Ahead of the opening weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby, SA Rugby magazine highlights the forwards to watch out of the New Zealand teams in 2020.
Hooker Codie Taylor should take on more responsibility now that a host of experienced Crusaders forwards have moved on. Contrary to popular belief, the Crusaders owe much of their success over the past three seasons to a multitalented pack of forwards. Few have matched the team at the scrum and lineouts and men like Taylor have been central to setting the platform for the backs to strike. A powerful ball-carrier and an influential player at
the breakdown, the hooker is the complete package, as evidenced by his frontline role with the All Blacks.
As one of the experienced players left in the squad, much will be expected from hooker Liam Coltman in terms of leadership. The 29-year-old will be entering his eighth Super Rugby season for the Highlanders, having made his debut for the team in 2013. Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Coltman has consistently proved himself as a powerful and abrasive hooker who enjoys playing with ball-in-hand. He is coming off an excellent 2019, when he was involved in the All Blacks’ World Cup squad, and will look to keep challenging for a starting place in the Test squad this year. Ash Dixon and young Ricky Jackson are the other hookers who will provide cover in the Landers squad.
Hooker Asafo Aumua had been groomed to take over as the Hurricanes’ first-choice hooker after Dane Coles. The two will play in tandem this season and there’s a sense that this could be the year Coles hands the baton to a player 10 years his junior. Aumua, who played twice for the All Blacks in 2017, could earn a recall to the national squad if he plays to his potential in Super Rugby this season.
The obvious candidates are Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson and Angus Ta’avao, who will be the spine of the Chiefs’ forward pack. But 2020 could be the year Dylan Nel announces himself on the big stage. The South Africa-born flank has been playing provincial rugby in New Zealand since 2017 after a chance encounter with Murray Mexted resulted in him moving abroad. The 27-year-old, who is being praised in New Zealand for his work ethic, commitment and skill, has yet to win a Super Rugby cap, but when he does make his debut, he will
be keen to make a lasting impact.
After the disappointment of missing out on a place in the New Zealand 2019 World Cup squad, Akira Ioane will be keen to make a good impression on the new All Blacks coach in 2020. It is no secret that Steve Hansen took issue with Ioane’s fitness and professionalism, which were underlined as the key reasons the No 8 has yet to make his Test debut. At only 24, Ioane will look to make big strides in his development in 2020 and change his status as New Zealand rugby’s problem child.