Unsurprisingly the Highlanders dominated Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden's NZ Team of the Week.
There's a sprinkling of Crusaders with a Hurricane and a Chief rounding out the side.
For those Blues fans hoping to see a couple of your chaps included following their win in Port Elizabeth, please read the following portion of a statement published on Tuesday 22 March 2016 with NZ Form Team of the Week for Round four of Super Rugby.
"The Kings players are playing to the best of their abilities and furthermore playing their hearts out, but that is not a Super Rugby level team. I'm not going to get into the financial, social and political aspects that have put this group of players and coaches in the overtly challenging position they find themselves in, so in order to get picked in the team of the week if you are playing the Kings, you are going to have to do something beyond brilliant in all aspects to get selected - thanks"
1. While his try was nice, Daniel Leinert-Brown (Highlanders) shone because of his core roles. He scrummed with strength and technical proficiency, lifted in the lineout in an identical way and was at the fore-front of clean outs and defending at the breakdowns.
2. Dane Coles (Hurricanes) continues to show his all-round class. While the lineout throwing wasn't as good as it has been (neither were the other contenders it must be said) Coles work around the field and at scrum time in Durban earn him the nod this week.
3. Josh Hohneck (Highlanders) set the tone with a couple of powerful set piece efforts early in the game and the rest flowed from there. The work in and around the breakdown by Hohneck and Leinert-Brown was significant in the Highlanders win.
4. Scott Barrett (Crusaders) has got himself a motor and half beating in his chest. He unrelentingly ploughs his way through a game from first whistle to last and Friday night's effort against the Reds was another case of Barrett outshining his more illustrious locking team-mates, both of whom are actually playing pretty darn well themselves at present.
5. Tom Franklin (Highlanders) just keeps getting better and better as the season progresses. He was the best of four very good locks on display in Hamilton on Saturday night which is saying something when Brodie Retallick is one of the afore mentioned quartet. While others are garnering "All Black chat", Tom Franklin's is as deserving of that sort of banter.
6. While Elliot Dixon (Highlanders) will be most remember for his assisted gymnastics against the Chiefs, he was his typically industrious self, showing up all over the park throughout the entire eighty minutes, in particular with some stinging hits on defence and two timely turnovers.
7. Dan Pryor (Highlanders) highlighted two things in Hamilton; 1) the depth of talent at openside flanker that New Zealand rugby has & 2) his own brilliant talent and endurance on a rugby field. He led the defence around the fringes, covered ground to get to breakdowns efficiently while he support play was outstanding - my Forward of the Week. Special mention for Matt Todd (Crusaders) who had another very strong game against the Reds with 18 tackles, 3 turnovers and like Pryor was just everywhere.
8. Luke Whitelock (Highlanders) played an intelligent game which was both complimentary to his fellow loose forwards and individually effective. While the efforts of Dixon and Pryor were more noticeable, a second look at the game shows Whitelock doing as much work, rounding out an excellent game as a loose forward collective.
9. Aaron Smith (Highlanders) had more kicks than Lima Sopoaga and Ben Smith combined (13 vs 12) and they were, for the most part, well read and well executed. The speed and quality of the pass goes without saying while his communication/constant yapping to help marshal the defence was on point too.
10. While Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders) is executing the coaching staff's game plan very well, he still has the confidence to read the defence and back his instincts to react to those reads. And it's the occasional runs, one late in the first half against the Chiefs in particular, that helps keep the oppositions guessing, which is very much to his side's advantage. In partnership with the Smiths, Sopoaga helped control that game in a sensible, measured way.
11. Jone Macilai-Tori (Crusaders) is giving Todd Blackadder one of those selection headaches they all love to have. It's going to be hard to leave this guy out even when his countryman returns from suspension because, as stated in previous columns, he delivers every time he plays. Macilai-Tori made everything count against the Reds and how's this for a stat-line - 121 metres made, 12 carries, 6 line breaks, 5 defenders beaten and 3 offloads.
12. Even the yellow card incident can't stop me from including Charlie Ngatai (Chiefs). He was only Chiefs player to be able to truly trouble the Highlanders seemingly impregnable defensive line and the stats would seem to support what the eyes view on Saturday night - 13 carries, 80 metres made, 8 defender beaten and 4 line breaks. Defensively, the area where Steve Hansen says Ngatai still has things to improve on, he was dependable and accurate.
13. Kieron Fonotia (Crusaders) just rolls up the proverbial sleeves, goes out and does his job. A second look at the Reds game highlighted that he might not be the fanciest player in Super Rugby, but what he does, he does very well and often and by doing so contributes mightily to the overall team performance.
14. Waisake Naholo (Highlanders) certainly didn't look like a player who'd missed the last 10 weeks with injury, playing the position almost flawlessly. He was effective with ball in hand (2 tries, 79 metres made, 3 line breaks) while on defence he tackled strongly and secured three turnovers, the same amount as Matt Todd, Ardie Savea & Michael Hooper. The standout feature was his positional play, invariably in the right place, while the overall performance would have put a grim on the face of Steve Hansen - my Back of the Week
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) did what Ben Smith does; that being everything to an exceeding high level. Justin Marshall wrote yesterday that he believes "Ben Smith is close to being the best player on the planet" and I fully agree with that assessment.
** Statistics via NZ Heralds Rugby Stats Centre
NIGEL YALDEN IS THE RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB