NZ Super Rugby Team of the Decade

02 Apr 2020
NZ Super Rugby Team of the Decade

We select our Kiwi team of the last decade and what a team! Choc-a-block full of All Blacks of course...

New Zealand teams have won seven of the last 10 titles with the Crusaders leading the way with the last three titles followed by the Chiefs with two, and Highlanders and Hurricanes with one each. Despite the team dominance of the Crusaders on paper the statistics show the Hurricanes have contributed more individual players to the team of the last decade. Therein lies the secret of the Crusaders perhaps, a team of players, not a team of individuals?

The most capped Super Rugby player of all time Wyatt Crocket [pictured below] leads the front row having played 7,097 minutes in 202 matches. Crockett also scored the second most tries (9) and made the second-most tackles (729) amongst props.

Hard to argue with the lock combination of All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. Whitelock won more lineouts (367, inc. 51 steals) than any other New Zealand player in the last decade and made 1,053 tackles. Retallick played 7,898 minutes and made the most carries (694), metres gained (1,565), offloads (60) and beat the most defenders (81) of any New Zealand lock.

Kieran Read gets the nod at No.8 having gained the most metres (3,131) from the most carries (892) of any No.8 and was also one of only two such players to make 800+ tackles. No surprise that wrecking ball Ardie Savea gets the seven berth while the six jersey goes to Hurricane Brad Shields as his 722 tackles were the second most of any player to wear the No.6 jersey. Shields also won 59 turnovers, made 43 offloads and 36 clean breaks.

 

Highlander Ben Smith locks down the fullback spot with some impressive stats: He made the most carries (1,314) for the most metres gained (8,859) of any player in Super Rugby in the last decade; he also beat the most defenders (379) of any player in this period and scored 33 tries. He is joined in the back three by try-scoring wingers Waisake Naholo [45 tries] and Julian Savea [50 tries] who joins his brother in the team.

The centre combination is a powerful one with Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown - still active their line-breaking and ability to beat defenders comes to the fore. The halves are not a surprise either with Hurricanes' scrum-half TJ Perenara getting the nod at nine. TJ scored the most tries (55) of any New Zealand player in the last decade, gained the most metres (3,445) of any scrum-half and was the only such player to make 100+ clean breaks (115). 

At 10 is Beauden Barrett whose statistics are very impressive. He is the top point-scorer (1,238) in Super Rugby in the last 10 years, while no fly-half scored more tries (34) or beat more defenders (236); Barrett also made the second most try assists (60) of any player. He is the NZ Player of the Decade.

15

Ben Smith

Highlanders

Made the most carries (1,314) for the most metres gained (8,859) of any player in Super Rugby in the last decade; Smith also beat the most defenders (379) of any player in this period and scored 33 tries - only Israel Folau (49) scored more playing fullback.

14

Waisake Naholo

Highlanders/Blues

Only two New Zealand players scored more tries than Naholo (45) in Super Rugby in the last 10 years; he made 600 carries for 4,339 metres gained and 109 clean breaks.

13

Anton Lienert-Brown

Chiefs

Made the second-most carries (361) for the second-most metres gained (1,661) of any New Zealand No.13; indeed, Lienert-Brown was the only NZ player to make 50+ clean breaks (57) at the position. 

12

Ngani Laumape

Hurricanes

Scored 43 tries from inside centre, the most of any No.12 in the last 10 years of Super Rugby; beat 231 defenders in 590 carries and made 51 offloads.

11

Julian Savea

Hurricanes

Scored the third-most tries (50) of any player in Super Rugby in the last decade; Savea was also one of only three players to gain 7,000+ metres (7,205) from his 1,008 carries.

10

Beauden Barrett

Hurricanes

The top point-scorer (1,238) in Super Rugby in the last 10 years, while no fly-half scored more tries (34) or beat more defenders (236); Barrett also made the second most try assists (60) of any player.

9

TJ Perenara

Hurricanes

Scored the most tries (55) of any New Zealand player in Super Rugby in the last decade and second most overall; Perenara also gained the most metres (3,445) of any scrumhalf and was the only such player to make 100+ clean breaks (115). 

1

Wyatt Crockett

Crusaders

Played more minutes (7,097) than any other New Zealand prop in Super Rugby in the last decade; Crockett also scored the second most tries (9) and made the second-most tackles (729) amongst such players. 

2

Codie Taylor

Crusaders

Gained 1,157 metres from 338 carries as he made the third most clean breaks (44) of any hooker overall in the last decade; Taylor also produced the most try assists (13) of any player in his position and the fifth most tackles (542).

3

Jeff Toomaga-Allen

Hurricanes

Made 201 carries for 501 metres gained - only one New Zealand prop has made more metres in the last 10 years of Super Rugby; Toomaga-Allen also beat the second most defenders (41) of any NZ prop in this period. 

4

Sam Whitelock

Crusaders

Won more lineouts (367, inc. 51 steals) than any other New Zealand player in Super Rugby in the last decade; Whitelock also made 1,053 tackles - no NZ player in his position made more. 

5

Brodie Retallick

Chiefs

Only one New Zealand player in his position played more minutes (7,898), Retallick also made the most carries (694), metres gained (1,565), offloads (60) and beat the most defenders (81) of any New Zealand player in his position overall.

6

Brad Shields

Hurricanes

His 722 tackles were the second most of any player to wear the No.6 jersey in the last 10 years of Super Rugby; Shields also won 59 turnovers, made 43 offloads and 36 clean breaks.

7

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes

Made the second most clean breaks (84), defenders beaten (219) and try assists (22) of any forward in the last 10 years of Super Rugby.

8

Kieran Read

Crusaders

Gained the most metres (3,131) from the most carries (892) of any No.8 Super Rugby in the last decade; Read was also one of only two such players to make 800+ tackles (841).

 

Opta Index: How does it work

The Opta Index allows genuine opportunities to compare and contrast both player and team strengths and weaknesses across Super Rugby, providing real insights pre-game as follows: 
After every match Opta completes a video analysis of every touch of the ball. Each action in the match is awarded a points value depending on the relative importance of the action. So for example, a try scores more points than a tackle, but a player loses points for a missed tackle.

The points are then weighted against the score at the time when the action took place (higher points if the score is closer), the time in the match (higher points at the start of the match) and the position on the pitch where it took place (higher points for actions closer to the goal line).

The player is then given a score for the match by adding up all his actions while he was on the field. The total match score is then weighted to take account of the strength of the opposition so that performances across many matches can be judged fairly.