Five Youngsters To Watch During Super Rugby Aotearoa - Forwards

Five Youngsters To Watch During Super Rugby Aotearoa - Forwards

The countdown to Super Rugby Aotearoa is on as we await the first rugby to hit our screens since the global pandemic stalled rugby competitions worldwide.

With the Aotearoa (New Zeland) version set to kick off on 13 June, we take a look at five youngsters in each of the five New Zealand franchises who will be great value during the 10 rounds of action.

Marino Mikaele Tu'u - Highlanders

A powerful back-rower, Marino Mikaele Tu'u has seamlessly replaced Luke Whitelock as the Highlanders go to no.8.

He started all of the Highlanders Super Rugby matches before the season was brought to a halt and impressed with ball in hand and on defence.

A former New Zealand Schools and national under-20 representative, he has come through the ranks and is a real prospect for the future.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi - Chiefs

A powerful second-rower who has enjoyed a fine start to his rookie Super Rugby season. 

Ah Kuoi signed for the Chiefs ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby after impressing for Wellington and the New Zealand u20s last year.

Warren Gatland has quite an experienced forwards roster at his disposal with the likes of Atu Moli, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier and others in their mid-20s but the 20-year-old Ah Kuoi has impressed off the bench and could push for a few starts during Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Du'Plessis Kirifi - Hurricanes

The Hurricanes have their fair share of young and upcoming forwards in their ranks.

Du'Plessis Kirifi is the same age as hooker Asafo Aumua while the likes of Isaia Walker-Leawere and Devon Flanders also have bright futures.

However, we have picked out Kirifi with the openside flanker quickly becoming one of the side's standout performers.

Named after former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis, Kirifi has shown abilities similar to Ardie Savea with an excellent running game and is a hard hitting defender with excellent breakdown work.

Tom Christie - Crusaders

Normally a side would struggle to replace a veteran openside flanker like Matt Todd but the Crusaders are not your normal club with the side plucking out youngster Tom Christie from Canterbury.

A former New Zealand u20s captain, Christie has delivered on his early promise for the Crusaders and was Super Rugby's top tackler with 100 tackles in his first six games for the side missing just three and won 7 turnovers.

At 22, he certainly has a bright future ahead of him. The Crusaders have numerous other young forwards to look out for with Sione Havili and Cullen Grace both bright prospects in the back row.

Hoskins Sotutu - Blues

Yet another back-rower but Hoskins Sotutu rightfully earned his place on this list.

A 21-year-old no.8, Sotutu has replaced Akira Ioane as the Blues' go to man in the #8 jersey. 

Sotutu is another powerful ball carrier and has already been tipped for higher honours with the All Blacks after just seven Super Rugby caps.

Again, he isn't the only exciting youngster in the Blues pack with Dalton Papali'i, Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Jacob Pierce all showing potential. 

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