We have just released our player rankings for the 2017 Super Rugby season. There was some stiff competition to be number 1. A lot of analysis and head scratching went in to deciding this coveted position but in the end the number 1 ranking went to…….
1. Ardie Savea – Loose Forward, Hurricanes.
You could throw a blanket over a cluster of elite players that anyone would be more than happy drafting up the top, but Ardie separated himself for one key reason, as a flanker he is that much more valuable above his positional peers. His 5 tries from last season are repeatable, and his metres gained were colossal from a forward. On top of that he’s a fringe All Black pressing for his place in a huge Lions series, so unlike established All Blacks he’ll continue to go out there all guns blazing, so expect him to even go up a notch from 2016. If you are fortunate enough to land the number 1 pick in your draft, lock him in!
2. Damian McKenzie – Fullback, Chiefs.
McKenzie had a breakout season last year and topped Super Rugby in a lot of key categories – metres gained, defenders beaten, clean breaks. He was also close to topping the stats in some other key categories – turnovers (45) and missed tackles (18). It shows that he is still far from the finished product, a fact the All Blacks seemed to recognise last season in giving him very limited playing time. He appeals as a fringe All Black who will definitely be pushing for a place every week, and I doubt that Shag will be asking for him to be rested in many games leading up to the Lions series. We predict a slight dip from last year for McKenzie. He will likely see a decrease from his 10 tries, but on the flip side, time in the All Black squad will have hopefully hones his efficiency in other areas that he was found wanting in 2016.
3. Ben Smith – Fullback, Highlanders.
Ben from Accounts would know only too well how phenomenal his statistical ledger looks across the board. I still swear I’ve never seen the first man actually tackle him, and only Damian McKenzie had more clean breaks. As a team captain he should continue to see his high usage rate, particularly given the Highlanders will likely be competing for the title again. He’s a joy to watch on the field and you’ll enjoy watching him ghost past defenders even more if he’s the cornerstone of your fantasy rugby squad for 2017.
4. Israel Folau – Centre, Waratahs.
The transition to centre for the Waratahs didn’t hurt Folau’s production, and remains in the centres for the this Super Rugby season. From the centres he is able to rack up the metres, can beat defenders almost at will when he’s really on, and he has a real eye for the tryline as evidenced by his 11 last season. That is repeatable this year as he is the focal point of the Waratahs backline attack.
5. Beauden Barrett – Fly Half, Hurricanes.
Beauden Barrett certainly had himself a year last year. He steered the Hurricanes to the franchises first ever Super title. He began the international season considered to be an ‘impact’ player, rarely getting more than 20 minutes at the end of tests, and finished it as the unquestioned best fly half in the world and the IRB Player of the Year to boot. With kicking not a statistical category at Rugby Boss, Barrett gets a lot of points from the fly half position through his attacking prowess and nose for the tryline.
Rounding out the top 10:
6. Samu Kerevi – Centre, Reds
7. Rieko Ioane – Centre, Blues
8. Ngani Laumape – Centre, Hurricanes
9. Handre Pollard – Fly Half, Bulls
10. Lima Sopoaga – Fly Half, Highlanders