Here are our three standout rookies from round eight:
3 points: Kazuki Himeno (Highlanders)
Kazuki Himeno has gone from strength to strength in his four Highlanders appearances this season and was one of the side’s best in their 35-29 victory over the Blues. The 26-year-old Japanese international was an absolute dynamo during his 46 minutes on the field in Dunedin. From effecting crucial turnovers and making powerful tackles to scoring a vital try, Himeno was in the thick of the action under the roof and is rivalling the cult-like status enjoyed by fellow Brave Blossom Fuimaki Tanaka during his time in the Highlanders.
2 points: Sam Darry (Blues)
Sam Darry is one of those players who just looks like they belong at Super Rugby level. The 203cm tall lock has only made three appearances for the Blues but has slotted in like a seasoned veteran. While his set piece work is strong, Darry had some nice touches with ball in hand against the Highlanders and forced a five metre scrum early in the game to show that he is no slouch on defence either.
1 point: Dallas McLeod (Crusaders)
The versatile Dallas McLeod wasn’t on the field long but made an impact for the Crusaders with a couple of telling runs against the Chiefs. Although it wasn’t enough to help the Crusaders get over the line in Hamilton, it showed that the 21-year-old McLeod is a player to watch in the future.
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 2021.
10 points: Connor Garden-Bachop (Highlanders)
8 points: Kazuki Himeno (Highlanders)
7 points: Sam Darry (Blues)
5 points: Samipeni Finau (Chiefs)
4 points: Luke Campbell (Hurricanes)
3 points: Ruben Love (Hurricanes)
2 points: James Lay (Blues), Jack Regan (Highlanders), Adrian Choat (Blues), Kaylum Boshier (Chiefs)
1 point: Chay Fihaki (Crusaders), Josh Lord (Chiefs), Dallas McLeod