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Super Rugby's top 50 players in 2024, 20-11: All Blacks next generation shines through

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21st February, 2024
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Super Rugby Pacific has been dominated by the Kiwis so far for a reason: incredibly strong depth. It’s the obstacle that the Australian and Pacific sides need to tackle if they want to mount a serious title challenge, both in terms of player form and in terms of player development pathways.

We continue our countdown of the the 50 best players set to have a significant impact this year, based on previous form, talent and the potential impact they can have on their team’s season.

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

>>Check out our list of players from 40-31

>>Check out our list of players from 30-21

Without further ado, here are 20 to 11:

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

20. Tate McDermott – Queensland Reds

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Along with Fraser McReight and Jordan Petaia, Tate McDermott is set for a critical season at the Reds. Over the last few years he’s increasingly impressed at both Super Rugby and Wallaby level, serving as a reliable starting or understudy scrumhalf with an uncanny knack to get go-forward and snipe effectively around the ruck.

There is a reason why he has been retained as Reds co-captain, and it is clear from his leadership skillset that Les Kiss views him as a critical cog in Queensland’s title credentials. He also captained Australia briefly under Eddie Jones.

Mark Telea (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

19. Mark Telea – Blues

Scoring a monster 12 tries last year, Mark Telea replicated the success later at the Rugby World Cup, including scoring a double in the opening match against France.

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A shoo-in for the Blues starting XV, he looms as one of their most dangerous attacking weapons and one of the best finishers in the competition.

Codie Taylor of the Crusaders runs towards the try line

Codie Taylor. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

18. Codie Taylor – Crusaders

Sharing the record with Telea with 12 tries last season, Codie Taylor is a formidable veteran at the head of a dangerous Crusaders pack. Despite their dominance, the clinical nature of the Crusaders’ forward pack can sometimes go underappreciated compared to the running rugby their backs put on, and with Taylor in the ranks since 2015 it’s no wonder they’ve been able to set such a strong platform.

He’s earned 129 Super Rugby caps and 85 international caps for a reason. Second to one other hooker higher in the list, he looms as one of the All Blacks’ strongest competitors. 

17. Salesi Rayasi – Hurricanes

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It was a shame that Salesi Rayasi endured such mixed form in 2023, being kept out of the Hurricanes’ side due to injury for much of the year. While he hasn’t yet excelled at an international level, with only seven All Black caps, he is one of Super Rugby’s strongest attacking weapons.

An effective kicker, dangerous in broken play and a strong finisher, the decision to re-sign him for two years is a strong indication of his potential as an attacking weapon. Once he gets back on the park, expect him to make an impression quickly.

Ethan Blackadder

Crusaders flanker Ethan Blackadder is tackled during the Round 16 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at Waikato Stadium on June 2, 2018 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

16. Ethan Blackadder – Crusaders

After a strong year in Super Rugby that saw the Crusaders retain their title, Blackadder was called into the All Blacks squad for the World Cup as an injury cover. While he only featured in one Test, Blackadder looms as one of the All Blacks most exciting prospects coming through the ranks, and certainly has already established himself in the Crusaders line up.

This will be a year of significant growth for the talented loose forward, with spots now wide open and a chance to impress his former coach, Scott Robertson. Expect to see him in black a lot more this year.

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

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15. Sevu Reece – Crusaders

The fastest player ever to reach 40 tries in Super Rugby, Sevu Reece, in partnership with former Crusader Leicester Fainga’anuku, was a major reason behind their team’s insane ability to score tries. A ruthless finisher, Reece is still no less of a threat out on the wings for Canterbury, and many backlines will have their work cut out just trying to shut him down.

With the likes of Mark Telea and Will Jordan keeping him from returning to the All Black line up, Reece will be hoping to push his case to return to the national side – but he has a lot of competition. 

Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs celebrates

Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

14. Anton Lienert-Brown – Chiefs

An already established member of the All Blacks’ starting 23, Anton Lienert-Brown will be hoping to kick-start a stronger season in Waikato. Walking into their starting side with the likes of Lalomilo Lalomilo and Alex Nankivell departing the team, 2023 felt like like Lienert-Brown was still finding his feet again after an injury-ridden 2022 season.

With game time now under the belt, ALB will be perfectly primed for a strong year as Waikato look to go one better, and will plenty on the line to play for with positions in the All Blacks starting XV open.

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Narawa of the Chiefs takes on the defence during the round five Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Chiefs at Allianz Stadium, on March 24, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

13. Emoni Narawa – Chiefs

An absolute weapon. Scoring eight tries in the 2023 season, this flying Fijian went on to earn his first cap for the All Blacks, as they demolished Los Pumas in Mendoza to kick off their Rugby Championship campaign. 

There is a lot of opportunity for Emoni to excel in the back three for Waikato in 2024, and he looms as probably the most exciting bolter of the whole competition. Get ready to hear a lot more about this exciting 24-year-old.

Cameron Roigard of the Hurricanes

Cameron Roigard with the Hurricanes. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

12. Cam Roigard – Hurricanes

One of the standout All Blacks of 2023, Roigard is looming as the perfect successor to Aaron Smith in Scott Robertson’s starting side. Scoring nine tries last year, he’ll be in stiff competition with teammate TJ Perenara for starting caps in both Wellington and the national side. 

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A versatile sniping player and ideal at turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds, Roigard’s form will play a major role in determining if the Hurricanes can close the gap on the Chiefs and Crusaders, and challenge for their second title.

Jordie Barrett of the Hurricanes talks to his teammates

NZ franchises are continuing the Super Rugby season on their own. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

11. Jordie Barrett – Hurricanes

Of equal importance to the Hurricanes is the performance of their star centre, Jordie Barrett. One of the high achievers in the 2023 grand finalists alongside his two brothers, Jordie will be in direct competition with the likes of Reiko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili and more for the starting All Black centres role.

As the Barrett brothers have proven time and time again, it is hard to keep any of them down (especially when playing together). With Scott Barrett also captaining the Crusaders, Jordie will also be desperate to get his hands on a Super Rugby title.

Tune in tomorrow to see who we picked for 10-1.

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