DYLAN JACK of SA Rugby Magazine looks back at the past weekend’s Super Rugby action in New Zealand and Australia and picks out the five most impressive performances.
Will Jordan (Crusaders)
The undoubted star of the weekend, Jordan showcased his quality with a brace of tries as the Crusaders fought to an ultimately comfortable 40-20 win against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The 22-year-old defied physics to stay infield with an acrobatic finish in the corner for his first try, despite the attention of a couple of Highlanders defenders.
Jordan’s second try was something special, though. Getting the ball out wide inside his own half from Jack Goodhue, he chipped it ahead, caught his own kick and raced away to seal the win for the Crusaders. It was a moment when Jordan was able to display all his talents – from his vision to his pace and outstanding execution.
In total, Jordan made 127 metres from 17 carries, beat 10 defenders, made four linebreaks, six passes and two offloads.
As I wrote in my summary of the weekend’s action, Jordan should cause All Blacks coach Ian Foster quite the headache when it comes to selecting his first squad when Test rugby resumes.
Shannon Frizell (Highlanders)
Together with teammate and All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith, Frizell was a major contributor to the Highlanders’ efforts to stay in the contest against the Crusaders until the final 10 minutes.
The blindside flank worked incredibly hard through the 80 minutes, attempting 24 tackles and completing 19 of them, while he also won a turnover for his team.
On attack, Frizell made nine carries and one of them resulted in a try as he stormed his way through a number of attempted tackles and over the tryline.
The 26-year-old All Black also showed some subtle touches, making eight passes and two offloads.
Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)
Having missed the opening rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa through injury, Barrett made a welcome return to the Hurricanes starting lineup in their first win of the tournament against the Chiefs.
The 23-year-old showed no signs of rustiness as he produced two wonderful touches to twice set up South African wing Kobus van Wyk for a brace of tries.
Barrett showcased his massive boot as his confidently slotted a Frans Steyn-esque 60m penalty to give the Hurricanes a handy 20-3 lead at half time.
His kicking game was also key in the second half as the Hurricanes went into defensive mode after losing a player to a red card, with his clearances doing plenty to ease the pressure on his team.
Jack Maddocks (Waratahs)
Despite ending up on the losing side in a tight encounter with the Reds, Maddocks was one of the best performers on the pitch in Brisbane.
The 23-year-old seized the chance to start at fullback – vacant after veteran Kurtley Beale’s departure to France – showing why he has been touted a future Wallabies star.
Along with scoring one of the Waratahs’ tries, Maddocks ran 139m from 16 carries – the most of any player across the four Super Rugby matches – beating two defenders, making three linebreaks, 14 passes and two offloads.
After a disappointing 2019 when he missed out on selection for the Wallabies’ World Cup squad, Maddocks appears to have rediscovered his confidence.
Noah Lolesio (Brumbies)
Another promising young player who could form part of the next era of Wallabies players, Lolesio produced a man of the match performance to guide the Brumbies to an opening-round win against the Rebels.
Facing the more experienced Matt To’omua, the 20-year-old stole the spotlight from his opposite number as he fearlessly ran at the Brumbies whenever he could.
In total, Lolesio made eight carries for 71m, beating six defenders, making two clean breaks and 17 passes.
One of his linebreaks led to setting up wing Tom Wright for a try, while he also nailed a couple of clutch kicks to help his side claim the victory.
Reports from Australia suggest that new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie won’t shy away from investing in young players, so Lolesio could make a genuine attempt at a place in the Test squad if he keeps this form up.