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Super Rugby Semifinals: Four players to watch

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allblacks.com     26 Jul 2017     Getty Images

James Lowe (Chiefs)
Playing in his swansong season for the Chiefs, 25-year-old wing James Lowe has never been in better form. With 11 tries this season, Lowe sits behind Hurricanes pair Vince Aso and Ngani Laumape as the leading try scorer in 2017. While his finishing ability has never been in question, Lowe is also one of the most dangerous game-breakers in Super Rugby. His 37 line-breaks this year rate him at the top while teammate Damian McKenzie is the only player to run more metres. Lowe has been a fine servant for the Chiefs and will be eager to ensure that this weekend’s semifinal is not his last appearance in a Chiefs jersey. Expect Lowe to unleash his full range of skills as the Chiefs search for a way to break through the Crusaders rock solid defence. 

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Ruan Combrinck (Lions)
More noted for his powerful running out wide, Ruan Combrinck showed his danger with the boot last week. With time almost up on the clock, the ice-cool speedster slotted a monster 58 metre penalty to lift the Lions to a quarterfinal victory over the Sharks. At 100kgs and with plenty of gas, Combrinck will pose a big danger for the Hurricanes with ball in hand. But perhaps even more crucially, Combrinck has the ability to punish any ill-discipline with a boot that can land goals from over 50 metres out.
Dane Coles (Hurricanes)
After four months on the sidelines through injury, Dane Coles showed his class on return to the Hurricanes last week. Coming on from the bench, Coles set piece play was solid and his playmaking was as dynamic as ever. In setting up a try for TJ Perenara, Coles showed that he had lost none of his speed, deception and fancy footwork. While his presence adds another attacking weapon to the Hurricanes, it could be his leadership and experience that will be most crucial for the Hurricanes in the Ellis Park cauldron.
Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
Sam Whitelock is just two games away from leading the Crusaders to their first Super Rugby title since 2008. The quietly spoken leader has galvanised his side into an overwhelming force in 2017 and will be at the forefront of their effort against the Chiefs this weekend. In atrocious conditions against the Highlanders last week, Whitelock lead from the front with a high work rate, heroic defence and precise work in the lineout. His battle with All Blacks locking partner Brodie Retallick will be one to savour.