OPINION: You could be mistaken for forgetting about the opening round of Super Rugby this weekend, but there was plenty to like about the on-field action.
With a new era about to begin for the All Blacks, players are aware of what's up for grabs and you can already sense that extra edge of determination.
These players, in particular, brought their best in round one.
1-Aidan Ross (Chiefs) - After Nepo Laulala and Angus Ta'avao were lost to injuries, Ross was forced to go 80 minutes and proved more than up to the task. He did well to help regain control of a scrum that was dominated in the first half and scored a vital try himself.
2-Samisini Taukei'aho (Chiefs) - With Nathan Harris out for the season, the 22-year-old had a chance to solidify his spot at hooker and he certainly did that. Two lovely tries from the lineout drive showed his strength and he got through a mountain of work defensively.
3-Karl Tu'inukuafe (Blues) - He came off the bench and immediately posed problems for the Chiefs defence, running powerfully and scoring a good try. Now he just needs to stay healthy.
4-Tom Robinson (Blues) - 'Big Red' was a force on defence, making all 12 of his tackles and getting to work at the breakdown against a very strong Chiefs unit.
5-Mitch Brown (Chiefs) - The leading tackler for week one (22), the flanker-turned-lock dominated on defence and at the breakdown.
6-Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs) - Player of the Week. He was everywhere for the Chiefs, owning the breakdown with partner-in-crime Sam Cane, with the pair forcing three penalties.
Added 18 massive tackles to that mix.
7-Mitch Karpik (Chiefs) - Was part of the Chiefs army protecting the ball at the ruck, and combined with Boshier and Brown for a staggering 55 tackles.
8-Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) - The 21-year-old was a beast with ball in hand, notching 118 metres, including two linebreaks and five tackle busts. If he continues to play like this, Akira Ioane will have to get used to the sideline.
9-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs) - A fine performance in the season-opener, combining well with Anton Lienert-Brown to break up the Blues in the lead-up to Sowakula's try. Will need to keep turning heads, if he wants to regain that third All Blacks halfback spot.
10-Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) - The prodigal son has returned. His first task was to orchestrate a 14-point second-half comeback and he did it in style with a lovely break to set up a try, then a cheeky drop-kick to seal the deal.
11-Rieko Ioane (Blues) - After a relatively underwhelming 2019, Ioane has shed some weight and already looks like the machine of old. Two powerful tries against the Chiefs gave a hint of what's to come in what shapes as a redemption season.
12-TJ Faiane (Blues) - Beat defenders with ease with his power running and combined well with his new midfield partner, English import Joe Marchant. Encouraging signs for Blues fans.
13-Braydon Ennor (Crusaders) - Linked well with Jack Goodhue in the competition's most explosive midfield. Scored a couple of nice tries and helped shift the ball quickly.
14-Will Jordan (Crusaders) - A scary-looking prospect with ball in hand. We saw what he could do last year, but this may just be his breakout year.
Two tries in a solid performance on the right wing.
15-David Havili (Crusaders) - An impressive performance from the back, with 130 running metres, five tackle busts, as well as a decent effort off the kicking tee, filling in for regular Richie Mo'unga.
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