By Nigel Yalden.
It was a good week for the North Island based New Zealand franchises; not so great for those from the southern side of Cook Strait.
So with round 2 of Super Rugby in the book, here’s Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden’s NZ Team of the Week.
- That was more like the Karl Tu’inukuafe (Blues) that we know and love; giving tightheads kittens at scrum time, moving bodies at the breakdown and getting around the park with a bit more spring in his step.
- Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs) was solid again though the standard of play from all the NZ hookers this weekend was hardly earth shattering.
- Two really nice efforts from Siate Tokolahi (Highlanders) and Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes). Both were very strong at scrum time as well as being busy around the field; I lean towards to Lomax but wouldn’t take much to sway me back to Tokolahi.
- Scott Barrett (Crusaders) delivered a strong all-round performance, however his ball running was the most impressive aspect, constantly getting his team over the advantage line by running at the gap between defenders then quickly presenting the ball for his halfback.
- An industrious outing from the ever improving Isaia Walker-Leaware (Hurricanes) in Buenos Aires. The leading tackler for his team, he was also prominent moving bodies and carried strongly against a very robust and combative Jaguares pack.
- Timing is everything and for the second week in a row Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs) produced the timely plays for his team in a tight, hard fought contest. Five turnovers, plenty of ball carrying and generally into everything earns him FORWARD OF THE WEEK honours … again!
- My goodness Tom Christie (Crusaders) has some motor on him. He did his best work defensively (20 tackles, 3 turnovers) however he supported his ball carriers well and when needed to cart the ball up, did so willingly.
- Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (Highlanders) was one of the few bright spots for the Southern Franchise on Friday night. He was effective with ball in hand (9 carries for 102 metres gained), solid defensively and easily their best lineout option.
- TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) played well, led well and assisted the referee well; his will to win has reached McCaw levels and that showed in the focused, accurate yet very balanced performance he delivered in Buenos Aires – BACK OF THE WEEK
- Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) was nowhere near as dominant a figure as he was in week one but his experience in picking and choosing his spots was clear to see, as was his unappreciated ability to defend his position. He combined well with Damian McKenzie when the fullback step into first receiver a lot more during the second half.
- It’s hard to go past a wing who gets a hat-trick. The game didn’t flow Mark Talea’s (Blues) way in the first forty but he still did his share of work before flourishing in the second half, grabbing a try early then two more in the final three minutes.
- Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) got the better of a world class second five battle in the Tron Saturday night while TJ Faiane (Blues) was excellent in Newcastle in the match that followed.
- Joe Marchant (Blues) gave us a glimpse of the high quality that he possess on a weekend when the other centres struggled to make any significant contribution to their respective contests.
- Sean Wainui (Chiefs) just does things the right way. You wouldn’t call him spectacular by any means, but he does his job to the best of his ability each and every week. He just edges out the equally reliable Wes Goosen (Hurricanes)
- That was as solid a game of rugby as I’ve seen from Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes). Excellent under the high ball, good positional play, injected himself into the attack at the right time, perfect off the kick tee and a big effort play to thwart a try.
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