Updated: Feb 25, 2021
The All Black’s community are extremely excited as preparations for the start of Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 are underway. Following last year, the main five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises will contest for the Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 title. The Super Rugby Aotearoa season will see each team play a total of eight competitive fixtures against their rivals, as the teams will play both four home, and four away fixtures. The prestigious Super Rugby Aotearoa Final will see the top two sides contest for the crown; with the table-topping franchise hosting the final on the 8th May 2021.
Super Rugby Aotearoa 2020 Results:
The inauguration of Super Rugby Aotearoa began last year, when the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby 2020 tournament became non-void, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. In what disheartened the whole rugby world, saw the opportunity for New Zealand Rugby to optimize a local yet fierce rugby tournament. With the pandemic statistics largely subsided in New Zealand, by June 2020 a brand-new rugby tournament kicked off with the top franchises contesting for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.
The tournament brought plenty of excitement as the best players in New Zealand were eager to get back on the field. With national selection at stake, great camaraderie followed. After 10 rounds of exciting running rugby, The Crusaders were crowned Super Rugby Aotearoa champions and another prestigious rugby trophy was added to Coach Scott Robertson’s cabinet.
Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 Players To Watch:
Will Jordan: Naturally, one of the greatest breakthrough players of last season is going to be one to watch this season. Jordan had his best season to date last year for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby Aotearoa 2020 tournament. His impressive form saw the young utility backline player earn his first international cap for New Zealand. Will Jordan’s sublime form saw him top the table as the most tries scored, along with most defenders beaten and running the most metres for the maiden Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
Can Will Jordan be the best backline player in Super Rugby Aotearoa for two consecutive tournaments?
Caleb Clarke: The young, twenty-one year old was also a stand-out player last rugby season. Clarke was outstanding in his Super Rugby Aotearoa efforts and was awarded a cap for the All Blacks in 2020. Looking to keep his strong form going, Caleb Clarke is by far one of the most exciting young wingers to watch this Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 season.
Will Caleb Clarke cement his position for the All Blacks this year?
Ardie Savea: The newly appointed Hurricanes Captain will no doubt be excited to get back on the rugby field, as due to knee surgery, Savea spent the majority of the 2020 season out. Savea is always one to watch and has been a continuously outstanding loose-forward who leads from the front. With his recent leadership role, this year could be extra special for Savea and his Captaincy reign.
Will the former World Rugby Player of the Year nominee lead the Hurricanes to a Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 title?
Aaron Smith: The Highlanders Co-Captain, Aaron Smith will be looking to bring back the glory to his Otago family. Smith has been an outstanding ambassador for All Blacks Rugby and is the most capped scrumhalf in New Zealand Rugby history. Aaron brings plenty of experience to his team-mates, and will definitely be an asset behind the scrum this Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 season.
Can Aaron Smith uplift the team morale at The Highlanders this season?
Damian McKenzie: The exciting elusive outside back, Damian McKenzie will play a huge role in revitalizing the Chiefs outfit. Following the Super Rugby Aotearoa inauguration last season, The Chiefs failed to register a single victory in the tournament. However, the eagerness from All Blacks fullback, McKenzie never dropped and he continued to inspire his teammates during their challenging campaign.
Can Damian McKenzie’s indestructible form uplift The Chiefs this Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 campaign?
Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 Round One Fixtures:
Friday 26th February: Highlanders v Crusaders Forsyth Barr Stadium, Otago
Saturday 27th February: Hurricanes v Blues Sky Stadium, Wellington
Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 Weekend Line Ups:
Highlanders: 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Connor Garden-Bachop, 13 Ngatungane Punivai, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Regan, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Hugh Renton
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Luke Campbell, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 James Lay.
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Tanielu Tele’a.
Super Rugby Aotearoa Writer’s Predictions:
We’re all set and excited to witness the return of Super Rugby Aotearoa this coming weekend. With the star New Zealand players expecting to make a statement, there are also the young guns who are seeking to cement their positions, as the future of All Blacks rugby.
With that being said, here are my writer’s predictions for this weekend’s Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 Round 1:
Highlanders v Crusaders: In this instance, both sides have great experience in key positions for this game. However, the Crusaders have been the dominant force in Super Rugby for the past four seasons. The game has the potential to go either way, as it’s never an easy trip to Otago. Scott Robertson’s Crusaders should have the grit to overcome their rivals, and I’ll say The Crusaders will win by 10 points!
Hurricanes v Blues: Last season’s runners-up, the Blues, will be looking to make up for their disappointment of just missing out on the title. Yet, the Blues have found a brand of rugby that relives those fond 2003 Super Rugby victory memories. As we all know, Super Rugby Aotearoa offers no easy fixtures and the Hurricanes hold their fort when playing in Wellington. I will back the home side for this fixture and predict the Hurricanes to win with a narrow 5 points!
Which team are you backing for the Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 season?