Photosport/John Davidson/INPHO
sum of their parts

Super Rugby's team of the season features just one player from champions Crusaders

You can prove anything with stats.

WING GEORGE BRIDGE was the only star from champions Canterbury Crusaders to be included in the official Super Rugby team of the season released today.

Bridge scored 15 tries during a season which ended with Crusaders defeating the Golden Lions of South Africa 37-18 in the final in Christchurch on Saturday.

His try haul was the joint second in the competition this year, bettered only by the 16 of Ben Lam, the Hurricanes winger who did not make the team.

Crusaders were the outstanding team this season as they achieved a record-extending ninth title and second in a row, having also beaten the Lions in the 2017 final.

With Ronan O’Gara among the coaching ticket, they won 14 of 16 regular-season matches, then achieved convincing victories over the Sharks, Hurricanes and Lions in the knockout phase.

Super Rugby organisers SANZAAR justified the selections, saying on its website that they were “based on a comprehensive statistical index that monitors in detail every action of every match”.

Four of the choices came from beaten quarter-finalists the Waikato Chiefs — wing Solomon Alaimalo, centre Anton Lienert-Brown, fly-half Damian McKenzie and lock Brodie Retallick.

All Black McKenzie was named player of the season with his line-breaking ability taking him into the Sanzaar selection ahead of Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo’unga.

Damian McKenzie Photosport / Bruce Lim/INPHO Photosport / Bruce Lim/INPHO / Bruce Lim/INPHO

“McKenzie’s statistics are pretty impressive… including beating 74 defenders and amassing 177 points during the season,” Sanzaar said.

Only three of the 15 Super Rugby teams — the ACT Brumbies, Otago Highlanders and Melbourne Rebels — did not have a player in the team.

Super Rugby Team of 2018 (15-1): Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs); Solomon Alaimalo, Anton Lienert-Brown (both Waikato Chiefs), Michael Little (Sunwolves), George Bridge (Canterbury Crusaders); Damian McKenzie (Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Wellington Hurricanes); Akira Ioane (Auckland Blues), Jean-Luc du Preez (Coastal Sharks), Pablo Matera (Jaguares); Lood de Jager (Northern Bulls), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs); Taniela Tupou (Queensland Reds), Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions), Steven Kitshoff (Western Stormers).

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