Super Rugby
Super Rugby Hitmen: making an impact
Andy Withers
January 9, 2015
© Graham Cousens /

Nothing inspires a rugby player, or impresses the fans, quite as much as a big hit on the opposition. Attack or defence, the impact is the same. We list below 10 of the hardest hitters in Super Rugby, and we're keen to hear your thoughts. Who are your favourite hitmen suiting up in Super Rugby this year? Let us know in the comments below, or by joining the conversation using the hashtags #SuperRugbyHitmen or #10For20.

Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)

Bismarck du Plessis monstered Dan Carter on Test duty in Auckland, © Getty Images

Remember his bone-crunching hit on Dan Carter in Auckland, for which he received, wrongly, a yellow card? It's the stuff of legend. He weighs 110+kg and bench-presses 270kg. Monster who leads the Sharks from the front.

Malakai Fekitoa provides brutal hitting power out wide © Getty Images

Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)

So he's known for his powerful ball running and stepping footwork, but Conrad Smith will attest to his fellow All Blacks centre's ability to put a man on his back.

Jerome Kaino (Blues)

JK II is a hero even beyond Auckland for the way in which he imprints himself, all menace and intent, with his damaging hits on the opposition. Then there's his ball running.

Jerome Kaino makes a fearsome impact with and without the ball © Getty Images

Motu Matu'u (Hurricanes)

He sent Mark Gerrard and Lachlan Mitchell to hospital in 2012, and Matt Hodgson probably still has nightmares about his own levelling. Ball in hand? He knocked out Rey Lee-Lo with a charge in 2013. An "impact player" by name and nature, he is possibly the hitman of Super Rugby.

Nemani Nadolo ranks among the most damaging ball runners in world rugby © Getty Images

Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders)

Nemani Nadolo stands a Jonah Lomu-esque 195cm and 130kg, and at full flow he is a sight to behold; he might just be the most damaging broken-field runner in rugby right now. He's got game to go with the gas.

Jacques Potgieter (Waratahs)

The cult hero around whom Michael Cheika built a title-winning campaign, there is probably no better sight in rugby that Aussie Jack, flowing locks and all, tearing it up.

Jacques Potgieter knocked out Tevita Kuridrani in this contact © Getty Images

Julian Savea leaves damage in his wake © PA Photos

Julian Savea (Hurricanes)

'The Bus' crunches his rivals with a combination of size, power and no little speed, and we're surprised he's not patented "the bump". You won't wait long to see his signature move.

Will Skelton (Waratahs)

There's a lot of Skelton, at 203cm and 135kg, and his opponents know they've been hit in both attack and defence.

Will Skelton takes a lot of stopping © Getty Images

Ben Tameifuna is a big man who makes a bigger impact © Getty Images

Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)

Ben Tameifuna is a big man who makes a big impact with big hits in defence. Just ask Michael Hooper. He's both irresistible force and immovable object.

Duane Vermeulen makes an impact in all aspects of the game © Getty Images

Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)

Damaging either side of the ruck, he is equally fearsome with ball in hand as when smashing a running. Described often by fans as being in "Beast" or "Thor" mode. Everything you want from a hitman, then.

Who are your favourite hitmen suiting up in Super Rugby this year? Let us know in the comments below, or by joining the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #SuperRugbyHitmen or #10For20.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Andy Withers is Managing Editor, ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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