1. Alex Hodgman (Blues)
Known as a very capable bench option for both the Crusaders and the Blues in recent seasons, Alex Hodgman made giant strides in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa with regular loosehead prop Karl Tu’inukuafe injured throughout the opening rounds. While his set-piece play was sound, Hodgman formed an intimidating partnership with fellow prop Ofa Tuungafasi on defence and made an impressive 33 ball carries across the competition.
2. Codie Taylor (Crusaders)
With Scott Barrett injured, Codie Taylor stood up as the Crusaders skipper and led them through to the inaugural Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa title. Taylor took his ball-running game to another level in 2020 with his attacking statistics of 240 run metres, nine clean breaks and six defenders beaten reading more like a midfield back than a front rower. To cap off Taylor’s season, he was voted as the ‘Champion Crusader’ ‘by his teammates at their season awards.
3. Ofa Tuungafasi (Blues)
During lockdown Ofa Tuungafasi turned heads with a viral training clip where he transformed his car into a scrum machine in his backyard. The innovative training obviously worked for Tuungafasi who hit career best form during Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. While most fans will remember his earth shuddering tackles, Tuungafasi’s work rate and presence around the park was another step in the evolution of the Tongan-born prop.
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues)
Although Investec Super Rugby was only 10 weeks long, we saw players grow and develop during the competition. No one fits into this category more than Patrick Tuipulotu who established himself as one of the most inspirational leaders in the country. The Blues have struggled to be a unified force and fulfil their potential over the past decade, but under Tuipulotu’s captaincy they flourished and brought the fans back through the gates at Eden Park. Tuipulotu was rewarded with the captaincy of the North side for the hotly anticipated Steinlager North v South clash on August 29.
5. Pari Pari Parkinson (Highlanders)
A towering presence at 2.04cm tall, Parkinson showed he has the ability to go with his size during an impressive Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign. Playing in all eight games for the Highlanders, Parkinson was a reliable option at lineout time and grew into an enforcer-type role with his strong defence and hard ball running. An injury late in the competition cruelly robbed Parkinson of a chance to play in the Steinlager North v South clash.
6. Shannon Frizell (Highlanders)
Shannon Frizell is one player who started Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa in top form and just continued to get better. With ball in hand, there weren’t many in the competition better than Frizell who racked up 300 run metres, beat 12 defenders and made eight clean breaks.
7. Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs)
The turnover maestro, Lachlan Boshier confirmed his place as one of the premier loose forwards in the country during Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. On defence, Boshier finished the season with an incredible tackle success rate of 94%. Boshier also showed his ability with ball in hand with four tries and 106 run metres.
Unlucky: Dalton Papalii, Dillon Hunt
8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (Highlanders)
Largely a bit-player for the Highlanders prior to the 2020 season, Mikaele-Tu’u was a revelation for the southern side in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. A dynamic ball-runner and punishing defender, Mikaele-Tu’u was a constant performer for the Highlanders and finished the competition with 11 offloads, the most of any player. Mikaele-Tu’u was unlucky to miss out on selection in the North side for the Steinlager North v South clash but will no doubt be in line for higher honours in the future if he can maintain his form.
Unlucky: Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu
9. Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
An extremely classy campaign, which included notching up his 150th game for his beloved Highlanders. Aaron Smith seems to be getting better with age. He was instrumental in that clutch last-minute win over the Chiefs in Hamilton and led by example alongside Ash Dixon all season. He topped the charts for the most passes in the competition, with 542 in eight games.
10. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
He single-handedly changed games during the competition. That short kick off against the Blues, clearly one of the best plays seen on a rugby field. Mo’unga has been in electrifying form for the Crusaders and was pivotal to their success, yet again. He was top points scorer on 99 and beat the second most defenders in the comp with 35. Mo’unga showcased some freakish talent in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa and his offloading and kicking game was outstanding.
11. George Bridge (Crusaders)
A slow start by Bridge’s standards, the Crusaders winger ramped his game up to another gear midway through the season. He’s Mr. Consistent. Hardly puts a foot wrong and does his job well. He always makes useful metres and that insane kick-and-chase try he scored against the Hurricanes will go down as one of the tries of the year.
Unlucky: Caleb Clarke
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs)
While Anton Lienert-Brown didn’t do anything flashy this season, nor did he have much success with the Chiefs, he’s another player who is consistently sound and reliable on defence. He took a head knock during the middle of the season, but still in seven games scored two tries, made 72 carries, 55 tackles and won five turnovers.
Unlucky: Ngani Laumape
13. Peter Umaga-Jensen (Hurricanes)
The young Hurricanes midfielder made his mark on Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa, making the most of his opportunities when Ngani Laumape was ruled out with injury. He only played five games, but they were five solid performances. Dangerous with ball in hand, and strong on his feet, the 22 year-old outplayed many of his more experienced opposition. He scored four tries, made 40 carries, and gained 201 metres.
14. Will Jordan (Crusaders)
A star of the competition. The young Crusaders outside back made every post a winner this season. Whether he was on the wing or at fullback, the 22 year-old was outstanding. Unassailable under the high ball, and threatening every time he had ball in hand, Jordan topped a significant amount of the stats charts. He scored the most tries (6), made the most metres (724), beat the most defenders (39) and made the most clean breaks (15). No wonder he caught the eyes of All Blacks selectors for the North v South match.
Unlucky: Sevu Reece, Mark Telea
15. Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)
Jordie Barrett missed the first two games of the competition, with his side already down two losses heading into a bye week. But he reemerged from a shoulder injury in round four and sparked the Hurricanes to a five game winning streak, putting them in a strong position to win the competition. Barrett was clutch with his kicking, booting successful penalties and conversions from all over the park. He was a key playmaker in the Hurricanes attack and shone in his match up with older brother, Beauden in the capital.