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Nigel Yalden: NZ Super Rugby Team of the Week - Round 7

Author
Nigel Yalden,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 2 April 2019, 2:13p.m.
Rieko Ioane is Nigel's Back of the Week. (Photo / Getty)
Rieko Ioane is Nigel's Back of the Week. (Photo / Getty)

Follow a round where the Crusaders showed that last week in Sydney was just a glitch in the Matrix, the Blues moved into a wildcard spot and the Chiefs snared a second straight road win, Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden sat down to select his New Zealand Team of the Week for Round 7 of Super Rugby:

1 In his fourth consecutive 70+ minute effort (aren’t starting props only meant to last an hour at best) Aidan Ross (Chiefs) powered through his work with good carries, excellent cleanout & effective tackling.  He was part of an intriguing scrum battle in which I feel he copped couple of wrong calls

2 Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes) carried often and well in the tight areas, moved bodies at the breakdown better than most of his team-mates, didn’t miss tackle and was part of a scrum that operated at 100%.  He just get the nod in a tight call from the always industrious James Parsons (Blues)

3 Like his mate on the loosehead side, Nepo Laulaua (Chiefs) put himself around the park in Buenos Aires in addition to being his typically rock solid self at scrum time

4 Scott Barrett’s (Crusaders) early season form has been stupendous and it’s no surprise that some fans are calling for him to start in the number six jersey when the All Blacks roar into life in July.  The physicality and accuracy the Steve Hansen asked of him 18 months ago is there week in week out now & his effort against the hurricanes was yet another unrelenting display

5 Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues) is big but on against the Stormers he was big … and imposing and damaging and I’m sure most of the Stormers forwards left the field with an indentation around their torso where Tuipulotu put his right shoulder. He carried the ball strongly in an excellent all round effort, as was Gerald Cowley-Tuioti (Blues) in tandem with his captain

6 Not even going to try and separate Tom Robinson (Blues) and Luke Jacobson (Chiefs) because they were both massive for their respective teams, playing the same position with different roles.  Robinson put on a tackling clinic (23 in the total) and was so efficient cleaning out at the breakdown.  Jacobson is required to carry more and did so for a game high 14 times gaining versus the Jaguares as well as making 17 tackles & effecting two turnovers – Forwards of the Week

7 The questionable yellow card aside, Matt Todd (Crusaders) was his accurate, industrious, irritating (a compliment not an insult) best in Wellington; in fact I suspect the anger caused by having to sit might have fired the normally calm and controlling Todd up a smidge  

8 Tyler Ardron (Chiefs) might not be the flashiest number eight in Super Rugby – it’s a toss-up between he and Whetukamokamo Douglas for that honour – but he is so proficient in that position.  On Sunday morning, he just turned up where you needed someone to be at the moment someone was required to be there

9 A good displayed from all the NZ halfbacks this round but Jonathon Ruru (Blues) get the nod in what was his best outing this season.  He seems to be benefiting from knowing he’s starting each week and that confidence is showing through in his play 

10 Yes he got a great ride behind that pack, but Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) used that platform to its absolute fullest as he controlled and directed the defending champions with aplomb; goal kicked nicely which was timely considering his ropey start to the campaign off the tee

11 Rieko Ioane’s (Blues) work-rate on both side of the ball was tiring just watching it.  We marvel at his attacking prowess, but some of his work defensively was as impressive, if not more so, which has led him to be named as Back of the Week as well as earning the equally prestigious Russell Westbrook Stat Line of the Week honours thanks to 12 carries for 135 metres gained, 11 tackles (no misses), 8 clean breaks, 6 defenders beaten, 1 turnover, 1 try assist and 1 try

12 Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) in tandem with his mulleted midfield mate, controlled one of the key areas of any New Zealand derby with swiftness, accuracy and intelligence … and it’s not like their midfield opposites actually played that badly either.

13 Jack Goodhue (Crusaders) was huge defensively, more so than 16 tackles would indicate, but also had some telling moments with ball in hand.  Also good to see TJ Faiane (Blues) and Tamua Manu (Chiefs) produce quality outings for the second week in succession

14 Tanielu  Tele’a (Blues) blotted his copy book with the red card however the previous 70 minutes were by far the best of his short Super Rugby career to date.  It’s disappointing (be totally justified) that he’ll miss the next four weeks as he, like other players who are getting regular opportunities to start, are showing signs of coming to terms with the week in week out grind at this level

15 The best way to describe David Havili’s (Crusaders) performance against the Hurricanes is to say that it was Ben Smith-esque.  Havili was incisive, instinctive and accurate; never out of position and he reminded us that a player with his backline versatility and natural talent is a very handy player to have as part of your squad at any level of rugby

Selection criteria: Must play for a NZ franchise but does not have to be eligible for All Blacks

NIGEL YALDEN IS RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB

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