Round 4: Super Rugby Aotearoa/AU Team of the Week

Codie Taylor, Crusaders

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With the Australian Super Rugby teams entering the fold this week, the Super Rugby Team of the Week selection just got a whole lot tougher. There were plenty of great performances over the weekend, and a few names on the sheet that continue to show up week in and week out. 

Here is your Super Rugby Aotearoa/AU team of the week:

#1. Matt Gibbon | Rebels

Gibbon scrummed extremely well against a formidable Brumbies pack, winning three penalties at scrum time and conceding none. He also got around the park well, making six meters on two runs and securing eight out of his nine tackle attempts. 

#2. Codie Taylor | Crusaders

Taylor continues to impress with his work rate, set-piece efficiency, and superior skills around the pitch. Taylor's skill work and ability with ball-in-hand for the Crusaders is consistently superb. Against the Highlanders, Taylor made 27 meters on eight carries, including two clean breaks, one defender beaten, and five completed passes. He also added in six tackles, though surprisingly fell off of two. 

#3. Tyrel Lomax | Hurricanes 

Made a whopping 15/16 tackles during a massive defensive effort from the Canes. Added 5 meters on three carries, scrummed well, and did his job hitting the breakdowns. 

#4. Murray Douglas | Brumbies

The big Scottish lock for the Brumbies notched 25 meters on three carries, including one clean break, while also hauling in five lineouts, forcing one turnover, and recording 15/15 tackles in the win. 

#5. James Blackwell | Hurricanes

Blackwell loves putting in a hard day's work, and he did so once again over the weekend against the Chiefs. He made 13 tackles, collected three lineouts, carried five times for 16 meters, completed four passes, and made one line break. 

#6. Shannon Frizell | Highlanders

Another week, yet another great game for Frizell, who was the Highlanders' best player on the night against the Crusaders. Frizell had nine runs for 18 meters, one of which was a subime effort to score the Highlanders' first try of the game. He also made eight passes on the evening, two offloads, beat three defenders, took four lineouts, and most importantly made 19 tackles and forced one turnover. 

#7. Tom Christie | Crusaders

Christie was all-around solid for the Crusaders, particularly in attack. The openside flanker had 10 carries for 38 meters, scoring two tries and making seven passes. He also added six tackles on defense in a game where the Crusaders didn't have to make many tackles. 

#8. Ardie Savea | Hurricanes

Ardie delivered his best performance of the season and showed flashes of his pre-injury form when he was on the short-list for World Player of the Year. He carried six times for 63 meters, made 8/8 tackles, and recorded a key turnover late in the game on the goal line to stimey the Chiefs' comeback. 

#9. Tate McDermott | Reds

It was a cracking start to Super Rugby AU for the Reds and Tate McDermott, who was sizzling in Queensland on Friday. The youngster made 60 passes, ran four times for 56 meters, scored a cheeky little try, and kicked very well from hand. He also successfully employed the 50-22 rule to score about 45 meters of territory for the Reds in the first half of their game against the Waratahs. 

#10. Richie Mo'unga | Crusaders

Richie was typical Richie this week, directing the Crusaders all around the park, beating five defenders, making one clean break, and scoring 15 points. He mixed up his attack as usual, balancing his running, passing, and kicking, all of which he did quite well. He's the best game operator in the world, and he showed us all why that's the case once again on Saturday. He also made all ten of his tackles, which is strong for a fly-half. 

#11. Leicester Fainga'anuku | Crusaders

In a rare start, Fainga'anuku impressed for the Crusaders, making the most of his opportunities out there. He had 77 run meters on 12 carries, beating four defenders and making three clean breaks. He will have a hard time getting game time with the likes of George Bridge, David Havili, Will Jordan, and Sevu Reece in the back three, but he certainly did himself some favors this week. 

#12. Jack Goodhue | Crusaders

Goodhue was heavily involved for the Crusaders against the Highlanders, and was spot on in his decision making. Goodhue had 17 carries for 48 meters, and also completed 13 passes, beating four defenders, offloading twice, and making one clean break in the process. He also turned in nine tackles defensively to round off an extremely busy outing. 

#13. Alex Newsome | Waratahs

Newsome was lively in the Waratahs midfield during an exciting encounter with the Reds. He ran seven times for 49 meters, beat three defenders, and had one clean break in the game. On defense, he also made seven out of his eight tackles. 

#14. Will Jordan | Crusaders

Is there anything left to say this year about Will Jordan other than "wow"? The guy is the form player in the world right now, and made the Highlanders his latest victims over the weekend. Along with his two fantastic tries, Jordan 127 meters running on 17 runs, beating 10 defenders, offloading twice, and making four clean breaks. 

#15. Jordie Barrett | Hurricanes 

Jordie was outstanding in his return to Super Rugby this weekend. He had two magnificent try assists, he punted extremely well, he ran pretty well, and made eight out of ten tackles from the full back position. He also kicked for two conversions and two penalties, including a monstrous 58 meter kick at the end of the half. 

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With international rugby coming back into full swing, two teams are looking for redemption and itching to make a statement on Saturday, as Wales takes on France. 

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What a topsy-turvy two years of rugby it’s been for England. 

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To say Covid-19 flipped the world upside-down is to beat an already-dead horse, but we can acknowledge once more how it’s made sizable waves across the rugby universe. 

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MLR Nationality Breakdown By Position: New England Freejacks

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The other day I was thinking about fly-halves in the MLR -- since that is my position -- and I got to thinking how few American players there are playing fly-half in Major League Rugby. The only ones I could think of off the top of my head were Ben Cima (SEA), Scott Dean (SEA), Tadgh Leader (NE) and Zinzan Elan-Puttick (AUS) -- and it's worth noting that both Leader and Elan-Puttick grew up playing rugby in Ireland and South Africa respectively. 

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