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It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Well at least it was.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichich and the New England Patriots ground out a dour 13-3 victory over Sean McVay’s high flying Los Angeles Rams.
The big game got me thinking; if the NFL for some reason wanted a team made up of Super Rugby players to join the league next season, who would make the roster?
A deep dive into 2018 statistics and a full half hours work later, and I believe I’ve got the offence, defence and kickers to give the Pats a run for their money, or at least to be better than the Cardinals.
Here they are:
Quarterback: Beauden Barrett
A dual-threat playmaker here, not unlike this years MVP Pat Mahomes. An easy choice to get things started, the Hurricanes flyhalf is perfect to lead this team!
Running back: Aphiwe Dyanti
Fast, able to get in and out of his cuts and a strong frame and a viable option catching passes out of the backfield, World Rugby’s breakthrough star of 2018 will lineup as our running back!
Wide Receivers: Israel Folau, Ben Lam
A terrifying pairing on the flanks for our new expansion franchise. Israel Folau, a guy who could conceivably make this transition if he wanted to, adding a fourth football code to his career.
Wide receivers and controversy go hand in hand as well so that will suit Folau as well…Ben Lam, big and strong and able to get those all important yards after the contact. Expect the Hurricanes wing to be the one fighting for first downs when we need it most.
Tight End: Franco Mostert
Our second Lions representative, the versatile backrow forward is a surprise inclusion at tight end but Moster fits the bill perfectly. Tall, quick and able to carry the ball, this guys going to be getting plenty of work both blocking and in the passing game.
Slot Receiver: Ben Smith
Imagine Julie Edelman but with more speed!
Centre: Owen Franks
The captain of the offensive line, Franks’ experience, strength and athleticism makes him the obvious choice as our centre.
Left Tackle: Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
Beauden Barrett’s Blindside needs to be protected, so who better then his own Tighthead teammate, Jeffry Toomaga Allen. A big bruit, but athletic enough to handle the sack hungry pass rushers stateside.
Left Guard: Allan Alaalatoa
One of two Alaalatoa’s on the offensive line, Allan’s fast feet and power make him suitable for the guard position beside Franks.
Right Guard: Steven Kitshoff
Talk about power, Kitshoff has the sheer brutality to deal with the likes of Aaron Donald who’ll be trying to get to our QB.
Right Tackle: Michael Alaalatoa
Alaalatoa just doesn’t miss tackles, so he earns himself a spot anchoring our offensive line from the right.
Cornerbacks: Juan Imhoff, Rieko Ioane
Raw speed and height to defend those Mahomes bombs!
Safety: Dane Haylett-Petty
Intelligence, bravery and a defensive eye for space, the Rebels fullback will be a key cog in our defence.
Nickleback: Lukhanyoi Am
To deal with the nippy slot receivers in the NFL, the Sharks dynamite centre is a must have in our secondary.
Middle Linebacker: David Pocock
Leadership and physicality, David Pocock is the only option to captain this defence.
Right Outside Linebacker: Ardie Savea
A multi-tooled player in his day job, I like Savea in this role because he could be as effective rushing the passer as he could be in pass coverage.
Left Outside Linebacker: Kwagga Smith
The Lions backrower will go all day, mostly helping Pocock cover the middle of the field.
Left Defensive End: Malcolm Marx
Try and stop him. Marx is a nice option here because of his ability to drop into coverage and cover a zone.
Right Defensive End: Waisake Naholo
If I may say so myself, I love this pick. Imagine trying to contain Naholo with his blend of speed and size. Nightmare stuff for left tackles everywhere.
Defensive Tackle: Taniela Tupou
The nose tackle is a player who must be quick enough to get off the line and beat his man but also be big and strong enough to handle a double team. Tupou had to be included somewhere, this is probably his best fit.
Kicker: Hayden Parker
Statistically the best kicker in Super Rugby last year, Parker will have a big role to play in our team success.
Punter: Bernard Foley
Foleys isn’t an obvious choice for our punter but again, statistically, nobody compares to the Wallabies 10, having kicked the ball more times for more yards than anyone else in 2018, whilst remaining low on the error count.
Expecting plenty of feedback for this one. Who do you think should make the squad?