Here are our three standout rookies from round six:
3 points: Connor Garden-Bachop (Highlanders)
Connor Garden-Bachop put the icing on the Highlanders record 33-12 win over the Crusaders with a well-taken try in the closing stages of the match. It topped off another superb performance by the fleet-footed 21-year-old who now looks to be the Highlanders first-choice fullback in the post-Ben Smith era.
2 points: Sam Darry (Blues)
Towering 20-year-old lock Sam Darry belied his inexperience with an accomplished performance against the Hurricanes in just his second Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa appearance. Darry was a workhorse on defence, racking up 12 tackles and never being far from the action at breakdown time. With captain Patrick Tuipulotu likely to return from injury following the bye, there’s no arguing that Darry is making the most of his limited opportunities on the field.
1 point: Kazuki Himeno (Highlanders)
No.8 Kazuki Himeno won’t forget his first start for the Highlanders in a hurry. Playing against the much-vaunted Crusaders, Himeno was a key figure as the Highlanders secured their biggest ever winning margin against their southern rivals. A player who tackles as hard as he runs, Himeno is a very handy addition to the Highlanders squad and will continue to push for a starting spot as the competition reaches the business end.
NOTE: The qualification for rookies is players that are either playing in their first season of Super Rugby or who are playing their first season as a contracted player and have played less than five games prior to 2021.
10 points: Connor Garden-Bachop (Highlanders)
5 points: Samipeni Finau (Chiefs), Sam Darry (Blues)
4 points: Luke Campbell (Hurricanes), Kazuki Himeno (Highlanders)
2 points: James Lay (Blues), Jack Regan (Highlanders), Adrian Choat (Blues)
1 point: Chay Fihaki (Crusaders), Josh Lord (Chiefs)