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Thread: Super 14 2009

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    Super 14 2009

    Right, I am tired of talking politics so lets get back to something more important.

    Super 14 Preview : Part 1


    Source : www.sharksrugby.co.za

    A year ago the New Zealand sides suffered a fairly large player drain with senior All Blacks taking up contracts with European clubs, and the trend looks set to continue as player and coach movements will see a number of new look sides in the 2009 Vodacom Super 14 tournament.

    The Sharks may have a new Super 14 coach in John Plumtree who takes over from Dick Muir who was at the helm in 2008, but the astute former Sharks player is no stranger to the coaching setup having guided the Sharks to their first trophy win since 1996 in last year’s Absa Currie Cup. He will again be assisted by Grant Bashford as well as a former coaching assistant from Wellington and fellow New Zealander, Chris Boyd.
    There has been no massive recruitment drive as the Sharks look to consolidate on an already impressive squad that comes off the back of major domestic success which will help in their quest to maintain continuity and build momentum in 2009.
    John Smit is back in the Super 14 side after missing last year’s tournament having taken up a contract to play club rugby in France but flyhalf Frederic Michalak has departed our shores as has midfielder Bradley Barritt (to Saracens).
    Otherwise, the side is well-settled with an air of confidence around it and with a favourable draw, will back themselves this season. Last year they had to endure a challenging draw - a five match tour of the Antipodes, playing two games in New Zealand, two more in Australia and then returning to New Zealand to play the Crusaders.
    This year they play four matches on foreign soil and seven at The Absa Stadium Durban, secure in the knowledge that they will do their campaign a massive boost by securing home ground advantage for the play-offs.
    The record books show that of the 14 away games played in the knock-out rounds where a team had to travel across the Indian Ocean, only two were won by the visitors (14%). This was evident in last year’s semi-final where the Sharks had to return back to Sydney to face the Waratahs in the semis, as well as the previous year where both the Blues and Crusaders, two of the most successful teams in the tournament’s history, faced severe fatigue in coming over to South Africa, losing to the Sharks and Bulls respectively.

    While the Sharks look nicely settled, the same cannot be said for many of their opposition.
    2008 Champions, the Crusaders have a new coach in former captain Todd Blackadder after the loss of Robbie Deans to the head Wallaby job, while match-winner Dan Carter is currently taking a sabbatical, playing club rugby in France. They will also be missing last year’s squad members Scott Hamilton, Campbell Johnstone, Caleb Ralph, Greg Sommerville, Reuben Thorne, Mose Tuiali’i and Ali Williams.

    Another team with a new coach is the Blues with Pat Lam taking over from David Nucifora. Jimmy Gopperth has moved from the Wellington to Auckland and Ali Williams has also returned after a stint with the Crusaders, while they have also signed Josh Blackie and Tasesa Lavea. However, Isa Nacewa, Ben Atiga, Nick Evans, Troy Flavell, Danny Lee and Nick Williams will not feature in 2009. Furthermore, their loss is the Red’s gain with Daniel Braid having made one of the biggest moves – from New Zealand to Australia following the latter country’s decision to open the door to foreigners to increase their player pool.

    The Chiefs have lost some influential, long term members of their squad with Simms Davison, Jono Gibbs, Tasesa Lavea, Jamie Nutbrown, Kristian Ormsby and Tom Willis all out of the team.

    Highlanders’ captain Craig Newby will play no role in 2009 which is a severe blow to the team who will look to improve on their 11th position on the log in 2008.

    The Hurricanes are another team who have lost a massive player, Jerry Collins having moved to the Northern Hemisphere. His loss is a severe blow for the team, and together with the missing Jimmy Gopperth, Chris Masoe and Shannon Paku, they have lost a lot of experience.
    Last edited by BKKBoet; 14-01-2009 at 11:00 AM.

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    Super 14 Preview : Part 2


    Source : Sharks Rugby


    In part two of our survey of the Vodacom Super 14 teams in 2009, we take a look at the Australian and South African sides that have had changes to playing and coaching personnel.



    The Australian sides who have no domestic competition to rival New Zealand’s NPC or South Africa’s Absa Currie Cup and who started their preseason training back in October already have also been affected, as in New Zealand, by the player drain to the North.

    The Waratahs may well feel the loss of an outstanding talent, Wallaby loose forward Rocky Elsom having departed from Sydney to Ireland. They have however lured Scott Fava from the Western Force. However, with long term servant David Lyons having signed to play in Wales and Josh Valentine and Dan Vickerman also missing from the squad, the losses for the Sydney-based side are certain to have an impact on last year’s finalists.
    Despite leading his team to the Final last year, coach Ewen McKenzie was given his marching orders and Chris Hickey, the former Australian Under 21 coach, will be in charge this year.

