Paul Cully March 06, 2012
Future All Black? Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes. Photo: AFP
The five players, in no particular order, from New Zealand and South Africa that made us sit up and take notice last weekend.
Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes). We knew he was good, we didn't know he was this good. His weighted kick through to Cory Jane for a crucial try against the Lions was pretty close to perfection. He has enough pace to play at fullback, but enough time to ooze control at No.10. Age dictates his form will suffer at some point behind this Canes pack, but this is a future All Black.
Jacques Potgieter (Bulls). Straight from central casting if you are looking for the next South African forward to dislike, complete with villainous black locks. This blindside can play too – hard. Yellow carded for use of the shoulder against Heinrich Brussow at the weekend. We can't wait until he is introduced to Sonny Bill Williams.
Nick Croswell (Highlanders). The Bouncers used to be a Wellington-based summary-justice trio led by Jerry Collins, so it is fitting that the Highlanders, with their strong Wellington influence, are keeping the concept going in Dunedin. Croswell, a hard-running blindside playing second row, is one of the blokes responsible for that, alongside Nasi Manu and Josh Bekhuis. Just wait until Jarrad Hoeata gets back.
Eben Etzebeth (Stormers). The word out of Cape Town is that they've finally got a forward pack to match their back line. It might even be better than their back division. This young second-rower has something to do with that. Confrontational, athletic and under the sizeable wing of Andries Bekker, Etzebeth was normally found to be in the thick of it when things got tasty against the Sharks.
Hosea Gear (Highlanders). For some instant rugby gratification, prompt your search engine with words “Hosea Gear and Tom Marshall”. With the World Cup safely in the locker, All Blacks fans will be hoping that room on the wing can be again found for the type that can run over people, as well as solid characters under the high ball.