Team of the decade: Boks are best travellers
SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand may have dominated Super Rugby for the last decade, but South African forwards proved to be the best ‘travellers’.
SANZAAR has punched the numbers and select a Team of the Decade – based on away performances.
New Zealand teams have won seven of the 10 titles since 2001, with their backs providing the bulk of the Away Team of the Decade.
There are eight Kiwis in the teams, six of them among the backs.
The picture looks very different among the forwards.
South Africa, despite having only one title in that period, provides four players – three of them among the forwards.
And all three were key players in the South African pack that dominated England in the World Cup Final (winning 32-12) in Yokohama last November.
That confirms the suggestion that South African forwards generally travel well.
The pack includes two current Springbok World Cup-winning front row forwards in Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff and Lions hooker Malcolm Marx – who between them made 506 tackles.
The mighty Marx gained an average of 23 metres per game in that stretch – the most of any tight forward to play at least 20 away games in that period.
The lock pairing is Rudolph Snyman (Bulls) and Brodie Retallick (Chiefs).
They won 301 line-outs between them. Snyman made 162 carries from his 25 appearances, while Retallick crossed for eight tries, made 487 tackles, and 336 carries from 53 games on the road.
The fourth Springbok is aggressive Bulls centre Jan Serfontein – who made 10+ carries and 10+ tackles in a game from inside centre on five occasions.
Team of the decade – away form:
15 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs)
Has scored 20+ points in an away game on seven occasions in Super Rugby since debuting in 2015 – more than any other player – and he has been directly involved in 24 tries in his last 18 games away from home in the competition (10 tries, 14 try assists).
14 James Lowe (Chiefs)
Scored 13 tries in 28 games away from home, as well as making 48 clean breaks and 38 offloads – he also gained the most metres per game (76) of any wing to play at least 20 games on the road.
13 Charles Piutau (Blues)
Gained an average of 79 metres per game away from home in the last decade of Super Rugby – the second-most of any player (min. 10 games in that stretch.
12 Jan Serfontein (Bulls)
He’s made 10+ carries and 10+ tackles in a game from inside centre on five occasions, the second-most of any player in the last decade of Super Rugby (Kyle Godwin – 7).
11 Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)
No Crusaders player has scored multiple tries in an away game more times in the last decade than Nadolo (three); his hat-trick against the Cheetahs in Round 9, 2014 is unbeaten by Crusaders players in such fixtures.
10 Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
He’s scored 9.5 points per game away from home in the last decade of Super Rugby, the most of any of the 71 players to have played at least 50 games in that time.
9 Thomas Perenara (Hurricanes)
He’s scored 30 tries away from home in Super Rugby – only one player has scored more in the last decade (Israel Folau – 31); he’s also made 48 clean breaks, and 56 offloads in that span.
8 Amanaki Mafi (Rebels/Sunwolves)
Mafi is the only forward to have made 20+ carries in an away game on multiple occasions in the last decade of Super Rugby; he’s done so three times.
7 Luke Braid (Blues)
Braid has made 329 carries and 350 tackles in his 36 games away from home in Super Rugby in the last 10 years, as well as having made 45 offloads and winning 40 turnovers.
6 Sean McMahon (Rebels)
McMahon has beaten an average of 3.6 defenders per game away from home in the last decade of Super Rugby – the most of any forward to have played at least 10 away games in that span.
5 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
He’s won 182 line-outs (including steals) in the last decade of Super Rugby when playing away from home, as well as crossing for eight tries, making 487 tackles, and 336 carries from 53 games on the road.
4 Rudolph Snyman (Bulls)
He’s won 119 line-outs (including steals), made 43 offloads, and made 162 carries from his 25 appearances away from home in the last decade of Super Rugby.
3 Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)
He’s made 10+ tackles in six of his last seven Super Rugby games played away from home including a tally of 17 against the Stormers in Round 10, 2019.
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Made 202 carries from his 29 games away from home, gaining an average of 23 metres per game in that stretch – the most of any tight-five forward to play at least 20 away games in that period.
1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
Has made 304 tackles, won 15 turnovers, and made 22 carries from his 47 games away from home in the last decade of Super Rugby.