Ranking New Zealand Super Rugby Club’s Top 10 Players of All Time
Super Rugby is a professional rugby union competition that features teams from South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and New Zealand. The New Zealand teams have a rich history of producing some of the world’s best rugby players. In this article, we will look at each New Zealand Super Rugby club’s top 10 players of all time, starting with number 10.
10. Sir John Kirwan (Blues)
Sir John Kirwan is a celebrated figure in New Zealand rugby, having significantly impacted domestic and international. He played for Marist Brothers Old Boys RFC and Auckland domestically, earning 142 caps with the latter during their dominant era in the NPC and Ranfurly Shield. Kirwan also played for Benetton Treviso in Italy from 1985 to 1989, where he won the Italian championship in 1989.
Kirwan played a pivotal role in the All Blacks’ 23-test unbeaten run from 1987 to 1990, which included their victory in the 1987 Rugby World Cup. He scored 35 test tries and a total of 67 tries in all appearances with the All Blacks, which is still a national record. In 1986, Kirwan was one of only two All Blacks and David Kirk, who did not join the “rebel” New Zealand Cavaliers team that travelled to South Africa during the apartheid era. As a result, he and Kirk were not barred from playing with the All Blacks after the tour.
Kirwan also briefly played rugby league, signing with the Auckland Warriors in 1995 for the ARL season, where he was the team’s top try scorer in the 1996 season. After his time with rugby league, he finished his rugby union career with NEC in Japan from 1997 to 1999.
9. Ben Smith (Highlanders)
Ben Smith was a highly versatile player for the Highlanders in New Zealand. He began his Super Rugby career in 2009 as a member of the Highlanders squad. In his debut season, Smith played mainly on the wing and made two tries. The following year, he started in every game and played one match at fullback while Dagg was out injured. Smith earned praise from his coach and was in consideration for an All Blacks call-up.
For the next few seasons, Smith continued to play as the Highlanders’ fullback. In 2013, he was selected to represent the All Blacks on the wing against France. His performance earned him the Super Rugby Player of the Year award for the 2013 season.
8. Richie McCaw (Crusaders)
One of the most exceptional rugby players of all time is Richie McCaw, who played for the Crusaders for 14 years from 2001 to 2015, and during his tenure, he helped the team to win seven Super Rugby titles. Furthermore, he led the All Blacks to two Rugby World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015, thanks to his exceptional leadership skills, fearless play, and ability to win turnovers. Additionally, McCaw was the recipient of the World Rugby Player of the Year award three times, in 2006, 2009, and 2010, which recognizes the most excellent player in the world.
7. Tana Umaga (Hurricanes)
Tana Umaga is one of the most iconic players in the Hurricanes’ history. He played for the Wellington-based team from 1996 to 2007, and during his time with the club, he scored 37 tries in 74 appearances. Umaga also played in two Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks, in 1999 and 2003.
Umaga’s powerful running and ability to break tackles made him a feared centre. He was also known for his leadership skills and work off the field, particularly in mental health. Umaga was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006 for his services to rugby and the community.
6. Carlos Spencer (Blues)
Carlos Spencer is one of the most exciting players in Super Rugby history. He played for the Blues from 1996 to 2005, and during his time with the club, he scored 491 points, including 36 tries. Spencer also played in two Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks, in 1999 and 2003.
Spencer’s creative play and ability to produce moments of magic on the field made him a fan favourite. He was known for his skilful kicking, passing, and running, and his flair and individuality set him apart from other players. Spencer was also a key member of the Blues team that won three Super Rugby titles in a row, from 1996 to 1998.
5. Andrew Mehrtens (Crusaders)
Andrew Mehrtens is one of the greatest fly-halves in New Zealand rugby history. He played for the Crusaders from 1996 to 2005, and during his time with the club, he scored 990 points, including 29 tries. Mehrtens also played in three Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks, in 1995, 1999, and 2003.
Mehrtens’ accurate kicking, tactical awareness, and his ability to read the game made him a standout player. He was also known for his composure under pressure and played a key role in the Crusaders’ four Super Rugby titles between 1998 and 2002.
4. Christian Cullen (Hurricanes)
Christian Cullen is one of the most exciting fullbacks in rugby history. He played for the Hurricanes from 1996 to 2003, and during his time with the club, he scored 56 tries in 85 appearances. Cullen also played in two Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks, in 1999 and 2003.
Cullen’s speed, agility, and ability to score from anywhere on the field made him a fan favourite. He was also known for his strength under the high ball and his ability to create space for his teammates. Cullen was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2019.
3. Dan Carter (Crusaders)
Dan Carter is widely regarded as one of the greatest fly-halves in rugby history. He played for the Crusaders from 2003 to 2015, and during his time with the club, he scored 1,708 points, including 29 tries. Carter also played in three Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks, winning the tournament in 2011 and 2015.
Carter’s accuracy with the boot, his creativity, and his ability to read the game made him a standout player. He was also known for his composure under pressure and his ability to deliver in big matches. Carter was named the World Rugby Player of the Year three times, in 2005, 2012, and 2015.
2. Jonah Lomu (Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes)
Jonah Lomu is one of the most iconic players in rugby history. He played for three New Zealand Super Rugby teams, including the Blues, Chiefs, and Hurricanes. Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 Super Rugby appearances and played in two Rugby World Cups for the All Blacks in 1995 and 1999.
Lomu’s size, speed, and power made him a dominant force on the field. He was known for his ability to run over defenders and his incredible try-scoring ability. Lomu passed away in 2015 at 40 and is remembered as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
1. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)
Richie Mo’unga is the current superstar of New Zealand rugby. He has played for the Crusaders since 2016, and during his time with the club, he has won four Super Rugby titles. Mo’unga also played a key role in the All Blacks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign, helping his team reach the semi-finals.
Mo’unga’s creativity, ability to run the ball, and accurate kicking have made him one of the most exciting players in rugby today. He was named the Super Rugby Player of the Year for the past two seasons and the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2020.
Mo’unga’s performances for the Crusaders have been nothing short of outstanding. He scored 46 tries and 895 points for the team, including a remarkable 33-point haul in the 2019 Super Rugby final. Mo’unga’s ability to control the game and deliver under pressure have made him the best player in New Zealand Super Rugby history.
While the top 10 list is dominated by players from the Crusaders, Blues, and Hurricanes, many other outstanding players have been in New Zealand Super Rugby history. Some notable mentions include:
Zinzan Brooke (Blues): One of the greatest number 8s in rugby history, Brooke played for the Blues from 1996 to 1997 and was a key team member that won three Super Rugby titles in a row.
Tana Umaga (Hurricanes): A dynamic centre and former All Blacks captain, Umaga played for the Hurricanes from 1996 to 2007 and led the team to their first Super Rugby final in 2006.
Justin Marshall (Crusaders): A scrum-half with a brilliant tactical mind, Marshall played for the Crusaders from 1996 to 2005 and was a key team member that won four Super Rugby titles.
New Zealand Super Rugby has been home to some of the greatest players in rugby history. From Jonah Lomu to Richie Mo’unga, these players have captivated fans worldwide with their skill, flair, and commitment to the game.
While it’s always difficult to rank players across different eras, the top 10 list provides a glimpse into the rich history of New Zealand Super Rugby and the exceptional talent that has graced its fields over the years.
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