    The Brumbies too have a new coach in Andy Friend who takes over from Laurie Fisher and although they have lost Alistair Campbell, Julian Huxley and Adam Wallace-Harrison, they have retained the core of 2008’s squad, including the signing of Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore from the Reds.

    The Reds meanwhile welcome Daniel Braid but have also been hard hit in depth, having lost the services of Rodney Blake, Sam Cordingly, David Croft, Chris Latham, Steven Moore, John Roe, Clinton Schifcofske and Andrew Walker. Their preseason training squad comprised one third new players.

    The Western Force have undergone some tough times of late, Coach John Mitchell under fire and Matt Giteau seeking an out to his contract to return to Canberra, but it appears both will remain – for the time being. They have not been nearly as hard-hit as the Waratahs and Reds, but will however have to do without Scott Fava and Matt Henjak.

    Champions in 2007, the Blue Bulls no longer have Heyneke Meyer at the helm. They will also be missing Wikus van Heerden and Derick Hougaard who are both over in the UK and Hilton Lobberts who has been signed by the Stormers, but have coaxed Springbok Jaco Pretorius away from the Lions and welcome back Victor Matfield who missed last year’s campaign playing in France.

    The Lions have brought Flank Todd Clever (USA 15s and 7s) to add to an impressive loose forward contingent, with other signings including Rouan Cloete, Divan Kotze, Robert Kruger, Alastair Siegelaar, Thuliphato Marole and Hans van Dyk. Barry Goodes and Jannes Labuschange have also returned to the Lions while Ashwin Willemse could also make a surprise return to the side this year. Back from long term injury is Andre Pretorius who could prove to be one of the Lions' saviours.
    However, Jaco Pretorius has moved to the Bulls and other losses include Jaco van Schalkwyk who left to go play overseas and uncertainty over the availability of Rayno Benjamin who is now involved with the Springbok sevens.

    The Stormers have contracted Duane Vermeulen from the Cheetahs and Hilton Lobberts from the Bulls but have lost the service of Robbie Diack, Tiaan Liebenberg and Ross Skeate. They will have their sights set high this year after finishing in fifth position on last year’s Super 14 log, missing out to a semi-final spot on points-differential (equal with the fourth-placed Hurricanes on 41 log points), but face a similar overseas tour to the Sharks in 2008, when they play the Crusaders, Waratahs, Brumbies, Hurricanes and Highlanders away in consecutive weeks, traversing the Tasman Sea four times.

    The Cheetahs have been amongst the hardest hit in terms of player losses. While the team has been able to welcome back Nico Breedt and always rely on a massive crop of talented youngsters coming through the ranks of Grey Bloem and Shimlas, in addition to Vermeulen moving to the Cape, they have also lost Rory Duncan, Eddie Fredericks, Herkie Kruger,Hendrik Meyer, Jonathan Mokuena, Barend Pieterse, Darron Nell, Falie Oelschig, Gavin Passons and CJ van der Linde from last year’s Super 14 squad. Chris Rossouw who was signed last year has retired.
    For the team who finished 13th last year, an overseas tour of five matches will add further to the challenges they will be forced to embrace this year.
    This year’s tournament will be challenging indeed for all the sides, and perhaps might find matters slightly more open than previous years. The South African sides will be looking to make a great impact thanks to the confidence gained in previous years as well as the mantle of Rugby World Champions.



    Just five weeks left . . .
    Last edited by BKKBoet; 14-01-2009 at 11:04 AM.

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    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Good article, cheers. Definately a South African slant to it though.

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    After reaching the knockout stage 7 times, and playing and losing in 4 finals in 15 years of super rugby (going back to the start of super 10), I am really hoping it is the Sharks year. I think breaking the 12 year trophy drought with a win in the Currie Cup last year will really help their confidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson View Post
    Good article, cheers. Definately a South African slant to it though.
    Yeah, it is from the Sharks website! Anyone is welcome to post any news they have about other teams.

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    Was just reading this that you might find interesting too: The moment a divided nation came together - World - NZ Herald News

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    I love this part:

    "Clint Eastwood is crazy about rugby. It's quite astonishing. He must be one of three Americans."

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    Champions and Pretenders

