Southland Times rugby writer NATHAN BURDON ranks this year's Stags squad.
Tayler Adams: 5/10 - lost his place midway through the season, with an erratic pass his worst crime. Seemed to have had it back under control by the semifinal, but still needs to choose his running options better.
Nick Barrett: 5/10 - still struggling to establish himself at this level, but a run with the New Zealand Maori team should help. Injury has not helped, but he has time on his side. Will hopefully develop next season.
Josh Bekhuis: 7 /10 - the ultimate diesel, Bekhuis just keeps turning in quality, if understated, performances. While he doesn't reach the high notes, his consistency has to be respected and he was at the heart of a very good Southland lineout.
Tim Boys: 6/10 - not the standout season Boys would have hoped for to boost his Super Rugby prospects.
Tim Cornforth: 6/10 - dangerous with space and time, those opportunities were too infrequent for him to really prosper. Injury struck when the Stags really needed him.
Naulia Dawai: 5/10 - improving in his new role at flanker, his progression will be watched with interest.
Elliot Dixon: 6/10 - outstanding at his best, but still goes missing for frustrating lengths of time. When Dixon has a good game, the Stags usually win.
Scott Eade: 7/10 - he might have faded later in the campaign, but Eade's ability to turn his hand to halfback was a boon for the Stags. That performance against Otago was one of the best in a maroon jersey for some time. Needs to go a little easier on himself when things don't run his way.
Michael Fatialofa: 6/10 - the big improver in the Stags pack this season. Free of injury we started to see what he's really capable of. A handy ball carrier, with plenty of potential. A Super Rugby contract is within his grasp.
Calvary Fonoti: 5/10 - displayed some promise, but his arrival midseason raised a few eyebrows.
David Hall: 5/10 - plenty of credit should go to Hall for answering the call following the season-ending injury to Jason Rutledge. Deserves to go into retirement with his head held high following a gutsy career.
Willis Halaholo: 7/10 - the find of the season for Southland. Shrugged off some ordinary club form to emerge as a true attacking talent. Defence needs plenty of work but the potential is unquestionable.
John Hardie: 6/10 - more workmanlike than we would like. Hardie needs to be a ball-carrying threat if he's going to advance and more thought needs to be put into his management because his body is taking a pounding.
Keanu Kahukura: 5/10 - certainly worth more exposure. Definitely strong and fast enough, but needs to back himself after making the break and use some of that power in his tackling.
Nemia Kenatale: n/a - barely required with Eade and Adams handling most of the halfback duties.
JP Koen: 5/10 - got his chance and made a reasonable fist of bridging the gap from club rugby to first class footy. Always good to see a club battler get an opportunity in the spotlight.
Jamie Mackintosh: 6/10 - like Hall, a deserved new member of the centurion club. We would love to see him bump off a defender, but he does seem to be profiting from the new scrum rules.
Marty McKenzie: 6/10 - had to bounce around before finding a position this season. You have to love a player who will try anything, anywhere. It's brilliant when it comes off, but when it doesn't . . .
Bryan Milne: 6/10 - the feel-good story of the year. More than adequate in the midfield and a handy wing option, his try in the semifinal was good reward for perseverance.
Tuki Raimona: n/a - injuries and limited opportunities made for a season to forget for the Marist prop.
Robbie Robinson: 4/10 - unable to translate some handy Super Rugby form into anything more substantial at NPC level.
Craig Smith: n/a - will be better for the experience. Now knows what's required to push on next season.
Hale T-Pole: 6/10 - probably should have played more. The veteran was Southland's best against Northland but was restricted to cameo appearances for much of the season.
Talemaitoga Tuapati: 5/10 - with Rutledge gone for the season, this was Tuapati's chance to grab the starting hooker's spot, but he couldn't force his way past Hall.
Cardiff Vaega: 6/10 - another season of progression for Vaega, who will join the Hurricanes next season. Always dangerous, but overshadowed a little during the season by Halaholo. Defence remains a work-on.
Gareth Williams-Spiers: 5/10 - worth persevering with, but needs to develop his work rate if he returns south following groin surgery.
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