Four players have been selected from each team and now it is over to fans to vote for their MVP based on the first seven rounds of Super Rugby. Here are your four options from the Highlanders:
When Jesse Parete ventured south from the Bay of Plenty Steamers to take up his role with the Highlanders, the prospect of averaging 68.8 minutes across five games for the side would have been at the farthest end of his hopes. But the no-nonsense tight-loose forward has quickly made his presence felt with the southern men. He's managed an 83 percent tackle success rate and his 44 carries, largely in close quarter pick-and-go situations has resulted in him making 28 metres to date. His no-look flick pass to set up Aaron Smith for a try against the Rebels was one of the best try-assists of the season.
Having stayed the distance with the Highlanders when they lost so many of their experienced brigade in the post-World Cup hiatus, halfback Aaron Smith has become a vital part of the side's leadership on the field. Playing as well as ever, in spite of the lack of success for the side, he remains a player opposing sides need to contain. He averages 52.8 passes per game and had made 264 as the season went into its enforced break. His speed is still a benchmark by which all other halfbacks are measured.
For a side which has enjoyed outside backs of the ability of Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo in recent years, Jonah Nareki has stepped up to the mark with some fine running play on his left wing. He's picked up three tries, run 209 metres and beaten 14 defenders. His seven clean breaks are a reminder of his low-slung running style making him such a hard player to pick off. His experience at the top level has helped him make a quick impact with the side.
In the reshaped Highlanders pack, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u has been growing into his role and is another setting himself for a long-term role with the side. A powerful runner with ball in hand, he has made 228 run metres while beating 13 defenders with his 33 carries. His game time is getting up with an average of 62.7 minutes while he has achieved a 84 percent tackle success rate.