Super Rugby Power Rankings: Crusaders dominate, Blues fall and Rebels shine in Australia

Week two has shown us that the Crusaders are as good as we think they are, the Lions are better than we think they are, and the Rebels might just be the unlikely favourites to win the Australian conference.

1 Crusaders (First in NZC)
Things were looking sweet for the Crusaders when George Bridge, a wing, stripped Siya Kolisi, a tough Stormers loosie. They won 45-28 and played about 55 minutes of good footy, not to mention losing the classy Richie Mo'unga to a broken jaw. It was far too good for the tourists, but they might need a few more minutes of quality to head off the Hurricanes in Wellington.

2 Lions (First in SAC)
Top of the log due to having played an extra match than the Kiwi teams. They put seven tries on the Bulls in Pretoria, so are proving that the exits of Faf de Klerk and Johan Ackermann have not been too draining. The Blues will be on high alert.

3 Rebels (First in AC)
Yes, we know they "only" beat the Sunwolves in round two, but 2017's worst team is making a solid case for early favouritism in the Australian conference. We will let you know more after they face the Brumbies on Friday in Melbourne.

4 Hurricanes (Second in NZC)
The Canes have jumped seven places on the power rankings, not because they played sublime rugby in the 34-9 win over the Jaguares, but for the very fact they won so well away from home without really getting out of second gear. They have much more to give, but will need to shore up their set-piece against the Crusaders.

5 Highlanders (Third in NZC)
The Highlanders have dropped two places, despite having the bye. But we tip them to knock over the Stormers in Dunedin to go 2-0.

6 Chiefs (Fourth in NZC)
The seriously depleted Chiefs had no right to win at Eden Park on Friday night, but they will enjoy the bye. Because it means they will regain some of their walking wounded and can plot the Bulls' demise without any further breakages or pulls.

7 Waratahs (Third in AC)
The Waratahs are moving on up, the power rankings and the log, to be precise. Their coach Daryl Gibson didn’t think they were much chop in Durban, but they salvaged a draw. Watch for improvement in Buenos Aires.

8 Stormers (Second in SAC)
Four tries in Christchurch is not to be sniffed at, but that contest was effectively over in the first half hour. However, there was enough to suggest the Stormers could challenge the Lions for the South African conference, especially when prop Steven Kitshoff used the luckless Richie Mo'unga as a hood ornament.

9 Bulls (Third in SAC)
There must be more to John Mitchell's Bulls than they showed in the 49-35 defeat to the Lions. But they now hit Australasia for three games, so the squeeze will go on.

10 Brumbies (Third in AC)
Too many errors, too many penalties and not enough accuracy off the tee in Brisbane. Those are the Brumbies' work-ons if they are to have any show of again topping the Australian conference.

11 Blues (Fifth in NZC)
The Blues will be singing the Blues as they contemplate the Lions this weekend. They have dominated large tracts of their two games, but somehow contrived to lose both. Losing captain Augie Pulu for the South African sojourn will test their depth, but the acid goes on the forwards to command the ball in the air and on the ground.

12 Reds (Fourth in AC)
Turns out there is a bit of starch, if not slickness, to Brad's boys, after all. They kicked six goals to two Brumbies' tries, but that win will be gold for the group. Another W versus the Bulls on Saturday will see the smiles return to Suncorp.

13 Sharks (Fourth in SAC)
There is talent aplenty in the Sharks' ranks, from Tendai "The Beast" Mtawarira to Lwazi Mvovo, but their over-reliance on the scrum cost them against the Waratahs. We need to see more breadth to their game.

14 Sunwolves (Fifth in AC)
They lost 37-17 to the Rebels in Tokyo, and now they are in South Africa desperate to bank some points. A long season looms unless they can learn to keep their opponents to under 25 points a game.

15 Jaguares (Fifth in SAC)
There's something not quite right about the Jaguares. They are big and physical and competitive in their familiar surrounds. But their attack looked listless against the Hurricanes and their lineout imploded.

Matt Todd of the Crusaders offloads in the tackle of Johnny Faauli of the Chiefs and Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs during the Crusaders V Chiefs, Super Rugby week 2, AMI Stadium,Christchurch, New Zealand, 24th Febuary 2018.Copyright photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
Matt Todd of the Crusaders offloads in the tackle of Johnny Faauli of the Chiefs and Shaun Stevenson during a Super Rugby match in Christchurch. Source: Photosport



'Mum and dad will be stoked' - Ioane brothers thrilled to re-sign with NZ Rugby

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has hailed the influence of older brother Akira, as the pair today recommitted to New Zealand Rugby for another four years.

Rieko, 21, and Akira, 23, both put pen to paper on new deals, deciding to remain within New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to media at Auckland Airport, Rieko spoke about the pair's decisions to stay at home in New Zealand.

"We've been lucky enough to play together for so long," he said.

"I'm pretty happy that both Aki and I are staying around home for a bit longer.

"I'm sure mum and dad will be stoked as well."

Both Rieko and Akira Ioane have penned new deals to stay in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS


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'He's only just beginning' – Steve Hansen gushes over Rieko Ioane's new deal

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that there's more to come from star winger Rieko Ioane, as the youngster put pen to paper on a new deal with New Zealand Rugby.

Since making his debut at the end of 2016, Ioane, 21, has been a standout for the All Blacks, displacing Julian Savea as the first-choice in the number 11 jersey.

Speaking to media ahead of his side's departure to Argentina, Hansen spoke of his delight at Ioane's commitment to the All Blacks.

"He's a special player and he's only at the beginning of his career," Hansen began.

"What he's done so far, with maturity and greater game understanding is just going to get better and better.

"He's only just beginning."

The winger has recommitted to New Zealand Rugby for another four years. Source: 1 NEWS


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Rieko Ioane on rejecting huge overseas deals to stay in NZ: 'The Black jersey is enough for me'

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has spoken about rejecting lucrative overseas deals to remain in New Zealand, recommitting to NZR with a new four-year deal.

Ioane, 21, and brother Akira signed on the dotted line to remain in New Zealand for the next four years, fronting media at Auckland Airport to explain his decision.

"I want to establish myself in New Zealand," he began.

"The black jersey is enough for me, and is enough to keep me here.

"Rugby is what I love playing, and to play in the best team in the world is motivating enough for me, overseas didn't come into the picture."

The All Blacks star penned a new four-year NZR deal this morning. Source: 1 NEWS


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Kieran Read out, Vaea Fifita recalled for All Blacks' trip to Argentina

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will miss his side's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Buenos Aires, with Wellington flanker Vaea Fifita called in as a replacement.

Read, 32, will be sent straight to South Africa, missing the All Blacks' Argentinian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign, coach Steve Hansen confirmed to media at Auckland Airport today.

"The original plan was always to make sure we don't have him sitting in a plane too long," Hansen began.

"When you go to Argentina then to South Africa, short turnaround, and not a great ride from Argentina to South Africa.

"The smart play is to leave him at home and send him straight to Africa."

Read's absence sees Vaea Fifita return to the side, having originally been overlooked for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign, with the Wellington flanker controversially stating that he didn't understand why he'd been dropped.

"He's always been on our mind," Hansen said of Fifita.

"We've given him the task of going and playing some Mitre 10 Cup, he's done that.

"With Reado not coming we need a replacement, he's the obvious man."

The All Blacks' newest weapon sat out of practice with a sore shoulder today. Source: 1 NEWS


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