My New Zealand Super Rugby team of the tournament for 2018 is a bit different to who I expect the All Blacks selectors will pick for the Rugby Championship.
There are a whole bunch of other factors that get thrown into choosing the Test side. Super Rugby is a step down, and you can stand out at Super Rugby in a lot of ways that you can't at international level.
So with that understanding, my team is as follows...
Starting from fullback, my choice would be David Havili. He had a great season last year and carried on from where he left off; he's finishing the season strongly as part of a Crusaders team that is playing superbly. Solomon Alaimalo is a player I thought about long and hard at fullback; he is on the radar and nipping at Havili's heels. Then, of course, Ben Smith is Mr Consistent.
Of the wings, Tevita Li has been really dangerous for the Highlanders, along with Waisake Naholo, who is absolute class. Rieko Ioane was a standout for the Blues; when he touches the ball you get the feeling anything can happen.
Hurricanes winger Ben Lam started the season really well. We were all talking about All Blacks honours for Lam; he pushed Julian Savea to the side and kept that Hurricanes starting position.
But the two I have picked are George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu. Bridge is a young, up-and-coming player who is a try-scoring machine. The All Blacks selectors may have a question mark around his defence but given his age that will change. I would have Tamanivalu on the other wing; he's just a powerhouse who has been sensational for the Crusaders.
Jack Goodhue would be my choice at outside centre. He's a strong midfielder who is going to be around for a long time. He's put his hand up in a team that is hard to go past as a measure for all others. Close behind him would be Anton Lienert-Brown. The common thing about all players I mention in the midfield is their consistency.
It's hard to go past Ngani Laumape at No. 12. Laumape was used as a decoy in the semifinal at the weekend and it didn't work for the Hurricanes. But that was no slight on his season overall which saw him reinforce his selection in the All Blacks' mix. You have to mention Ryan Crotty as well who continues to deliver for the Crusaders. Crotty's defensive qualities mean he is probably captain of the Crusaders' defence; he should take a lot of credit from the fact people find it so hard to score against the Crusaders.
First five-eighth is interesting, but I have gone with Richie Mo'unga. Again the Crusaders are on fire and that is because the little general is marshalling his troops around the field and doing the right thing at the right time. He's been brilliant.
A close mention behind him is Steven Perofeta. I think it is a myth that the Blues are searching for their next No. 10. Perofeta is that player and the reason for the failures and misgivings with the Blues has got nothing to do with first five-eighth. If anything you would be looking at the lack of fear-factor in the front five because I don't think people are scared of the Blues. As for Beauden Barrett, there were times this season when he didn't look like the All Blacks first-five for the Hurricanes; Mo'unga really has put his hand up.
At halfback, TJ Perenara has just been brilliant. He is a player that can do everything. Perenara is an annoying jack-in-the-box scrum-half, a real bundle of energy; the amount of intercepts he makes is representative of that. This has been a standout season for him and not many halfbacks could come close to him.
Close behind Perenara is Brad Weber. He's had his share of injuries and missed out on All Blacks selection for June, but I think he's been brilliant for the Chiefs in the last couple of weeks. He's quite an annoying player and when a halfback is annoying you know they are doing their job.
Akira Ioane is my choice at No.8 because he has to do so much in a team where someone has to take on that role. When he does something the Blues can build off that. Luke Whitelock is right in behind Ioane; he's been a tackling machine for the Highlanders. Brad Shields has done a similar job for the Hurricanes while Kieran Read doesn't come into consideration as a result of being out for so much of the season, so I'm not undermining the All Blacks captain at all.
My blindside flanker would be Jordan Taufua. The Crusaders forward is not a big guy but he manages to play like one. He's certainly got some power about him and he's someone that creates opportunities for the Crusaders, through his defence and physicality. What he brings to the table is great.
In behind him I have Shannon Frizell. He and Taufua two are players you wouldn't have selected in the All Blacks at the beginning of the year but they've thrust themselves into Super and been suitably rewarded.
Matt Todd is my openside flanker. Again, it is his consistency that is crucial in the Crusaders team. Sam Cane has also been good while another name I want to put out there is Gareth Evans. He's not the traditional No.7 and hasn't played there often, but when they have put him there he's been a terrier. When Evans has been out there he's made turnovers, broken the line and basically done everything. He doesn't fit the usual No.7 mould but he's been great for the Hurricanes.
Among the locks Brodie Retallick has been the difference for the Chiefs. Whenever he plays the Chiefs have that forward dominance and he brings fear factor to the opposition. My second choice might be controversial, but I've gone on form alone and chosen Scott Barrett. He's been really physical this year; his ball carries and round-the-field play have impressed me immensely. It's no slight on Sam Whitelock but based on this year's form he's the back-up reserve.
My loosehead prop is Karl Tu'inukuafe. I love Tu'inukuafe's story, where he's come from and what he's done. Tu'inukuafe had a huge season; he asked questions of his opposition and did his job well.
On the tighthead side I've gone with Angus Ta'avao who offers more in his around-the-field play. This is not based on scrummaging alone; he just adds that extra little bit in loose play. It's no slant on Owen Franks but I think Ta'avao's mobility has been good while Jeff Toomaga-Allen has had a great season as well.
At hooker, Codie Taylor has just gone from strength to strength. He had a great season. Taylor has asserted himself as the incumbent All Blacks hooker. At the same time you have to acknowledge Ricky Riccitelli, who has been great this year, and Liam Coltman. And just like the props there is some good pedigree in behind them.
Craig Dowd's NZ Super Rugby team for 2018:
David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara; Akira Ioane, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua; Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Angus Ta'avao, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu'inukuafe.