Pienaar and Tuohy make RaboDirect Dream Team
Edinburgh Rugby’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ Tim Visser has winged his way into the RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team for the third year in a row.
Visser, who qualifies to play for Scotland this summer, is once again the leading try scorer in the RaboDirect PRO12, claiming 36 tries in 56 appearances for Edinburgh up to Round 22 of the 2011/12 campaign this weekend.
That total has worked him into third place in the PRO12 all-time try scoring list level with Nikki Walker and just behind Shane Horgan (39) and Tommy Bowe (46).
A panel of 14 journalists from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales were canvassed to select the team after 19 rounds of the tournament.
In addition to Visser, there are a further five players in the 2011/12 Dream Team who have retained their place from the last year, with four of the returning players in the back line.
Leinster’s utility back Isa Nacewa once again won the full back shirt, beating off competition from Glasgow’s Stuart Hogg, while Ruan Pienaar was the overwhelming choice at scrum half with 10 of the 14 votes.
Cardiff Blues centre Casey Laulala was the other player to make it two in a row as he won the race to join the Ospreys’ Ashley Beck at centre. His Blues team mate, Alex Cuthbert, took the left wing spot on try count over Munster’s Simon Zebo.
It was also tight at outside half, where Glasgow Warriors’ Duncan Weir just pipped Leinster’s Ian Madigan for the No 10 jersey due to his superior scoring record.
Only one forward survived from the 2010/11 Dream Team, Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss.
There was another close call at loose head prop, between Glasgow’s Jon Welsh and Leinster’s Heinke van der Merwe. In the end, the accolade went to Welsh on the basis he had scored three tries to Van der Merwe’s one.
Munster’s BJ Botha beat off the challenge of Ospreys’ Adam Jones and Ulster’s John Afoa to complete the front row as the tight head choice.
For the second row positions, there were 15 different players put forward, with Ulster’s Dan Tuohy and Glasgow’s Tom Ryder the clear favourites.
Tuohy topped the poll with six votes, while Ryder had four, and their elevation into the Dream Team was a reflection on their reliability and durability at the heart of their respective packs over the season.
The back row comprises three players who failed to make their nation’s World Cup squads, yet all featured in the RBS 6 Nations. Edinburgh’s Dave Denton took the blindside flanker position while Scarlets’ Ben Morgan claimed the No 8 spot.
The No 7 jersey went to Ospreys openside flanker Justin Tipuric.
RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team 2011/12:
15-9: Isa Nacewa (Leinster), Tim Visser (Edinburgh), Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues); Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster);
1-8: Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), BJ Botha (Munster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Dave Denton (Edinburgh), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ben Morgan (Scarlets)