The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement

Super Rugby’s Top 50 players in 2024, 50-41: All Black legend returns and a new pairing begins in the West

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Editor
18th February, 2024
10
3591 Reads

How good is rugby? Truth is, it’s very good and few things are more enjoyable for rugby fans than debating the impact of great players.

This Super Rugby Pacific season, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will feature some of the strongest players from around the world, players who can make history for each of their respective clubs. 

To celebrate the return of the 29th season of the competition, The Roar will count down the 50 players who we think are set to have a significant impact this year, based on previous form, talent, the potential impact they can have on their team’s season, and more. 

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

Expect to see many surprise inclusions or omissions, as some players (such as the Force’s Izack Rodda) haven’t had the chance to make as much of an impact yet due to injury or selection. 

Agree or disagree with the list? Let us know in the comments who you think will have a big year in the Southern Hemisphere.

Now, without further ado, let’s begin: 

Julian Savea

Julian Savea (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Advertisement

50. Julian Savea – Moana Pasifika

Few players in Super Rugby history have had the impact ‘The Bus’ has had. 

A World Cup winner and a key part of the Hurricanes 2016 title-winning side, Julian Savea is set to give Moana some significant experience in the back three. He’s an absolute sledgehammer of an attack weapon that many sides will struggle to rein in. 

49. Ethan de Groot – Highlanders

One of the Highlanders’ most valuable local talents, Ethan de Groot has consistently shone during his time in Otago, especially when the rest of the forward pack has been shown up. 

His great form has been well rewarded with 22 caps for the All Blacks, and while many may see the Highlanders as the weakest side in Aotearoa, it’s important to remember how good their front row can be, especially with de Groot in the starting side.  

Advertisement

48. Nic White – Western Force

The Western Force will be welcoming a large number of exciting names as they look to earn a maiden finals berth in 2024, but probably none of them will be as seasoned a campaigner as the 66-capped Wallaby veteran, scrum-half Nic White.

White brings much-needed experience to the Force backline, which will see him prove invaluable to both their campaign and to the likes of exciting prospects coming through the ranks, such as Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle, Hamish Stewart and Harry Potter.

Ben Donaldson and Nic White during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Georgia. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

47. Ben Donaldson – Western Force

Advertisement

White will also be joined by another Wallaby, exciting utility back Ben Donaldson. While he has had spotty form in Wallaby gold, there is no denying the talent and weapons Donno possesses, both playing at flyhalf or fullback. 

Donaldson has also reached a point where he needs a new environment that can bring out the best in him in a consistent manner, and considering the weapon players growing in Simon Cron’s squad, there’s a lot to suggest the Force could prove a fruitful environment for him to thrive. 

: Lalakai Foketi poses during the Australian Wallabies player portrait session at Event Cinemas Coomera on June 23, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

46. Lalakai Foketi – NSW Waratahs

One of the most exciting players to emerge over the last few years in sky blue, you can argue that Lalakai Foketi is one of the few Australian players that came out of 2023 with his stocks firmly raised.

An effective distributor to the likes of weapons like Dylan Pietsch or Marky Mark, Foketi, alongside his running mate Izaia Perese, has emerged as a vital weapon for both the Wallabies and the Waratahs in the centres, with much of their go-forward in 2023 down to his skillset. 

45. Meli Derenalagi – Fijian Drua

Advertisement

The Drua grew in leaps and bounds last year, and one of the key reasons was the rapid improvement in their forward pack. The secret weapon for that pack was the team’s skipper, flanker Meli Derenalagi.

A former captain of the Fiji Sevens side and an Olympic gold medallist, there is good reason to suspect Derenalagi will only grow in influence in 2024; especially off the back of his efforts at last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies is tackled during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between the ACT Brumbies and the Western Force at GIO Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

44. Noah Lolesio – ACT Brumbies

The Noah Lolesio who takes the field for the Brumbies in 2024 will be a different one from the player of years past. Last year Lolesio was overlooked for the Wallabies, and even struggled for consistent game time at flyhalf with stiff competition from Jack Debreczeni.

A short stint with Toulon during the World Cup however has proved a fruitful learning experience for the talented youngster, and given his talent, there could be more of us asking the question ‘Carter Gordon?’ in 2024. 

Leigh Halfpenny  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Advertisement

43. Leigh Halfpenny – Crusaders

It is incredible to think that the Crusaders will be welcoming one of the most decorated names in Welsh rugby to Christchurch in 2024, with Halfpenny bringing over 100 international caps and over 200 first-class games of experience to the Crusaders backline. Yes, he may be out for most of the season, but his influence on the Crusaders will extend to much more than on-field performance.

The third-highest points scorer in Welsh history is an ideal pick for the Crusaders, as they look to expand their depth and experience in their backs and begin their transition into a new era without ‘Razor’ Robertson. 

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

42. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Melbourne Rebels

Following his departure from the Queensland Reds in 2022, LSL enjoyed a strong two-year stint at Northampton Saints, picking up 24 caps for his efforts. His return to Australian rugby comes at a perfect time for Melbourne, filling a huge Matt Phillip-sized hole in their squad. 

One of Australia’s most physical players, his inclusion in the Rebels side will address one of their key weaknesses exposed last year, depth in the engine room. He’ll be looking to prove a point or two and force his way into Joe Schmidt’s Wallabies side. 

Advertisement

41. Tyrel Lomax – Hurricanes

A front rower who has proven to be an absolute menace for any opposition facing the All Blacks, Australian-born Tyrel Lomax is really carving out a position for himself at the Hurricanes. 

Wellington has frequently been one of the few sides that look set to have the firepower to chase down the likes of the Crusaders and Chiefs. Coming off a huge 2023 that saw him make a World Cup final, this Hurricanes prop will be hungry to continue his purple streak. 

Check in tomorrow to see who we picked for 40-31.

close