AUCKLAND, NZ – Another round of Super Rugby, another preview that’ll be breathtaking in it’s brevity. Here’s hoping for another good round like last weekend, which saw the Chiefs record a very impressive victory in Cape Town against the Stormers and the Hurricanes return home to an unprecedented four-win start to the comp. As usual there’s been plenty of talk this week about their last opponents, the hapless Blues.
So what’s going on here in Auckland? Surely it can’t just be the coach’s fault? While a big portion of the blame can be attributed to Sir John Kirwan’s inability to make up his mind on key selections (first five), letting good players go (Malakai Fekitoa) and foolish off-season buys (Benji Marshall), questions have to be asked of the players, too. This is a team with some seriously senior All Blacks and, ironically, this is maybe where the problem lies. It wouldn’t matter if Jerome Kaino phones it in for the whole season, he’ll still be in the All Blacks come June. Same with Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina and probably Charles Piutau. There’s barely any guys who are on the cusp of All Black selection who are genuinely playing for a spot like Steven Luatua, while others like Luke Braid, Josh Bekhuis and Francis Saili are clearly on the outer with the national selectors. Sure, they should be all playing for the greater glory of the Blues. But with the revolving door policy that their coaching staff has had to operate under for the last 12 or so years it must be incredibly difficult to institute a lasting team culture. The unfortunate aspect of all this is that with each passing miserable season they’re further away from their former glories and closer to being the permanent basket-case of the NZ conference.
Here’s the schedule for Super Rugby Round Six:
At Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin: Highlanders vs. Hurricanes #HIGvHUR Prediction: Hurricanes by 3
At AAMI Park, Melbourne: Rebels vs. Lions #REBvLIO Prediction: Rebels by 10
At AMI Stadium, Christchurch: Crusaders vs. Cheetahs #CRUvCHE Prediction: Crusaders by 15
At Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria: Bulls vs. Force #BULvFOR Prediction: Bulls by 16
At King’s Park, Durban: Sharks vs. Chiefs #SHAvCHI Prediction: Chiefs by 8
At Allianz Stadium, Sydney: Waratahs vs. Brumbies #WARvBRU Prediction: Brumbies by 2
The Blues, Reds and Stormers all have the weekend off. In the case of the Blues it couldn’t come fast enough as for the first time this season their fans won’t have to watch them lose. The Reds aren’t exactly setting the world on fire but at least they’ve won a game, meanwhile the Stormers have only just suffered their first loss.
Some notes on round six:
The Chiefs will be be starting Andrew Horrell and Seta Tamanivalu in the midfield after SBW and Tim Nanai-Williams were ruled out with injuries.
Flanker David Pocock will return to Super Rugby via the Waratahs bench against the Brumbies.
The Hurricanes will be without hooker Dane Coles and lock James Broadhurst. Coles is being rested due to the All Blacks mandatory stand-down policy while Broadhurst has been suspended for punching last week. However, Cory Jane and Jeremy Thrush return.
Flanker Dan Pryor will be the fourth man to don the Highlanders number 7 jersey this season when they play the Hurricanes.
Luke Morahan returns from injury for the Force, named at fullback for their game against the Bulls.
Game To Watch: Definitely the Friday night game between the Canes and Highlanders. It’s O-week in Dunedin so there’ll be a massive crowd of home and ex-pat supporters alike, hopefully both teams show up and give the ball some air. Here’s a look back at a particularly high-scoring encounter between the two sides a couple of years ago:
There it is, round six of Super Rugby all ready to get underway, so enjoy the footy.
That’s it for now. Feel free to add your thoughts below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Jamie Wall, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Scheenagh Harrington, Jake Frechette, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter and Declan Yeats, respectively.