Aussie conference preview

2014-01-20 14:06
Super Rugby (File)
An interesting aspect of the Aussie conference is the number of South African players who will ply their trade down under this year with the bulk being in the Force’s squad. Most of these players were fringe players with only Wilhelm Steenkamp (Force) and Jacques Potgieter (Waratahs) being regulars in their previous teams.

The Aussie franchise all had heavy staff turnovers during the off season with the Force, the Rebels and the Waratahs the hardest hit by the loss of key players while the Brumbies and the Reds both lost their head coaches.

After losing only a few key players the Brumbies have a good chance of emulating their 2013 season and ending top of the Aussie conference and in a semi-final spot overall. Losing coach Jake White may have an effect but they retained his assistant coaches so the effect of Jake White’s defection should be minimal.

The Reds lost a few key players but the biggest loss is probably losing head coach Ewen McKenzie who took a young team from a regular bottom feeders prior to 2010 to contenders since 2010 and champions in 2011. 2014 could be a tough year coming to grips with a new coach and the Reds will hope that the Li’l Genius regained his form during the off season.

The Waratahs lost quite a few key players although a number of them are close to being over the hill. The ‘Tahs have been struggling in recent years and 2014 is going to be no different as the try to rebuild to former glory days when they were regular contenders.

The Force took a knock during the off-season as key players deserted and they recruited heavily from South Africa to restock their squad. Although the none of the South Africans were first choice players at their previous teams they may be enough to keep the Force off the bottom of both the Aussie and the Combined tables.

The sob story of the Aussie conference is that of the Rebels. Not only are they struggling financially but their core has been ripped apart as players left what seems to be a sinking ship. And they nowhere near replaced the quality they lost with their new recruits. I really don’t see them moving off the bottom off the log at any time during the competition


Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 1
Overall: 2

Key losses: Jake White (head coach), Peter Kimlin, George Smith,
Key gaines: None

Internationals: 15 (14 Wallabies, 1 Japan)

Props: Ben Alexander, Ruaidhri Murphy, Scott Sio, Ruan Smith
Hookers: Joshua Mann-Rea, Stephen Moore, Siliva Siliva
Locks: Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Leon Power, Jack Whetton
Loose Forwards: Fotu Auelua, Jarrad Butler, Ben Mowen, David Pocock, Jordan Smiler, Ita Vaea
Scrum-Halves: Conrad Hoffmann, Nic White
Fly-Halves: Lionel Cronjé, Harumichi Tatekawa, Matt Toomua
Centres: Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Andrew Smith
Wings: Clyde Rathbone, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane
Fullbacks: Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg


Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 2
Overall: 5

Key losses: Radike Samo, Digby Ioane, Ewen McKenzie (head coach)
Key gaines: Lachlan Turner

Internationals: 18 (18 Wallabies)

Props: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Greg Holmes, Jono Owen, James Slipper
Hookers: Saia Fainga’a, James Hanson
Locks: James Horwill, David McDuling, Ireland Ed O’Donoghue, Rob Simmons
Loose forwards: Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, Beau Robinson, Jake Schatz
Scrum-halves: Nick Frisby, Will Genia
Fly-halves: Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas
Centres: Anthony Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ben Tapuai, Aidan Toua
Wings: Rod Davies, Dom Shipperley, Lachlan Turner
Fullbacks: Michael Harris, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi


Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 3
Overall: 11

Key losses: Sitaleki Timani, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Tom Carter, Tom Kingston, Drew Mitchell, Lachlan Turner
Key gaines: Jacques Potgieter, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale

Internationals: 16 (15 Wallabies, 1 Springbok)

Props: Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Tilse
Hookers: Tolu Latu, Tatafu Polota-Nau
Locks: Kane Douglas, Jed Holloway, Will Skelton
Loose Forwards: Mitchell Chapman, Dave Dennis, Tala Gray, Michael Hooper, Pat McCutcheon, Wycliff Palu, Jacques Potgieter
Scrum-halves: Brendan McKibbin, Nick Phipps
Fly-halves: Bernard Foley, Ben Volavola
Centres: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hodge, Rob Horne, Jono Lance
Wingers: Peter Betham, Matthew Carraro, Cam Crawford
Fullbacks: Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau


Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 4
Overall: 13

Key losses: Brett Sheehan, Winston Stanley, Alfi Mafi
Key gaines: Wilhelm Steenkamp, Ian Prior, Luke Morahan

Internationals: 6 (6 Wallabies)

Props: Pekahou Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Chris Heiberg, Kieran Longbottom, Salesi Manu
Hookers: Nathan Charles, Heath Tessmann
Locks: Phoenix Battye, Hugh McMeniman, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Sam Wykes
Loose Forwards: Chris Alcock, Angus Cottrell, Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman, Brynard Stander
Scrum-Halves: Alby Mathewson, Ian Prior
Fly-Halves: Sias Ebersohn, Kyle Godwin, Zack Holmes
Centres: Marcel Brache, Jayden Hayward, Junior Rasolea, Ed Stubbs, Chris Tuatara-Morrison
Wingers: Nick Cummins
Fullbacks: Patrick Dellit, Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan


Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 5
Overall: 15

Key losses: Ged Robinson, Jarrod Saffy, Gareth Delve, Nick Phipps, James O’Connor, Richard Kingi, Cooper Vuna, Kurtley Beale
Key gaines: Lopeti Timani, Tamati Ellison, Tom Kingston

Internationals: 6 (3 Wallabies, 1 Tonga, 1 Fiji, 1 Japan)

Props: Eddie Aholelei, Paul Alo-Emile, Max Lahiff, Toby Smith, Laurie Weeks
Hookers: Shota Horie, Tom Sexton
Locks: Luke Jones, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Chris Thomson
Loose Forwards: Colby Fainga’a, Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Jordy Reid, Lopeti Timani
Scrum-halves: Luke Burgess, Nic Stirzaker
Fly-halves: Bryce Hegarty, Angus Roberts
Centres: Tamati Ellison, Tom English, Mitch Inman, Lachlan Mitchell
Wingers: Tom Kingston, Telusa Veainu
Fullbacks: Alex Rokobaro, Jason Woodward

SA Conference Preview and Kiwi Conference Preview

SA Conference:

Kiwi Conference:


Aussie Conference:


1. Chiefs
2. Brumbies
3. Sharks
4. Crusaders
5. Reds
6. Cheetahs
7. Hurricanes
8. Stormers
9. Blues
10. Bulls
11. Waratahs
12. Lions
13. Force
14. Highlanders
15. Rebels

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