We look at some of the key contenders who will be in action this weekend in round seven of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa
One of the most hotly contested positions for the South will be at fullback where the Hurricanes Jordie Barrett and the Crusaders Will Jordan are emerging as top contenders. The talented pair have the chance to press their case to South coaches Brad Mooar and Greg Feek when they square off in the 15 jersey at Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday. Will Jordan has been simply sensational for the Crusaders on attack and deserves to sit at the top of the try-scoring ladder with five tries. He also leads the competition in metres made with 344 and has impressed with his broken play running and opportunism. Jordie Barrett missed the first two games for the Hurricanes and it may come as no surprise that they have won three straight since he has returned from injury. The 23-year-old has refined his game over recent seasons and the added ability of being able to land penalties from over 50 metres out may appeal to the South selectors.
In a match-up that could well be repeated on August 29 at Eden Park, Hurricanes dynamo Ngani Laumape squares off against Jack Goodhue in the 12 jersey in Christchurch. Laumape made a huge statement against the Blues last week with one of the best individual performances of the season and will be eager to repeat that against All Blacks incumbent Jack Goodhue. Although hailing from Northland, Goodhue made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 2014 and is therefore eligible for the South. Palmerston North-born Laumape has represented Manawatu since 2016 and another standout display for the Hurricanes will make North coaches John Plumtree and Scott McLeod sit up and take notice. With Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown and Rob Thompson among the other players vying for a spot in the North midfield, Laumape will need to make every post a winner.
At a combined weight of over 250kg, there will be no backward steps taken when Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi meet in the number three jersey at Eden Park this Sunday. Samoa-born Laulala is eligible for the South due to making his provincial debut for Canterbury while Tonga-born Ofa Tuungafasi is eligible for the North with Auckland being the only provincial side he has represented in New Zealand. Both players are world class exponents at set piece time and damaging defenders. Laulala will be keen to impress South selectors and book a spot in what is looking to be a very strong front row with Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Tyrell Lomax among the other eligible front rowers. The North’s propping stocks are equally strong with Angus Ta’avao and Karl Tu’inukuafe and Alex Fidow among the players available for selection up front.
The two 28-strong North and South squads are due to be announced on Tuesday 18 August, two days after the Blues and Crusaders play out the final match of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa at Eden Park. Grab your tickets HERE.