Nigel Yalden: NZ Super Rugby team of the week - Round 6

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 1:35PM
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images


Wins for all three North Island franchises is countered by losses for the Southern teams and the provides the backdrop against which Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden selects his New Zealand Team of the Week for Round 6 of Super Rugby:

1 The Highlanders have found themselves a wee gem in Ayden Johnstone (Highlanders). He does everything required of a modern prop forward & does it to an ever-increasing standard as was evident at Eden Park on Friday night

2 Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes) played the entire game and got through a massive amount of work during that time; the 14 carries into the teeth of that bruising Stormer defensive line testament to a fearless display

3 Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs) delivered a typically industrious effort in all areas before handing over Nepo Laulala (Chiefs) who played the last thirty minutes in the same vein

4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) – the world’s preeminent openside lock – was back to his marauding, combative, skill-laden best at Pretoria, much to the detriment his hosts

5 Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues) came on as a replacement late in the first half but was hugely involved during his 48 minutes on the park as well as making a couple of key plays when his side needed it

6 Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) was big (yet again) for his side. He didn’t carry as much as he has in previous games, but his charges still took some stopping while he was mighty on defence with 18 tackles from as many attempts. As it stands right now, Frizell starts the first All Blacks test of the year in the number six jersey

7 If there was a pound-for-pound title in rugby as there is in boxing, I reckon Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) would be one of the leading contenders for it. He fights for every centimetre of turf on a rugby field with every fibre of his body; the unbridled relentlessness he displayed on the charge that set up Beauden Barrett’s game-winning try will sit in the memory for a fair while – Forward of the Week

8 This is a tough choice as while the NZ number eights played well, none of them really delivered a complete game. If pushed I’d lean towards Luke Whitelock (Highlanders) but would do so with very little conviction

9 Brad Weber (Chiefs) is quietly and unassumingly (two words I never thought I used to describe that young man) piecing together his best Super Rugby season since 2015 when he earned his only All Black appearance. He’s was excellent at Loftus on Sunday morning, helping direct play and complimenting the work of those around him, be they wearing single digits or double on their backs

10 In addition to guiding the team well, Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) also captained a side without Coles, Perenara and Laumape with maturity and calm. It was great to see him running at the defence with ball in hand which makes him even more of a threat

11 Rieko Ioane (Blues) is in sparking form and continued that with an excellent all round display against the Highlanders. That first try was a majestic sight to behold (heaps more of that in September & October please) and he’s formed an increasingly dangerous combination with fullback Melani Nanai – Back of the Week

12 Another stand out performance in his second start of the season by Alex Nankivell (Chiefs) Whether he has ball in hand or not, his accuracy and intent does not waver; would like to see him operating in tandem with Anton Lienert-Brown in the near future

13 TJ Faiane (Blues) just edges out Tumua Manu (Chiefs) as both produce the best performances of their Super Rugby careers. The pair appears to be learning how to control their own game for the betterment of those around them.

14 Wes Goosen (Hurricanes) delivered two quality finishes and provided some elusive, incisive runs as he finally had a game where the ball flowed his way with a bit more regularity

15 Now I could make arguments for Damian McKenzie (Chiefs), Ben Smith (Highlanders) and Melani Nanai (Blues) but it’s late, I’ve run out of coffee and eaten the last of the Shrewsbury’s so just pick one yourself … don’t panic, whichever one you choose is right

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