After wins to the Chiefs and Crusaders over fellow New Zealand franchises and a hard fought victory to the Highlanders, Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden sat down, coffee and biscuits at the ready, to select his Team of the Week for the final round of Super Rugby’s regular season:
1 Sam Prattley (Chiefs) produced a very working like effort – Crockett-esque one might say - in a rare Super Rugby start. He scrummed solidly, defended well and was busy around the field.
2 As pointed out last week, when he was selected for this corresponding team, Andrew Makalio (Crusaders) just delivers quality performances every time he’s afforded the game time, be it starting or off the bench.
3 Even between Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Hurricanes) and Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs) on a weekend when all the NZ tightheads didn’t reach great heights despite their best endeavours.
4 You know, Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) goes alright at this rugby lark; not bad for a bloke who’s been on the side lines for the last six weeks. While, not as active (by his standards) with ball in hand, he dominated the lineout and led the side very well in the absence of several usual leaders.
5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) was work-rate and accuracy personified; continues to get better and better and showing no signs of slowing that progress down. His assuredness as a captain also grows on a weekly basis – Forward of the Week
6 A fizzed up Jordan Taufua (Crusaders) is one of the best sights in rugby and he was frothing along nicely against the Blues Saturday night; such a shame he was injured during the June internationals; Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs) wasn’t far behind and worth of acknowledgement
7 Mitch Karpik (Chiefs) doesn’t get too many starts but this one was by far his best. Good with ball in hand, part of tandem irritants at the breakdown with Lachlan Boshier and very busy defensively; couple of nice turnovers too which always make an openside smile
8 Liam Squire (Highlanders) seems pretty intent on making up for lost time due to injury. For the second straight week, he was tearing into at a rate of knots especially defensively but some of his ball carries were positively ferocious
9 Brad Weber (Chiefs) picked a really good time to produce his best performance of the season. While the intercept try and the sideline scamper late in the game will be remembered, he got to the breakdown and cleared quickly, something that will be needed again this Friday night in the quarter final – Back of the Week
10 As he’s been doing since his return from injury, Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) pulled the strings delightfully as the Crusader outclassed the Blues.
11 George Bridge (Crusaders) claims the Russell Westbrook Stat Line of the Week Award thanks to 123 metres gained from 9 carries, 5 clean line breaks, 4 defenders beaten, 3 tries, a try assist, an offload, 8 tackles made (100% tackle accuracy) and a turn over won … good night at the office that
12 Tei Walden (Highlanders) was tremendous under the roof as he produce a quality all round performance. He was staunch on defence – 18 tackles and a turnover illustrate that – while he delivered some timely & impactful moments on attack in the comeback victory
13 Another excellent outing from Jack Goodhue (Crusaders) in which he showed why he’s one of, if not the best, line runner in Super Rugby; much better defensively this week including securing a nice turn over
14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders) had himself a game against the Rebels. It took him a while to get into the game but when he did, my goodness he had an impact. Not only did he reinforce that he’s got some serious speed, but his work defensively was outstanding including two turnovers and a game winning/ribcage altering tackle to finish the contest. Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders) was a menace in Christchurch in the match that followed
15 Solomon Alaimalo (Chiefs) has future All Black written all over him as he continues to flourish since being shifted to fullback; has a skill set and versatility that must be very, very appealing to Messers Hansen, Foster and Fox, as evident by his play in Hamilton on Friday night.
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