Opinion: Super Rugby round 14: five things we learned

Richie Mo'unga
Richie Mo'unga with the ball against the Rebels (Photosport)

OPINION: Having four out of the five teams with the most number of points in the competition, the New Zealand conference now faces the unique situation of having a team miss out on the finals purely because of the competition structure.

But with the Chiefs disappointing in Auckland and the Hurricanes impressing in Pretoria, the picture of the competition is getting a little clearer.

Here are five things we learned from the weekend of Super Rugby:

1. The Chiefs don't have what it takes to win the competition 

The Chiefs have been flying this year, but a potentially-season defining draw to the Blues on Friday shows they don't have what it takes to win the competition. 

Sam Cane
A frustrated Sam Cane (Getty)

Good teams find ways to win those close matches, and when you consider that if they do eventually make the finals they could come up against the Brumbies in Canberra, it's a contest that could well play out similarly to the one in Auckland.

2. Richie Mo'unga is ready to be an All Black, now if needed

Named in the All Blacks form XV last week, Richie Mo'unga has gone from strength to strength, and it continued with another very good performance against the Rebels.

While he's behind a very dominant forward pack, it's his decision-making that's come on in leaps and bounds this year.

With Aaron Cruden heading overseas, he should be a lock for the end of season tour, and he wouldn't look out of place if, for any reason, he got a call up for the Lions series.

3. Steven Luatua's departure could haunt NZ Rugby

Oh how things in change in a few months...

Steven Luatua's rugby career in New Zealand looked dead in the water when he signed to go play for Bristol a few months ago.

But injuries to Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read and a discovery of form which was on full display against the Chiefs has Luatua an almost irresistible selection for the Lions series. 

Steven Luatua
Steven Luatua has slotted in seamlessly for the injured Jerome Kaino (Photosport)

All Blacks selectors don't typically pick players who've already committed their future elsewhere but he's making himself a must-pick. If he wasn't heading overseas, he'd be a shoo-in.

4. Maybe the Hurricanes need Otere Black

Any team is only an injury or two away from troubled waters, even if that team is the Hurricanes. Beauden Barrett's omission from the Bulls game may have just been precautionary, but Otere Black took the opportunity to prove his importance to the team. 

While he's spent most of the season on the bench, I can't help but feel 2017 will be a career-defining season for him in terms of being able to sort his priorities and learn under the best.

5. Halfbacks for Lions series are now a lottery

The trio has already been selected for the Lions series - Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

While Perenara and Kerr-Barlow looked to lock down the AB roles earlier this season, Smith's recent resurgence has evened up the field.

Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith has clawed his way back to the field (Photosport)

Finding his voice, that low bullet pass and a willingness to snipe, Smith was brilliant against the Waratahs who looked the goods early on. 

He could very well regain the All Black top spot when the team is announced in 10 days.

Matt Tewhatu is a digital producer for Newshub.