5 talking points for the new Super Rugby season
Wellington - Super
Rugby returns on Friday with 21 straight weeks of competition until the
July 6 final.
Five talking points for the 24th year of the
southern hemisphere club championship.
Try, try and try again
There is enough pressure
already on Rugby World Cup hopefuls to be at their best, physically and
mentally for nearly five months, then hold their form through the Rugby
Championship before peaking again when the global showpiece starts in
Not satisfied with that, Sharks coach Robert du Preez has
added to the heat on his side by demanding four tries per match, blaming
wasted opportunities for finishing second-to-last in the 2018
"We could have scored more tries, and that is what the aim will be this season, to score four tries in every game," he decreed.
Did you see that?
One of the biggest gripes in
recent years has surrounded inconsistent refereeing over mid-air
collisions, high tackles, time-consuming use of the television match
official - and looking after Australia's favourite son David Pocock.
The whistle-blowers say they thrashed out all the issues at a January
get-together and believe they are now all on the same page, even to the
point of protecting Pocock whose feats at the breakdown leave him
susceptible to the horrendous neck roll.
"There has been a very clear understanding from the referees around
managing that situation a lot better," said competition boss Andy
"You don't want to take away a player's ability to clean him out, but
it's about can someone clean him out in a less damaging way."
This means war
Former All Blacks enforcer Brad
Thorn took no prisoners in his playing days and now that he's coaching
the Reds he's instilling the same toughness in his players.
After finishing a disappointing 13th last year, Thorn subjected his
charges to a three-day Australian army bootcamp to get them fighting fit
for this season.
"We walked miles and miles, I don't know how many," said Samu Kerevi.
"We pushed trailers, we carried people, injured combatants that we
had to carry for ages ... there was nights where we'd think we'd sleep
but we wouldn't."
Centre of attention
The World Cup distraction
will have coaches debating when best to use their marquee players with
reputations on the line at every outing.
The Blues have already decided not to play Sonny Bill
Williams rather than risk both him and Ma'a Nonu in Saturday's clash
with the star-studded Crusaders.
The Melbourne Rebels, though, have wasted no time displaying their
new halves combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper in an all-Wallaby
showdown against the Brumbies pair of Joel Powell and Christian
World against Crusaders
The Crusaders may start the season as title favourites but history says World Cup years count against them.
They are chasing a third successive title, a feat only managed by one
other team and that was an earlier vintage Crusaders in 1998, 1999,
Of their nine titles, 1999 is the only time they have won in a World
Cup year as demands to ease up on the work loads of Test players has
cost them dearly.