Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry pick the crucial players in the six playoffs teams.
James Broadhurst has been the workhorse lock who has held their tight five together. He's carried hard up the middle; 119 times he's had the ball in his hands and he's used it well, making 50 passes and 21 offloads.
The Hurricanes have long needed a grafting lock to bring their superb loose trio and million dollar backline more effectively into play. In years gone by, the Hurricanes were found out later in the season because they were missing the foundation required to stay competitive. Not now.
Broadhurst has inspired those around him, given the pack the presence it needs and his 122 tackles have made a difference.
The phenomenal engine and athleticism have always been apparent, but this season TJ Perenara has added the poise and accuracy that was often missing.
The forwards have given him quicker, cleaner ball and he has focused harder on clearing the ball faster and more often. He's made 888 passes and there has been little indecision on his part. When he passes, he's down, hands on the ball and away. When he runs, it's an equally clean, dynamic process. And that's maybe been the key to his game this year, He's been more decisive and more astute: better at reading when to run, when to pass and when to kick.
His decision-making and accuracy have enabled the Hurricanes to convert their forward dominance to sweeping backs moves.
Cane has been the form No7 in the country. He's played with confidence and authority and been sensationally good over the tackled ball. He's appeared to be quicker around the field or at least reading the game with the foresight to be quicker than his opponents.
He's won 22 turnovers, which is equal with David Pocock and sits as the second best in the competition behind Liam Gill of the Reds.
And that has been vital, because the Chiefs are a team that loves playing off turnover ball and attacking from deep. More than half their 40 tries have come from inside or nearly inside their own half.
Cane has been a momentum changer. He's been able to pull off critical plays at critical times giving the Chiefs belief.
The Tasman wing is an under-appreciated asset. His long kicking game has been one of the Chiefs' best weapons this year and they have used Lowe cleverly, popping up as he often does at first or second receiver to hoof the ball a long way out of defence.
He's also had a high work rate and a desire to make himself the extra man to give the Chiefs space to exploit. He's an all-round footballer rather than an out and out finisher, but his skillset has suited the Chiefs nicely and contributed to them being where they are.
The former Blues wing is either leading or close to the top of each key category in the statistics: defenders beaten, metres gained, offloads and tries scored ... he's impressed in all.
His power and pace have been outstanding and he's scored tries he's had no business scoring. But what has caught the eye of the All Black selectors is his dedication to the less glamorous chores. His chasing game is good. His work under the high ball is good and he's pulled off 14 turnovers which is more than most good opensides.
His newest trick is firing off his wing at first receiver to leave some poor opposition No10 to deal with him. It's worked superbly, getting the Highlanders over the gainline near the set-piece where they can attack again quickly.
Dixon best epitomises the spirit of the Highlanders. He's selfless, relentless and has played at the peak of his ability all season. His contribution has been huge, nowhere more tellingly than in defence.
He's made 142 tackles, which puts him in the top 20. But it has not just been the volume, but the quality of his defence. Several times this year he's managed to get himself under an attacking player who is in the act of scoring a try. These sorts of tackles make a difference and so too has his ability to support the ball carrier and either secure possession or maintain the continuity. He's also stolen six lineouts which, again, helped the Highlanders out of tight spots.
Pocock missed the second half of the Brumbies' recent loss to the Crusaders in Canberra due to concussion, and his absence was significant as his team battled to stay with the visitors. The openside flanker has become an expert at scoring from the back of driving mauls but he is much more than a scorer of soft tries. With 22 turnovers won - second alongside Sam Cane behind Liam Gill - Pocock is a muscular and determined ball winner, the pitbull terrier of the rugby world. Fortunately for the Brumbies he has travelled to Cape Town and should be fit.
Second-five Lealiifano has played the most minutes for the Brumbies (1273) and is one of the best attackers in his team. He is also the goalkicker and is returning to Cape Town following his last-gasp miss against the Stormers in round-robin which cost his team the game. He gets his hands on the ball a lot outside playmaker Matt Toomua. He has 123 carries (second behind No8 Ita Vaea) and has beaten 28 players, third behind wings Henry Speight (34) and Joe Tomane (33).
At 1.7m and 80kg, fullback Kolbe is small. However, he is one of the toughest players in Super Rugby going by his performance against the Highlanders in Dunedin this season, where he bounced around like a pinball. At 1200 minutes, he is easily the busiest Stormer this season and plainly their best attacking weapon with 1063m. First-five Dillyn Leyds is next with 684m.
One of the best goalkickers in the competition, Catrakilis has been successful with 89 per cent of his kicks (he has kicked 57 and missed only 7). He kicks from long range too: he was successful with one from 54.2m. A traditional South Africa first-five then? Not quite. Catrakilis has a running game too, although his defence is a weakness as he has made only 59 per cent of his tackles.
First-five Foley is a bit of an enigma. He kicks the most of any other player in the competition (229, compared with next highest Andre Pollard, with 196), and yet has carried the ball 196 times, which puts him third overall behind Israel Folau (214) and Kurtley Beale (204). Foley has played the equal most minutes in his team (1280, alongside Folau) and is one of the Waratahs' most dangerous attacking weapons. If he has a weakness it could be his goalkicking. Although a 69 per cent strike rate is better than Beauden Barrett's 67 per cent.
A beast on attack, as anyone who watched him almost single-handedly dismantle the Cheetahs recently will attest. Folau's long stride and limbs make him a nightmare to defend against and he has one of the best offloads in the game. He has scored only five tries this season, a low strike rate for him given he scored a hat-trick in Bloemfontein. Folau leads the competition in carries (218), offloads (37), defenders beaten (68) and metres (1606).