Newshub’s Sporting Review 2019: Breakout star of the year

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While the All Blacks’ semi-final exit from the World Cup still has Kiwi rugbyheads crying into their beer, Mo’unga’s emergence as first-choice first-five was a revelation.

The Crusaders pivot began the year as New Zealand’s third-string No.10 – at least in the selectors’ eyes – behind Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie.

But when McKenzie fell early to a season-ending knee injury, Mo’unga jumped a spot in the rankings and further pressed his case, as his side grabbed their third straight Super Rugby title.

His form was so impressive, the All Blacks gambled by moving the world’s best first-five to fullback – and ultimately dropping perhaps the world’s best fullback altogether.

Whatever you think of the World Cup result, the Mo’unga-Barrett playmaking combo showed flashes of brilliance throughout the season.

With a new coaching hierarchy taking over the national side and McKenzie presumably returning to full fitness, the scramble for first-five and fullback positions looms as one of the most intriguing question marks hanging over the All Blacks in 2020.
Grant Chapman, Newshub sport digital editor

SEVU REECE
After taking out the top try scorer gong in the Mitre 10 Cup in 2018 for Waikato, Reece made the step up to Super Rugby and shone for the Crusaders.

Brought in as injury cover for Israel Dagg, Reece established himself as the best right winger in New Zealand.



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