Monday 19 March 2018 / 11:50 AM


RYAN FRISBY took aim at Super Rugby’s most overhyped players earlier this season, but now he’s giving credit where it’s due and pinpointing the competition’s underrated brigade.

Brad Shields (Hurricanes)

One of the defending champs’ most consistent performers of the past few seasons. If Sheilds played for any other Tier 1 nation he would start in their loose forward trio. Exceptional for the Barbarians last year on their end of year tour, while he has an outstanding 88% tackle success rate this season. He is shaping to be a bolter for the All Blacks’ squad for next month’s Lions tour, especially after key injuries amongst New Zealand’s loose forward contingent. Plus he’s a good bugger off the paddock, spearheading a fundraising event for Red Cross.

Raymond Rhule (Cheetahs)

The Ghana native has been a revelation for the Cheetahs this year. He only stands at 5’11 and weighs 86kg but plays like 100kg-plus winger. In nine games this season he has beaten a defender 24 times with 14 line breaks and 15 offloads. He is still only 24 years old and shapes as a certain pick for the Springboks this year.

Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes)

The ’Canes’ back-up hooker continues to improve in the absence of captain and All Blacks star Dane Coles. His workrate around the field is phenomenal and is getting better with every start he gets. An excellent lineout thrower and aggressive on defence, Riccitelli’s 88% tackle success rate this season has also been a feature.

Matt Duffie (Blues)

The League convert’s only highlight before this season was acting as a speed bump for Nemani Nadolo. In 2017, however, he has been solid under the high ball and an elusive runner in broken play. In 10 games this season he has beaten 20 defenders and had 14 line breaks, with the lanky flyer one of the Blues’ best backs this season.

Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)

The Japanese International is probably the most underrated player on this list. His work-rate is the best I’ve seen. Mafi is fourth on the list for runs this season, averaging 12.9 a game, and 15th in tackles with 9.4 a game. The 27-year-old qualified to play for Japan after heading there for university in 2010 and then getting a contract to play for NTT Shining Arcs in 2014. That same year he made the Japanese national team, despite previously turning out for the for Tonga’s Under-20s team. One of the best buys of 2017, I would hate to think what the embattled Rebels would look like if Mafi wasn’t in the side.

[YouTube – The best of rugby players]

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About the author

Ryan Frisby

Sunshine Coast-based Ryan is proud product of Southland, NZ, and was unsurprisingly brought up on a steady diet of ruby union - which has led him to provide CBS with his forthright views on the 15-a-side code.

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