It was another busy week for the New Zealand contingent of players across the European competitions, with a handful making all the difference in their sides’ fortunes.
Here’s a look at the top performers:
Charles Piutau, Ulster
The million pound man was the object of a bit of media attention back in NZ, saying that his ‘days in a black jersey are over’. That will not concern Ulster one bit, especially since his try assist, 83 metres run and three tackles were crucial in their Pro14 win over Irish rivals Connacht. He was up against Kiwi-turned Irishman Bundee Aki, who had a quiet game despite 16 carries.
Callum Gibbins, Glasgow
A few months ago Gibbins was playing a big part in the Hurricanes’ charge to the Super Rugby semis, but since has slotted straight into the Glasgow Warriors set up nicely. He found himself in familiar surroundings over the weekend in Bloemfontein, and made the Cheetahs pay with two tries from 12 carries that netted 64 metres. He also managed to make 11 tackles in Glasgow’s 29-26 win.
Willi Heinz, Gloucester
The former Canterbury and Crusaders halfback managed to get on the scoresheet as Gloucester rebounded from their heavy defeat to Sale last week. This time around they managed to get over Northampton 29-24 in a close tussle, Heinz contributed with a crucial try, as well as 54 metres run.
Blair Cowan, London Irish
OK, so he’s technically Scottish due to his 17 test caps, but it doesn’t erase the fact that he was born in Wellington. His London Irish side went down in a thriller to Leicester at Madejeski Stadium, however Cowan impressed with a try, seven carries and 27 metres gained. Outside him was former Tasman and Hurricanes flyhalf James Marshall, playing his fourth game for the club.
Tony Ensor, Stade Francais
The former Otago and sometime Highlanders winger Ensor had a big game in Paris glamour club Stade’s win over Montpellier. He crossed for a try and ran 44 metres off six carries, which helped move the club up to a slightly more respectable 10th on the ladder. It must be noted that big-spending Montpellier had rested a lot of their stars, including former All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden.