Super Rugby team of the week, round eight

By Nigel Yalden

Three New Zealand teams play and three New Zealand teams win.

The Hurricanes were impressive; the Crusaders impressive in the first half before battling in the second, while the Blues battled a combative Sharks side to an ugly win, but a win nonetheless.

No Chiefs and Highlanders made things a little easier for Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden (though not a whole lot) as he picked his NZ Form Team of the Week:

1. Reg Goodes (Hurricanes) - scrummed as well as anyone on the shifting sands that is AAMI Park in Melbourne as well as getting get through a healthy amount of worked around the field in a typically busy effort.

2. Dane Coles (Hurricanes) - another excellent all round performance by the second best hooker in world rugby ... sorry New Zealand, Agustin Creevy is better.

3. Charlie Faumuina (Blues) - Sir Graham Henry used to remind anyone who listened about what an outstanding athlete John Afoa was; I do wonder what Ted would made of the magnificent skillset of Faumuina.

So good is he around the field, in the tight exchanges and with ball in hand that it's easy to overlook that he is scrummaging and lifting in the lineout to the high standards you'd expect from an All Black.

4. Scott Barrett (Crusaders) - feel very comfortable making this proclamation - Barrett is now only behind team-mate Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick in the locking ranks of New Zealand rugby. He just gets through work and as you'd expect from a Taranaki born forward named Barrett, he does it with great intent, physicality and controlled aggression.

5. Michael Fatialofa (Hurricanes) - continues to go from strength-to-strength since being inserted into the starting line-up. Aerially impressive and robust on the ground versus the Rebels and like Scott Barrett, is only in his early 20's (Barrett 22, Fatialofa 23) so another one for the future.

6. Jordan Taufua (Crusaders) - though I wasn't that enamoured with any of the three NZ blindsides on display who I thought were all outplayed by their opposites.

7. Matt Todd (Crusaders) - huge defensively with 17 tackles & 3 turnovers but his role in getting to the breakdown so quickly was also key for other Crusaders snaffling turnovers too. He's not an overt attacking threat like Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), who was excellent against the Rebels, but Matt Todd was never far from the ball on Friday night playing an excellent supporting role that allowed others to shine.

8. Steven Luatua (Blues) - Saturday night was Steven Luatua showing everyone that he still can be that player we were so impressed with in 2012 & 2013. He worked in close; he ranged out wide, he was robust in the defence, he soared in the lineout (2 steals including a vital one late in the game), in short he was every inched the talent rugby fans know him to be, but haven't seen for a wee bit - my Forward of the Week PS Your All Black captain elect went pretty darn good in Christchurch too.

9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) - worked beautifully with his first five to help orchestrated a comfortable bonus point win. Beauden Barrett was playing flatter and Perenara's accurate passing meant that the Canes were able to maximise that; kicking was good and as always very good defensively, both in and around the breakdown and in general play.

10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) - how good was it seeing Beauden Barrett playing flatter on attack where, as the Rebels found out to their detriment, he is so much more effective. We saw the entire gambit of his attacking skills on Friday night, with his ludicrous acceleration still taking the cake, as he controlled the game beautifully - my Back of the Week

11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes) - while play did flow his way, that didn't stop him going in search of more touches, ending Friday night's game with 20 carries (best of the round) which he turned into the 3rd best metres-made (131 metres). However you don't the needs the stats to tell you what your eyes have already told you; it's pretty clear to all that Savea is galloping back into the sort of form that makes him one of the most impactful wings in world rugby.

12. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) - not as impressive as in previous weeks, but still provided more in combination with his midfield partner than the respective pairing for the Hurricanes and Blues.

13. Kieron Fonotia (Crusaders) - see Ryan Crotty

14. Reiko Ioane (Blues) - all the talk prior to the start of the season was about his big brother Akira, but it's the 19 year old is making a bigger impact for the Blues and did it again against the Sharks. He provided the defining moment of the match; a delightful individual try showcase his evasiveness, acceleration and speed, part of a very prominent display throughout the entirety of the game. As they say in basketball, he put up a heck of stat line: 16 carries, 118 metres made, 7 defenders beaten & 4 clean line breaks.

15. Israel Dagg (Crusaders) - the eyes were wide, the mouth was open, the feet were nimble, the acceleration was sharp, the fend was rigid, the positional play was brilliant, the defence was solid and the smile was as wide as them there Canterbury plains - good to have back, young man.

** Statistics via NZ Heralds Rugby Stats Centre

NIGEL YALDEN IS THE RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB

- NZ Herald

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