Cape Town - Five talking points ahead of this weekend's Round 15 of Super Rugby matches:
Goodbye to injury-prone Pocock?
David Pocock may have played his last game for the Brumbies after
failing to shake off a calf injury that has dogged his season.
Pocock, who is expected to move abroad next year, has been ruled out
of Friday's match against Northern Bulls and coach Dan McKellar said the
veteran may sit out the rest of the season to ensure he is fit for the
"We've got to look at whether he plays Super Rugby or whether he now puts his attention towards the World Cup," he said.
"Those are things we've got to discuss between the Brumbies and the Wallabies."
However, the Canberra team are celebrating prop Scott Sio's decision
to sign a three-year deal to stay with the Brumbies and Wallabies until
the end of 2022.
Nothing in the air for Folau-less Waratahs
wing Cameron Clark has indicated the Sydney-siders will run the ball
more, rather than kick it, now that aerial specialist Israel Folau has
departed in controversial circumstances.
Clark described Folau, Super Rugby's leading try-scorer, as "probably
the best player in the air in the world" but insisted the Waratahs
would remain a potent attacking force without him.
"We definitely have the ability to score points if we hold onto the
ball," Clark said ahead of this weekend's match against Argentina's
"It comes down to our attacking structure, and wearing teams down. We
want to hold onto the ball and pressure our way into points."
Sharks lose their bite at home
The Sharks will be missing two injured Springbok front rowers, prop Tendai "The Beast"
Mtawarira and hooker Akker van der Merwe, against the Lions as they seek
to improve a dismal home record.
The Durban outfit have lost four of six Super Rugby matches at Kings
Park in the Indian Ocean port city this season, including a 34-point
drubbing by the Argentine Jaguares.
"I do not know the exact reasons why we struggle at home," admitted
Coenie Oosthuizen, another Sharks prop who has represented South Africa.
"What I do know is that we need to start home matches better. When
our team does not begin well, we tend to struggle throughout a game."
Despite winning only five of 12 matches and lying fourth in the South
African conference, the Sharks are just three points behind the
Hansen questions penalty count
All Blacks coach
Steve Hansen has criticised Super Rugby refereeing in South Africa,
although his comments could also be seen as an early warning that he
will be vocal about officiating at the World Cup in Japan.
Questionable decisions cost the Crusaders victory in their
19-19 draw with the Stormers last weekend and Hansen also believed the Lions were getting the rub of the green.
"(Penalties) are not consistent on both sides - if it's a penalty
today then it's a penalty for the whole day, not just part of the day,"
"The Lions have been awarded 48 penalties in three games while the
opposition sides have only been awarded six. That would mean there's
not a lot of consistency being applied."
The complaint is a departure for Hansen, whose colourful advice after
previous refereeing controversies has been to "flush the dunny and move
NZ Olympic sevens options restricted
sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has revealed officials have restricted him to
selecting one player from each of the country's Super Rugby clubs for
the Tokyo Olympics next year.
The move is an attempt to avoid the messy selection process before
the Rio Games, when Laidlaw's predecessor Gordon Tietjens failed to lure
All Blacks such as Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea, Aaron Cruden and Ben
Smith into his squad.
In a major shock, the 12-time world sevens champions failed to win a
medal in Rio and Tietjens resigned, complaining that New Zealand Rugby
had blocked his access to top players.
Laidlaw said he had made a pitch to New Zealand's Super Rugby players
about chasing Olympic glory in Japan and expected to hear from those
who were interested next month.
"We've identified Super Rugby players and All Blacks who we think
have the potential to play sevens. Now it's in the players' hands to see
who is interested and who is not," he told the New Zealand Herald.