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Super Rugby Pacific team of the week for round four

By Finn Morton
Fergus Burke of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and Crusaders at Eden Park, on March 18, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The fourth round of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific season didn’t disappoint. The Chiefs, Brumbies and Crusaders showcased their championship credentials, while the Highlanders won their first match of the campaign.

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Defending champions the Crusaders returned to winning ways on Saturday with a thrilling win over the Blues in a rematch of last year’s final at Eden Park.

It was a tough contest, but the Crusaders lived up to their title as champions with the 34-28 victory. The Crusaders made a statement with the win – they had to be at their best, and were.

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The Crusaders have dominated the Round Four team of the week with a staggering six selections, while three Hurricanes also stood out during their win over the Waratahs.

Following every round of Super Rugby Pacific this season, RugbyPass will name its team of the week. Here’s the TOTW for Round Four.

  1. Fergus Burke (Crusaders)

The Crusaders fullback displaces Shaun Stevenson for the first time this season. The 23-year-old first five turned fullback had perhaps his best game for the Crusaders, injecting himself on a switch play to slice through the Blues defence to score a try. He showed his ball playing ability later in the half when he fired a cutout pass to the open man Leicester Fainga’anuku for a try assist. His biggest play came on defence when he dislodged the ball from Blues lock James Tucker over the line to prevent a try.

The No 15 was excellent all over the park linking in well on attack. He may have cemented a move to fullback in the intermediate term.

  1. Emoni Narawa (Chiefs)

Following a slow start against the Rebels, the Chiefs needed a hero and winger Emoni Narawa answered the call.

Narawa was simply sensational throughout the first half, and it all started with an unforgettable try assist in the 21st minute. The winger got the ball inside his own half, and charged at the Rebels’ defensive line with both deception and intent. Narawa beat two tackle attempts on his 60 metre burst, and also got an offload off to try-scorer Rameka Poihipi.

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Shortly after, Poihipi returned the favour by setting up Narawa – who had plenty of work to do en route to the try line. Narawa ran onto a chip kick and somehow managed to stay inside the field of play, as he danced along the right touchline. The 23-year-old finished the match 105 running metres from 12 carries, and he’d also beaten seven defenders during his impressive performance.

Brumbies winger Andy Muirhead deserves an honourable mention, and was very unlucky not to make the team of the week after scoring two tries against Moana Pasifika.

  1. Josh Flook (Reds)

Rising star Josh Flook had a first half to remember against the Fijian Drua in Brisbane. Flook scored the first try of the afternoon in the 11th minute, and crossed for his second later in the half. The outside centre should’ve had a first half hat-trick too, but dropped the ball cold with the try line within reach.

Flook stole the show throughout a dominant opening 40 from the Reds, and continued to impress throughout the second half. The Queenslander also starred on the defensive side of the ball with nine tackles – which was the second-most out of any Reds back.

  1. Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Highlanders)

Thomas Umaga-Jensen led the way for the Highlanders’ backs in both attack and defence in Round Four – without a doubt, it was his best performance of the season so far. Umaga-Jensen was dominant on both sides of the ball, and the Highlanders wouldn’t have won their first match of the year without him.

The inside centre was dominant in defnece, having made an impressive 11 tackles. But Umaga-Jensen stole the show with his tireless work rate in attack as he carried the ball 15 times for 64 running metres, and beat four defenders as well.

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Crusaders No. 12 Dallas McLeod was a close second this week. If Round Four is anything to go by, then McLeod appears to be an All Black in waiting. 

  1. Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders)

Hat-trick hero Leicester Fainga’anuku was on another level in the rematch of last year’s final against the Blues. Wingers are judged on their ability to score tries, and the Crusaders’ flyer was scoring them for fun at Eden Park.

Fainga’anuku scored three tries, ran for a game-high 122 running metres, and beat five defenders during his player of the match performance. His third try was especially impressive as the Crusaders went coast-to-coast to silence the home crowd fans.

The Crusaders winger is tough, and deserves some credit for that. Fainga’anuku played through a rib injury last weekend, telling Sky Sport that he “copped some loose cartilage” during Super Round. That’s tough.

  1. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)

The Crusaders are 2-2 this season, and that record is reflection of their star playmaker Richie Mo’unga. When Mo’unga is on song, so are the Crusaders – but if he’s not playing well or at all, the defending champions have struggled in 2023.

