Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Aotearoa: Top 5 Players

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Top 5 Players

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Top 5 Players

With the North vs South New Zealand derby coming up fast, we select five of the players we believe shone brightest in Super Rugby Aotearoa this season and who should be kept an eye on.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Will Jordan (Crusaders)

Let’s get the most obvious pick out of the way. The 22-year-old fullback-cum right-winger was stupidly good for the Crusaders over the past few months with many now viewing him as the ideal replacement for the great Ben Smith in the All Black set up. Jordan’s stats are simply ridiculous, as he topped the tournament charts for the most tries (six), clean breaks (15), defenders beaten (39) and meters carried (724). Possessing pace, dexterity, composure and uncanny match awareness, we may be watching the start of something truly special here.

Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

The 31-year-old All Black, who played in his 150th Highlanders match on the weekend, seemingly has a new lease on life after producing some vintage performances in the No 9 jersey. Despite playing for a side that struggled at times this season, Smith led from the front and finished the campaign with the most passes (542) and joint eighth-most clean breaks (10), with arguably his most eye-catching of the lot coming in the first-half of the Landers’ eventual loss at the hands of the Crusaders in Round Four. There’s still plenty left in that old tank yet.

Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)

Mo’unga is all class. The Crusaders' pivot underlined his status as the country’s pre-eminent No 10 this tournament with scarily good decision-making, game management and execution. His best performance arguably came against the Blues in Round Five, especially in that second-half, but his eerie consistency means he never really has too many bad days at the office. He topped the charts for points scored (99), ranked second for defenders beaten (35) and joint sixth for both clean breaks (11) and carries (76).

Hoskins Sotutu (Blues)

Despite missing the backend of the campaign through injury, former New Zealand U20 international Sotutu did enough in the opening rounds to earn his place here. In a watershed season for the Blues, Sotutu formed part of one of the competition’s most feared loose trios alongside Akira Ioane and Dalton Papalii. The versatile No 8 can operate as a dangerous ball carrier, defender and lineout option, with many suggesting he could be the man to fill the boots of Kieran Read under Ian Foster.

Ofa Tuungafasi (Blues)

The Tongan-born tighthead prop, recently described by Sir John Kirwan as the most improved player in New Zealand rugby, was colossal for the Blues during the Aotearoa season. His efforts at scrum time went a long way to ensuring his side ended the campaign with a 98% success rate in that department, while his work rate around the park and defence remains top drawer. Nepo Laulala’s struggles at the Chiefs this season, coupled with Tuungafasi’s sublime form could see the latter become the All Blacks premier No 3 in November; though the North v South derby will provide an even greater indication of where exactly they stand.

Statistics obtained from: https://super.rugby/superrugby/competition-stats/.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.

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