2016-17 Guinness PRO12 Dream Team

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor
05 May 2017

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A year ago Connacht led the way in terms of selections for the Guinness PRO12 Dream Team but in 2016/17 it’s provincial counterparts Munster who dominate the selection.

Rassie Erasmus’ side have six players in all, with no other team providing more than two players to the Dream Team that features representatives from seven different sides.

Indicative of their success both in Europe and domestically this season – Munster could yet finish top of the pile in the league and made a Champions Cup semi-final – the Thomond Park side provide the spine of the team.

Prop duo Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan both make the cut, as does second row Billy Holland, who has enjoyed a landmark season having made his international debut for Ireland in October at the age of 31.

Add in a trio of backs, and it’s clear why Munster have been so strong this year.

At fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal is rewarded for his breakthrough season, having finally shaken off the injuries that had hampered his first season with the team, and in contention to finish as the league’s top scorer as well as leading the assist charts.

In midfield Jaco Taute only arrived on a short-term contract but has made such an impression that he lines up alongside Rory Scannell in midfield, another player who has made a big step up this campaign.

The one area where Munster do not have a player is in the back row, which features a pair of Leinstermen who will be hoping to see their province to top spot in the league this weekend.

Dan Leavy and Jack Conan might have come into the season as lesser names than some of their British & Irish Lions and Ireland colleagues, but have been crucial to the results of Leo Cullen’s side.

Conan’s carrying has been a key feature of Leinster’s success, while Leavy slots in at blindside, even if he has been just as influential on the openside.

Given the multitude of No 7s in Wales, it’s no surprise that spot is taken by a Welshman, with Scarlets openside and Olympic silver-medallist James Davies getting the nod.

He is joined by teammate and hooker Ken Owens for the Scarlets, who currently sit third in the table and are guaranteed a semi-final place.

Ulster’s play-off hopes might be hanging by a thread but they still have two players in the team – and they are two of the more high-profile overseas stars in the league.

All Black Charles Piutau gets in on the wing by dint of his 70 defenders beaten, also topping the clean breaks and offloads tallies.

He is joined by Ruan Pienaar at scrum-half, the Springbok who has made more passes than any other player.

Similarly dominant from a stats perspective is Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran, who has racked up 1,942 metres with ball in hand, more than 400 metres ahead of anyone else.

Second row Ben Toolis of Edinburgh has also been the dominant lineout forward in the league, with a remarkable 137 takes, 65 more than anyone else in the Guinness PRO12.

And rounding out the team is Glasgow Warriors’ winger Tommy Seymour, whose eight tries have helped him make the Lions squad to New Zealand.

Interestingly there are no returning players from the 2015/16 team, although four players in the team, Seymour, Pienaar, Owens and Kilcoyne have all featured in previous Dream Teams.

Dream Team:

15 Tiernan O’Halloran – Connacht Rugby
14 Tommy Seymour – Glasgow Warriors
13 Jaco Taute – Munster Rugby
12 Rory Scannell – Munster Rugby
11 Charles Piutau – Ulster Rugby
10 Tyler Bleyendaal – Munster Rugby
9 Ruan Pienaar – Ulster Rugby
8 Jack Conan – Leinster Rugby
7 James Davies – Scarlets
6 Dan Leavy – Leinster Rugby
5 Billy Holland – Munster Rugby
4 Ben Toolis – Edinburgh Rugby
3 John Ryan – Munster Rugby
2 Ken Owens – Scarlets
1 Dave Kilcoyne – Munster Rugby

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie

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