Here are our three stand out rookies from round five.
3 Points: Mark Telea (Blues)
At the start of the season Mark Telea was a relatively unknown name in the Blues squad but after five rounds he is surely one of the first names that coach Leon McDonald pencils into the starting line-up. Telea has already shown his finishing acumen with four tries this season but it was his ability to create something out of nothing that shone against the table topping Stormers on the weekend. Telea is a player with genuine x-factor and his rise on the left wing makes Rieko Ioane’s switch to the midfield all that much easier.
2 Points: Kurt Eklund (Blues)
At 28-years-old, it’s fair to say that Kurt Eklund is an elder statesman among the rookie class of 2020. Having been on the domestic scene since 2015, Eklund showed the benefit of his experience in the Blues stirring win against the Stormers in Cape Town. With regular hooker James Parsons out injured, Eklund stepped up against a rugged Stormers pack. While his set-piece play couldn’t be faulted, Eklund also lead the Blues in the tackle count and made 32 metres with ball in hand – the most of any member of the tight five from either side.
1 point: Scott Gregory (Highlanders)
Although it was a largely disappointing night for Highlanders fans against the Rebels, the debut of sevens flyer Scott Gregory was a highlight. Gregory came on late in the match and had a couple of nice touches before crossing for a try. The 21-year-old will feel better for the experience and should get more minutes as the season wears on – dependent on his sevens commitments.
8 points: Mark Telea (Blues)
6 points: Cullen Grace (Crusaders, Tom Christie (Crusaders)
3 points: Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders),
2 points: Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (Highlanders), Kurt Eklund (Blues)
1 point: Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs), Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Scott Gregory (Highlanders)
NOTE: The qualification for rookies is players that are either playing in their first season of Super Rugby or who are playing their first season as a contracted player and have played less than five games prior to 2019.