With the myriad of highlights littered all over Super Rugby Aotearoa thus far, certain key positions (particularly fly-half and fullback) have revealed a wealth of depth which will have New All Black head coach Ian Foster licking his lips in anticipation for test matches to get underway once more.
However, the spoils bring with them a selection headache as well as there is little to choose between the brilliance of players such as Richie Mo’unga, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Will Jordan. We take a look at and compare the stats of the above players to see who, on paper, has the upper hand as things stand.
Richie Mo’unga has been in sublime form over the course of the competition and has flourished with new energy in every round. It is difficult to think that he could’ve made a stronger case for the All Balck number 10 jersey on his back.
Defenders beaten: 35
Clean breaks: 11
Metres gained: 380
Although at fullback for the lion’s share of the tournament, Barrett is still, technically, the incumbent All Black fly-half. He’s been his old self; nearly flawless kicking game, pin-point accurate passing, lightning pace and fruitful vision. His stats should be compared to those of his main rival for the All Black pivot role, Mo’unga, with the fact in mind that the former has spent most of the competition at the back.
Defenders beaten: 15
Clean breaks: 4
Metres gained: 267
The 1.96m tall, 96kg fullback has been a pillar of strength for the Hurricanes throughout the season. His reliable boot punishes any ill discipline from opposition while he has made a science of running lines, using his pace and accuracy to routinely rip defences apart.
Defenders beaten: 11
Clean breaks: 4
Metres gained: 140
Whether it be sything through the smallest of gaps or burning opposing backs around the outside, 22 year old Will Jordan has proved himself a revelation on attack and there can be little doubt that he will wear the black jersey soon. His ‘metres gained’ stat is enough to give an indication of his near unstoppable industry.
Defenders beaten: 36
Clean breaks: 13
Metres gained: 606
Mo'unga or Barrett?
Jordie or Jordan?
Mo'unga and Barrett?
How does one leave out Jordie and/or Jordan?
Such will be the questions circling around in Foster's head. While it may be an enviable problem to have, it remains a significant one for the All Black coaching staff and selectors to face. While all four players will surely turn out for the national side soon, mastering the right combinations and timings to get the best out of all of them will prove an interesting challenge.