We pick our Super Rugby Dream XV.
THE LIONS GET TO DO IT EVERY FOUR YEARS – PICK THE BEST FROM FOUR NATIONS. SEEMED TO WORK FOR THEM SO WE HAVE GIVEN IT A TRY – SELECTING THE BEST OF THE BEST FROM THE AVAILABLE SUPER RUGBY TALENT.
15 ISRAEL FOLAU [Waratahs]
He’s had a sabbatical, in which time he also got married. So he’s likely to be in a great head space, well rested and supremely conditioned. That will make him super dangerous and when this guy is in the mood, the results are devastating.
14 BEN SMITH [Highlanders]
He prefers fullback and will play there for the Highlanders. But he’s just as good on the wing and for the purposes of this Dream Team we want him and Folau in tandem.
Smith is an all-round footballer who, like Folau, is coming back after an extended break and is expected to be in great shape. We all know what he can do.
13 JACK GOODHUE [Crusaders]
We like Jack Goodhue. He’s a measured, smart player who is accurate and dogged. He doesn’t overplay his hand, he doesn’t underplay it either and he didn’t get enough credit last year for straightening the Crusaders’ attack.
12 NGANI LAUMAPE [Hurricanes]
This was a three-way choice between Kurtley Beale, Sonny Bill Williams and Ngani Laumape. We have gone with the latter on the basis that last year he scored 15 tries and, at this level, he’s quite lethal.
There isn’t much subtlety to his game but so what – he’s pretty effective at storming over the gainline and using his enormous power to blast over the top of defenders.
11 RIEKO IOANE [Blues]
He wants to play centre and we know he’s good at it, but we prefer Rieko Ioane on the wing where he can better use his pace, can pop up in unexpected places and he can be unleashed from deep.
All we really know is that you would look ridiculously stupid if you didn’t have him in your team somewhere. Our gameplan is to simply give him the ball.
10 BEAUDEN BARRETT [Hurricanes]
There can only be one player to wear the No 10 shirt. Beauden Barrett is head and shoulders the best first-five in the competition. He brings all the core skills, but he also brings an incredible ability to pull off miracles.
His pace is devastating at this level where there is a bit more space and he’ll launch a significant number of effective counter-attacks from all over the field.
9 AARON SMITH [Highlanders]
Just as there was an obvious choice at No 10, so too was it an easy selection at halfback. Aaron Smith brings everything to the game.
His passing is at the heart of his game but his kicking has increasingly been a weapon.
Smith’s tactical control and ability to ignite those around him is outstanding.
8 DAVID POCOCK [Brumbies]
Bit of a strange one this as David Pocock isn’t really a No 8 despite the fact he’s played a number of tests there. We will sacrifice height at the lineout to have Pocock’s strength over the ball.
Look at the backline – if Pocock can win turnover ball imagine the carnage that could ensue.
7 KWAGGA SMITH [Lions]
There were plenty of candidates for the openside role in the Dream XV. Sam Cane and Ardie Savea were two, Matt Todd another and so too Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
But we have given the job to Kwagga Smith whose energy and never say die attitude swung him the selection. He’s a No 7 who gets into everything and we find that impossible not to like.
6 PABLO MATERA [Jaguares]
We want real starch and presence in our No 6 and nobody gives more of that than Pablo Matera. There is a real quiet hardman sense about him that intimidates.
He has an edge, a desire to impose himself and he loves nothing more than a bit of posttackle scuffling. Wins lineout ball, makes tackles and pinches the odd turnover, too.
5 SAM WHITELOCK [Crusaders]
There’s no getting past the fact that Sam Whitelock has to be in this Dream XV. He does everything – wins kickoffs and lineouts, cleans out, tackles, carries and these days he inspires with his leadership.
Big Sam was such a prominent feature of last year’s successful campaign that it is hard to imagine the Crusaders could be the same team without him.
4 BRODIE RETALLICK [Chiefs]
If Whitelock is the fish, then Brodie Retallick is the chips. These two are individually brilliant but collectively even better again.
Retallick has had an extended break and will be fizzing to play. And we can only imagine what he’ll be like with a bit of pent-up energy to release. Does anyone carry the ball better up the middle of the field?
3 OFA TU’UNGAFASI [Blues]
Interesting choice this one but justified. Around the field Tu’ungafasi is a big contributor. He tackles like a loose forward. Seriously, he’s agile and explosive and when he launches himself at people, he really hurts them.
He also carries well, can pass and catch – although he does need to tighten the accuracy – and he can scrummage.
2 DANE COLES [Hurricanes]
This was a toss up between Coles and Malcolm Marx. Coles wins the selection because we feel he’s got more variation in his game and a touch of unpredictability.
Coles is also a strong leader and doesn’t much enjoy ever coming off second in anything.
1 JOE MOODY [Crusaders]
Easy choice this one because Joe Moody has shown himself to be quite the dynamic force. The man has surprising pace and he can get about the field.
Increasingly he’s contributing away from the set piece and we know he can offload and do all sorts of other fancy pants things.