John Day: New Zealand Super Rugby Team of the Week, Round Eight

OPINION: The Hurricanes pipped the Highlanders in a tense opener to round eight at Forsyth Barr Stadium. 
The Crusaders battled through a tough opening half to come from behind and beat the Brumbies in Christchurch. 
Finally, the Blues found a way to dig deep and hold off the surging Waratahs to record a fourth straight Super Rugby victory. 

Here's how John Day rates the top NZ players this week. 

1-Alex Hodgman (Blues): A tireless effort up front, epitomising what the Blues are all about this year. Grit and determination.

2-Ben Funnell (Crusaders): A late starter, after Codie Taylor pulled out, and played like the coaching staff had been starving him - hungry as.

3-Tyrel Lomax (Highlanders): Extremely athletic and industrious for a tighthead prop. May have lost his long locks, but unlike Samson, has retained all his power.

4-Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues): Becoming a regular fixture in the TOTW. Needed a big season, if the Blues were to do well and he's certainly delivering.

5-Scott Barrett (Crusaders): Starting to rival Brodie Retallick as having the biggest engine in NZ rugby. Never seems to miss a tackle.

6-Shannon Frizell (Highlanders): There's no stopping the big Tongan close to the line. Has to be the favourite for the All Blacks blindside, with Liam Squire still out.

7-Ardie Savea (Hurricanes): Easily the outstanding player of the weekend. Almost singlehandedly won the game for the Canes. Has had a helluva last 12 months.

8-Luke Whitelock (Highlanders): We know he can tackle, but also showed some rarely seen flair, with some offloads among plenty of tough runs.

9-TJ Perenara (Hurricanes): Mixed up his running and passing game well, also scored his 50th Super Rugby try.

10-Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders): Incredibly close call this week with Beauden Barrett. Clearly the two best first-fives in the country.

11-Sevu Reece (Crusaders): Intercept king and an absolute metre-eater. Taking every chance he gets.

12-Ma'a Nonu (Blues): No sooner had I written down Ryan Crotty's name, Nonu produced another blinder. Age is no barrier for the two-time World Cup winner.

13-TJ Faiane (Blues): Enjoying a breakout season at centre, he's the rock in an impressive Blues backline.

14-Will Jordan(Crusaders): This kid certainly knows his way to the try-line, even if the opposition's determined to rip his head off.

15-Ben Smith (Highlanders): Doing what he always does, beating defenders with apparent ease, while doing a great job as a second playmaker.

John Day is a Newshub sports reporter.