Mo’unga made the RugbyPass team of the week in Round Two after guiding the title holders to a Super Round victory over the Highlanders. The flyhalf didn’t play in the loss to Fijian Drua, but helped his side return to winning ways with another vintage display.

The star pivot scored nine of the Crusaders’ points, and also registered one try assist during the thrilling win over the Blues. Mo’unga also ran the ball for a staggering 64 metres, and made 90 per cent of his tackles. 

  1. Cam Roigard (Hurricanes)

Hurricanes scrumhalf Cam Roigard was one of the players of the round. Having followed in the footsteps of a Super Rugby giant this season – with veteran TJ Perenara injured – the 22-year-old has more than held his own in the Hurricanes’ No. 9 jersey.

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Roigard stole the show with a double, and was otherwise at his playmaking best around the park. The scrumhalf was accurate, quick and smart with both his passing and kicking game, and also ran the ball with purpose and intent when called upon.

  1. James Slipper (Brumbies)

Super Rugby veteran James Slipper put in an impressive shift against Moana Pasifika, which included some tough carries with the ball. But Slipper – as he often does – played a key role in the Brumbies’ dominance at the set-piece.

  1. Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes)

Having been named for his first start of the season, Asafo Aumua took his opportunity with both hands. Speaking on The Platform in the leadup to the Round Four opener, Aumua spoke with Martin Devlin about the importance of the set-piece – and the Hurricanes hooker was perfect in that area on Friday. Aumua only had a few throws at the lineout, but hit all of his targets.

Aumua also put in a shift around the field, having three defenders from his five carries with the ball. Brumbies star Lachlan Lonergan was also quite impressive this week.

  1. Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes)

Hurricanes prop Tyrel Lomax might be in career-best form at the moment. Lomax has been absolutely sensational across the opening four rounds of the season, which included another standout display against the Waratahs.

The Hurricanes dominated the scrum battle against the Tahs, and that reflects quite highly on the All Black. Lomax also put in a shift around the filed, which included seven tackles from as many attempts on the defensive side of the game.

  1. Scott Barrett (Crusaders)

Spoiler alert for those reading on but the Crusaders’ world-class second-row of Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock have both made the team of the week. Starting with Barrett, the All Black led by example on Saturday – a true captains knock from the No. 4.

Barrett never fails to deliver for the Crusaders whenever he runs out in the famous red jersey. In the rematch of last year’s final, the star finished with 100 per cent tackle accuracy from 13 attempts. Barrett was also a menace in attack with 10 carries, and was one of the go-to players at the lineout.

  1. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)

Sam Whitelock was a clear choice in the Round Four team of the week following his display in Auckland. Teammate Scott Barrett was great, but Whitelock was even better. The All Blacks and Crusaders veteran made a staggering 15 tackles on Friday night, and also ran the ball seven times – beating three defenders in the process. 

  1. Ethan Blackadder (Crusaders)

One of the many questions facing the All Blacks this year is who starts at blindside flanker? Akira Ioane and Shannon Frizell are among the front runners, but so is Ethan Blackadder – in fact, after last weekend’s performance, he’s certainly put his hand up for that No. 6 jumper.

Blackadder has been sensational for the Crusaders this season, and Saturday night was no different. The flanker works tirelessly around the field in the pursuit of victory; he made 12 tackles and ran the ball 11 times.

  1. Luke Reimer (Brumbies)

Out of all of the positions this week, openside flanker was the toughest one to call. Crusaders star Tom Christie made 22 tackles, but was pipped by Brumbies flanker Luke Reimer – but only just.

The Brumbies’ famous rolling maul worked wonders for them once again on Saturday, with Reimer scoring two tries on the night. But the flanker also got stuck in around the field as he made 12 tackles.

  1. Langi Gleeson (Waratahs)

Langi Gleeson is the best player in Australian rugby right now. As far as form goes, the No. 8 has been a standout for the Tahs during an otherwise tough start to their 2023 campaign.

The Waratahs were beaten by the Canes on Friday, but it didn’t stop Gleeson from standing out. Especially in attack, the loose forward was simply on another level. Gleeson ran for more than 100 metres from 10 carries, beat two defenders, and also crossed for a try late in the piece.

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isaac 454 days ago

I think drua halfback Frank Lomani has been superb for the fijians and deserved mention

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