The battle for the All Black number 10 jumper has been well and truly alive throughout the 2019 Super Rugby campaign.
Fans, pundits and coaches alike have found their opinions split, Richie Mo’unga or Beauden Barrett? The Crusaders host the Hurricanes in the first of the 2019 Super Rugby in a semi-final which could set the record straight.
Barrett had a slow start, well for his lofty standards that is, but has since returned to scintillating form. Rugby fans have long had the pleasure of watching the two time World Rugby player of the year tear up defence after defence. Barrett is a master tactician with obscene pace, the traits he will need to put on show come Saturday’s game against a Christchurch-based side which has dominated the southern hemisphere once again.
Unlike Barrett, Mo’unga has been absolute class from round one underlining his influence with a 23 point haul in last weeks 38-14 romping of the Highlanders. The pivot has dominated defences serving up masterclass after masterclass, continually reminding All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his options at flyhalf.
Not many would bet against the Crusaders, as the well-oiled machine takes scalp after scalp in a ruthless manner. However, the Hurricanes finished with the second highest points tally in this year’s tournament and would surely be the team to dethrone the eight-time champions. Is this the final before the final?
Nonetheless, a place in the final could hinge on who dominates in the pivot role on Saturday. It is set up to a showdown which will undoubtedly go down in the history books. Rugby fans everywhere will be waiting in anticipation for one of the biggest matchups in rugby this year.
Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Jeff To’omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (captain), Toby Smith. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Kane Le’aupepe, Vaea Fifita, Richard Judd, James Marshall, Jonah Lowe.