Super Rugby: New Zealand Team of the Week

Nigel Yalden,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 2:06PM
Anton Lienert-Brown was once again a standout on the weekend. (Photo / Getty)
Anton Lienert-Brown was once again a standout on the weekend. (Photo / Getty)

All five New Zealand franchises were in action at the weekend with the Crusaders, Chiefs and Highlanders involved in draws, the Hurricanes winning a classic game-of-two-halves while the Blues succumbed to the Brumbies.  Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden has reviewed the footage, drunk the coffee and consumed the biscuits as he produced his New Zealand Team of the Week for Round 12 of Super Rugby:

1 Atu Moli (Chiefs) was solid and accurate in all departments

2 Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes) tidied up his element of the lineout, throwing with significantly improved accuracy, which complimented the high volume of work he’s getting through without the ball and the attacking prowess we already knew he had

3 Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs) played 30 minutes off the bench on Saturday night and whilst he was good, his selection is a testament to the disappointing level of performance from the starting tightheads who were poor across the board

4 Jackson Hemopo (Highlanders) is back to his industrious best, especially busy with ball in hand against the Chiefs

5 Scott Barrett (Crusaders) was so active in all areas against the Sharks.  While still the number three lock in the country behind the All Blacks incumbents of Whitelock and Retllick, Barrett continues to come more and more into the blindside reckoning.  Josh Goodhue (Blues) also deserves a mention for his endeavours against the Brumbies

6 Luke Jacobson’s (Chiefs) performances since returning from a long layoff due to concussion have been remarkable. The all-round accuracy and force of his play on Saturday night was huge in the Chiefs comeback draw in Dunedin - Forward of the Week

7 While he didn’t give us the highlight reel moments of recent outings, Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) was again huge for the Canes, especially defensively with 19 tackles (100% success rate) and three turnovers

8 Tyler Ardron (Chiefs) just works and works and then works some more for his team, as does Reed Princep (Hurricanes) who Ardron edges out for selection this week

9 Aaron Smith’s (Highlanders) overall speed, accuracy and organisation gets him the nod over a solid group of halfback performances from Byrn Hall (Crusaders) Brad Weber (Chiefs) and Richard Judd (Hurricanes).  Smith’s long passing on Saturday night was particularly delightful to watch but his absence after being subbed was clear to see in the final 15 minutes of the game

10 I really like the way Josh Ioane (Highlanders) is developing at this level.  It’s reminiscent of the way Richie Mo’unga grew into his role with the Crusaders.  If Ioane can produce performances like Saturday night on a consistent basis, the Highlanders will benefit now and in the future

11 Whilst he no doubt wants his final pass/decision back, Tevita Li (Highlanders) was very good in the eighty minutes prior

12 Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) delivered yet another outstanding effort against quality midfielder opposition.  The quality of everything he’s doing, be it with the ball or without, has been huge for his franchise, just as it was in Dunedin on Saturday night – Back of the Week

13 Rob Thompson (Highlanders) read the game of rugby exceedingly well.  Watching his movement off the ball on Saturday night, he works really hard to get himself in the right position on attack, delivering more positive touches than negative and he brings that same industrious ethic to his defence too

14 Wes Goosen (Hurricanes) goes out and gets the job done whenever presented the chance and when he gets outside his man, he does exactly the same.

15 Hopefully we see Ben Smith (Highlanders) playing for his franchise one last time.  If that doesn’t come to pass, his performance encompassed everything we like about Ben Smith and the way he plays the game

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