scarlets
With the most turnovers in the league with 37, Beirne is potentially the best signing in Scarlets history.
The soon-to-be Munster second row is athletic, powerful and puts everything into each game having sat on the Leinster sideline for years.
5) Scott Fardy – Leinster
A master at deconstructing opposition mauls, the Australian international has been terrific all year.
A true workhorse, who can produce moments of magic when required, Fardy seems to have settled into Leinster life seamlessly, trophies will do that for you.
6) Magnus Bradbury – Edinburgh
Lots of competition for this spot on the team, with a number of Italians impressing but Bradbury takes the gong after his consistently impressive performances after his embarrassing probation period earlier this season.
The 22-year-old somewhat redeemed himself after refocusing his attention on putting in hard work on the field and was an important cog in Edinburgh’s push to the knock out stages.
7) Callum Gibbins – Glasgow Warriors
The former Hurricane flanker plays with aggression and urgency. Now a mainstay in Dave Rennie’s side, Gibbins importantly has a huge work rate complimenting his explosive carries.
8) Teboho Mohoje – Cheetahs
The Springbok has had a fine opening season in the Pro 14 playing an integral role in securing the Cheetahs place in the playoffs.
Moving between number 8 and openside flanker throughout, Mohoje possesses nice handling skills, carries strongly and is great line out option. Injected genuine international class into the league.
9) John Cooney – Ulster
The Ulster scrumhalf has been a revelation all season. Determined to make an impact after the departure of Ruan Pienaar, Cooney was Ulster’s playmaker, dictating the pace and direction of his side. A contender for league player of the season.
10) Ross Byrne – Leinster
With 17 starts this season, Byrne was the standout 10 in this year’s league. His cross-field kicks hurt countless teams this season and is a skill that distinguishes him from any other 10 in Ireland.
11) Barry Daly – Leinster
Astounding to believe a player of this quality couldn’t force himself into his side’s starting team, such is the depth at Leinster.
The league’s top try scorer this season, Daly’s graceful running combined with his solid nuts and bolts skill-set earns him a place in the leagues team of the year.
12) Rory Scannell – Munster
The inside centre has been unlucky not to earn more international honours this season. Often used as a first up carrier of set piece, Scannell packs a punch with ball in hand and shoulders a lot of Munster’s play making responsibility.
13) Tom Farrell – Connacht
Connacht’s most consistent player, Farrell was one of the few players who didn’t let the departing Kieran Keane down this season.
A strong running game is supported with great offloading skills. With 5 tries to his name this season, Farrell stepped up when Connacht needed him to.
14) Jacob Stockdale – Ulster
Not only did Stockdale amaze on the international stage, he brought his incredible form to the Guinness Pro14 with seven tries from 13 games.
Defensively unsure at times, Stockdale more than made up for it with ball in hand.
15) Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh
The Scottish international made more meters than any other player in the competition. His season ended the way it began, with the 21-year-old scything through opposition defences.
With 50 appearances in league already, Kinghorn is set to become a stalwart of the GuinnessPro14.
Once again it’s been a brilliant year for the Pro14, with positive and creative rugby taking center stage.
The quality within the league is fantastic with on field talent being supported by some of the best coaching minds in the northern hemisphere.
Next season cannot come quickly enough.