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Super Rugby’s top 50 players, 40-31: Jorgo's rapid rise, All Blacks 'cool head' returns

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19th February, 2024
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Super Rugby is set for a serious shake-up in 2024 with new coaches and players, and as the season progresses, many of the players lower in the list will be expected to step up for their respective clubs. 

We continue our countdown on the 50 players 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.

>>Check out our list of players from 50-41

Without further ado, here are 40 to 31:

40. Tupou Vai’i  – Chiefs

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A two-metre-tall, 118kg monster of a lock, Tupou Vai’i looks set for much bigger things, and it starts this year. Having earned 18 international caps during the era of Ian Foster, he also was the first player born in the 21st century to represent New Zealand in international rugby.

Truth be told, he’s a very young talent, and over the last few years has made himself indispensable in what has become a dangerous Chiefs side. This year will see him push himself further, both for that elusive Super Rugby title and for further All Black honours. 

39. Max Jorgensen – NSW Waratahs

The surprise find of the Waratahs in 2023, this dynamic 19-year-old made an immediate impact in the back three during the opening match against the Brumbies, scoring a double. He went to earn an impressive 11 caps in sky blue, an outstanding effort given he was originally expected to play very little rugby that season. 

While injury forced him out of achieving higher honours (including participating in the World Cup), a full season under his belt will likely see him emerge as one of Darren Coleman’s most vital attacking weapons, and a veritable Wallaby-in-waiting.

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

Max Jorgensen(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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38. Asafo Aumua – Hurricanes

Some may consider Asafo Aumua to be lower on this list than he should be, and that gives you a good indication as to how much exciting talent there is in the competition this year. Truth be told though, this six-capped All Black is primed for a massive year.

A powerhouse for the Canes, with Dane Coles now finished up, he’ll be set to get a lot more exposure in the starting line up, which will enable fans to see how good a player he really is. 

Luke Jacobson (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

37. Luke Jacobson – Chiefs

Luke Jacobson is going to have a big year in 2024. Initially bursting onto the scene in 2019, injuries and concussions have hampered his growth in a veteran player, especially in 2023 when he was eclipsed by the likes of Shannon Frizell.

However, with Frizell now in Japan and a positive year playing for Waikato in the NPC, Jacobson has everything in front of him to make the flanker position his own at the Tron this year.

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Andrew Kellaway (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

36. Andrew Kellaway – Melbourne Rebels

Andrew Kellaway will be desperate for a good year at the Stockade. Having struggled to complete a full season since his arrival in 2020, it feels like Melbourne is still to see the best ‘The Fire’ can offer.

Truth be told, his form at Wallaby level has been extremely positive, and should he string together a solid run of games, the writing is on the wall for him to play a major part in Melbourne’s push for a maiden finals berth before he heads to the Waratahs. 

Dalton Papali’i of New Zealand during the New Zealand Training Sessions at Cardiff International Sports Campus on November 03, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

Dalton Papali’i (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

35. Dalton Papalii  – Blues

He may have lost the Blues’ captaincy earlier this year to Tuipulotu, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Dalton Papalii has lost his touch. 

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The flanker impressed at the Rugby World Cup, and will be hungry to regain his dominance at the Blues, as well to make his way off the reserve bench and into the starting lineup for the All Blacks. 

Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs makes a break during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at FMG Stadium Waikato on March 26, 2022 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Shaun Stevenson. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

34. Shaun Stevenson – Chiefs

This exciting outside back enjoyed a strong 2023, earning 15 starts for Waikato and making a strong transition off the bench into a regular starter. His efforts were also rewarded with his first All Black cap, coming off the bench in New Zealand’s come-from-behind win over the Wallabies in Dunedin.

With the Chiefs saying goodbye to several starting players in 2023, this year bodes well for Stevenson to once again push for higher honours. 

33. Ryan Crotty – Crusaders

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A lot of the success at the start of the Crusaders’ ridiculous run of titles has come in no small part due to the cool head and vast experience of Ryan Crotty. While likely not to be selected as much as the youthful other centre options, it’s fair to say that we’ll expect to see a lot of him in 2024, especially as he helps establish the next generation of Canterbury’s best.

His form at Super and international has continued for the last few years in Japan, so expect him to slot right back into place in Christchurch.

Harry Wilson of the Reds breaks through the defence

Harry Wilson.(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

32. Harry Wilson – Queensland Reds

A stalwart of Brad Thorn’s Reds, Harry Wilson has amassed a near 60 caps playing at Super Rugby level before the age of 25, and it’s easy to see why. His mongrel effort and determination left a strong impression on many, with 12 caps picked up at Wallaby level.

Come the end of the year though, we expect to see his stocks rise significantly. Les Kiss has a knack for fostering new talent and getting them to the next level, and Wilson could unleash a statement season that locks him down in the Wallabies, for good.   

Folau Fakatava of the Highlanders reacts during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Folau Fakatava (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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31. Folau Fakatava – Highlanders

The Highlanders often struggled to attain go-forward and momentum in 2023, which goes to show how incredible Fakatava’s performances were. Even when the forwards weren’t progressing, he found ways to attain ascendency and grab key moments which led to victory. Even more notably, these were in games the Highlanders were often not looking like winning.

Coming back off an ACL injury, he’ll be desperate to restart his case for All Black selection, following his debut in the Ireland series in 2022. 

Check in on Monday to see who we picked for 30-21.

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