This could have been ex­tended to the 100 most mem­o­rable mo­ments such was the num­ber of things that hap­pened this year. But we are so lazy we stopped at 50.

NZ Rugby World - - Gregor Paul -

01 Rieko Ioane’s Open­ing Night Hat-Trick

Good old San­zaar made a quite ap­palling de­ci­sion to launch the 2017 Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion in Mel­bourne, with a game be­tween the re­spec­tive weak­est teams in the Aus­tralian and New Zealand Con­fer­ences...on a Thurs­day night. Ge­nius.

Thank good­ness then for Rieko Ioane who bright­ened what was threat­en­ing to be a dis­mal oc­ca­sion, played in front of thou­sands of empty seats, by scor­ing a bril­liant hat-trick.

02 Nehe Mil­nerSkud­der In­jury Drama Part I

Hav­ing missed vir­tu­ally all of 2016 with a dis­lo­cated shoulder, Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der made a wel­come re­turn to ac­tion with the Hur­ri­canes in round two of Su­per Rugby.

He was just be­gin­ning to find his rhythm when, un­be­liev­ably, on the same week­end that he’d dam­aged him­self the year be­fore, he broke his foot and was ruled out un­til early June.

03 Char­lie Ngatai Re­turns

Hav­ing missed much of 2016 due to pro­longed con­cus­sion symp­toms that were still plagu­ing him in early 2017, hope was fad­ing that Char­lie Ngatai would ever play again.

There were ru­mours he would have to give up the game for good. But in mid-April he man­aged to turn out for his club and in early May he was named to start for the Chiefs against the Reds in New Ply­mouth. It had been 11 months since he had played Su­per Rugby and in that time he had been picked as an All Black but forced to with­draw from the squad. He played well enough in his come­back and thank­fully now seems to have put his con­cus­sion trou­bles be­hind him.

04 Scott Robert­son Works His Rou­tine

It re­mains ar­guably the odd­est yet most en­dear­ing thing that Scott Robert­son, a man in his early 40s, can cred­i­bly break­dance.

Ra­zor has gained world renown for his love of cel­e­brat­ing ma­jor tro­phies by per­form­ing his well-worked rou­tine and he out­did him­self at El­lis Park, where he flipped and spun mirac­u­lously well af­ter his Cru­saders team won their first ti­tle since 2008.

He be­came the sec­ond coach in five years to win a ti­tle in his first year in the job.

05 Vaea Fi­fita’s Try in New Ply­mouth

The big Hur­ri­canes flanker had un­usu­ally high ex­pec­ta­tions placed upon him by Steve Hansen be­fore the game against the Pu­mas.

The All Blacks coach said he rated Fi­fita as one of the best nat­u­ral ath­letes he’d ever seen and sug­gested that the po­ten­tial was there for the Ton­gan-born flanker to sit along­side the likes of Jerry Collins and Jerome Kaino.

Af­ter such a big build up, Fi­fita was un­der pres­sure not to dis­ap­point. And he didn’t. He scored a try mid­way through the sec­ond half where he stood up the Pu­mas right wing and then blasted past him to score in the cor­ner.

It was in­cred­i­ble – a 1.96m, 113kg fly­ing ma­chine.

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