    Posted in Super 14 by JC

    Some teams struggle, some will always challenge while the rest usually flatter to deceive. Will 2009 witness the same predictable finish or can the Pretenders upset the mundane Super Rugby order?
    For all the teams that realistically challenge for the trophy, the Super 14 may as well be called the Super 10. 2009 is unlikely to see top-four finishes by the Lions, Cheetahs, Highlanders or Reds. Is anybody putting money on these guys to win the tournament? Hell, it’d be a bold move to bet on any one of these franchises finishing in the top six. There may be a few upsets as is the nature of Super Rugby, but there hasn’t been much in the pre-season to suggest any of these teams can maintain a constant challenge for 13 weeks.
    The remaining 10 franchises can be divided into Champions and Pretenders. There are teams that alternate between Champion and Pretender status while there are the Perma-Pretenders that underachieve year after year. The Bulls relinquished their Champion status in 2008 to join the Pretender ranks, while the Crusaders eradicated the bad memories of 2007 to reclaim a very familiar trophy, and with it, Champion status. The Brumbies have tasted Super Rugby success as have the Blues, but like the Bulls, they both may finish the 2009 tournament as also-rans yet again.
    The Super 14 certainly has it’s fair share of teams that boast the potential but never quite make the step up to Champion. Sharks fans will remember the defeats of 1996 in Auckland, 2001 in Canberra, and that 2007 final against the Bulls in Durban. The Stormers are a side perennially packed with Springboks, but in 12 years have never made it to a grand final.
    The Hurricanes and the Waratahs have featured regularly in the play-offs, but instead of finishing with silverware they usually finish with another reason for caustic Antipodean journos to pen headlines like “Always the bridesmaid and never the bride”. The Chiefs are always talked up as the dark horse before every competition gets underway. Perhaps this is why the media are more forgiving when the Chiefs just miss the play-offs, yet again.
    So what of 2009? What of a reason to feel excited and enthused and expect this year’s Super 14 to be any different? Well, while there are four teams that should struggle, the Champion and Pretender status may not be so clear cut, be it due to recent provincial success, lack of depth or an exodus of quality .
    To begin with the Champions, the Crusaders have lost coach Robbie Deans and flyhalf Dan Carter, and it’s hard to see them capturing their eighth title with such an inexperienced unit. You don’t shrug that kind of loss and retain titles. Ask the Bulls. They lost coach Heyneke Meyer and talisman Victor Matfield at the end of 2007 and promptly plummeted to 10th place in the 2008 Super 14.
    The Bulls should improve on this standing with the return of Matfield and the signing of Lions centre Jaco Pretorius adding to their potency. They already have the structure and a solid defensive system in place, but much will depend on the attacking form of pivot Morne Steyn. The Bulls qualified for the 2007 play-offs by being one of the most prolific try-scoring teams in the tournament. They need to replicate that feat in order to avoid mid-table oblivion.
    There’s a big buzz around the team in Cape Town but most experts are waiting for the Stormers to do their talking on the field. The backline is being hyped, but the true measure of quality will be in the pack’s performance. Coach Rassie Erasmus made a big difference to the Cape franchise last year, and expect his influence to tell once again. A number of combinations have gained a year’s experience, but with the development and relative success of these 2008 partnerships has arisen a public expectation to qualify for the semis.
    The Stormers are not the only team under pressure to perform from round one. John Plumtree’s Sharks begin their campaign at Newlands this Saturday and many pundits are tipping them to go on and obtain that elusive Super 14 title. Following their Absa Currie Cup triumph, the Sharks have the quality and the depth to be a success this season. However, the 10-12 channel where Springboks Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn are set to start will come under scrutiny. The Sharks’ ambition to bury their Super Rugby bogey could depend on how these youngsters respond to the pressure.
    The once almighty Blues are rebuilding and will start the season on the back foot when they tour Australia and South Africa minus several key players. The Brumbies made slow progress after George Gregan and Stephen Larkham retired in 2007, but are still some way off launching a realistic assault on the title. The Tahs will battle without Dan Vickerman and Rocky Elsom in their pack, and 2009 should see them relegated from bridesmaids to flowergirls.
    And the Canes? Like the Stormers, Colin Cooper’s team is blessed with a number of Test stars, but where they differ to the Cape outfit is in the depth department. The only concern is that they’ve failed to add much since last year, and so while they will head into the competition with a more experienced squad, the brains trust will need to produce something different to avoid further frustration in 2009.
    The Force were one of the favourites to book a semi-final spot in 2008 but fell flat when it mattered, and with the alleged unrest between coach John Mitchell and his charges it’d be a miracle if they bettered last year’s showing. The Force and the Chiefs should remain competitive, but are mid-table teams at best.


    keo.co.za


    5 Days to go...

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    What a change in fortune for the 'saders. Looking like it might be another Bulls vs Sharks final this year.

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    Brumbies Forward dies in accident.

    ACT Brumbies Super 14 rugby forward Shawn Mackay has died in a Durban hospital from injuries he received after being hit by a vehicle, team officials said Monday.


    Mackay, 26, died at about 0100 GMT, having suffered a cardiac arrest, a Brumbies spokesman said.
    He had been in hospital, critically ill with multiple injuries, since March 29 when he was hit by an armed response car in a Durban street while on the Brumbies' tour of South Africa.
    Team officials said Mackay had shown some positive signs after being brought out of a medically-induced coma late last week and underwent surgery.
    "After his surgery Shawn contracted an infection in his bloodstream," the Brumbies' chief executive Andrew Fagan said.
    "He deteriorated rapidly and suffered a cardiac arrest from which he didn't recover."

    Very Sad

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